TripAdvisor claims to be responsible for travel bookings worth £1.7 billion in the UK last year.
This represented 2.2% of tourism spend in 2011, according to a new study on the impact of online user review sites on consumer behaviour and the UK tourist and hospitality industry.
The findings show that consumers using user-generated content are more likely to increase both their time and spending on tourist accommodation and locations in the UK.
Commissioned by TripAdvisor and conducted by Tourism Economics, the report estimates that the £1.7 billion spend helped created 7,000 jobs and supported 20,000 in the tourism industry.
The survey shows that more than 25% of people either stayed longer, spent more or undertook more activities as a result of using the site.
The average domestic spending per trip by an UK TripAdvisor user is estimated to be more than 20% higher than the average online booking.
More than half of survey respondents reported finding hotels not part of a chain.
Sites such as TripAdvisor tend to provide reassurance, build trust and provide more information which leads to an increase in bookings and spending by consumers.
People using user-generated sites are also more likely to have a better travel experience as a result of having greater insight and expectation management of locations visited, according to the research.
Tourism Economics director David Goodger said: “Sites such as TripAdvisor have fundamentally changed the way consumers both research and shop for their holiday and leisure activities, to their benefit.
“Travel consumers can now afford to be more selective in their purchasing decisions which has really seen those providing a quality product or service in this industry rise to the top.
“The great thing about user-generated content sites is that in addition to building consumer confidence and increasing spending prior to travel, they have levelled the playing field for businesses big and small.”
He added: “This democratisation of reviews and travel information has also shown to generate real commercial value with TripAdvisor alone, as the leading travel site, supporting £1.7 billion in tourism spending in the UK. We estimate that over 7,000 new jobs have been generated in the economy as a result.”
TripAdvisor for Business president Christine Petersen said: “The travel industry has long been ahead of the curve in adopting user-generated content and really tapping into this to benefit both consumers and businesses alike.
“Property and site owners that have been truly embracing and engaging with this content not only benefit through the consumer feedback they receive but they have also raised the quality standards of the industry as a whole in the UK.
“We knew that our community of over 56 million unique users contribute great consumer insight to each other and the industry but now we see that sites like ours can also drive real economic value.”