Over the last few years an avalanche of research and case studies have been published supporting the impact of customer reviews on the sale of products, services and travel.
As a provider of ratings and reviews technology serving over 300 clients, including Thomas Cook, we have amassed 40 real world case studies showing the conversion, search traffic, upsell and customer satisfaction lift by serving customer reviews on web sites.
The reason they work is simple: people trust and seek the advice of others. And if you are without them, prospective customers will seek elsewhere.
According to independent studies by analysts Jupiter and Forrester, over 70% of online shoppers seek reviews before making a purchase. Travel is no exception.
In fact, travel is an early adopter of customer generated content through sites like TripAdvisor.
According to statistics from Compete.com, Tripadvisor.co.uk – a reviews-oriented site – has seen a 400% rise in traffic over the last year.
Shopping for travel online, people often struggle to make the right holiday decision due to the volume of choice. The fastest path to feel confident in their purchase is to evaluate decisions others have made through reading customer reviews.
A MarketingSherpa study (July 2007) found 87% of respondents said they would trust a friend’s recommendation over a review by a critic, while 84% said they would trust user reviews over a critic.
While the growth of reviews on independent travel shopping sites is obvious, we are now seeing a growing trend of travel providers – hotels, resorts, car rental agencies etc – that want to facilitate customer reviews on their own web sites.
By doing so they gain trust from their prospective buyers and engagement from visitors and customers alike.
A 2007 Bazaarvoice/Vizu survey showed that 80% of online shoppers place more trust in brands that offer customer ratings and reviews.
Before facilitating reviews on one’s own products, a marketer will often ask: “What about negative reviews?” Certainly you must allow positive and negative reviews to publish to maintain authenticity.
The benefits of authentic reviews are there in driving traffic, sales and customer engagement.
We’ve also found that for brands facilitating this content, a customer-centric cultural journey starts that positively impacts the entire company.
And that’s a trip any CEO would want to take.
Sam Decker is chief marketing officer of Bazaarvoice