Independent user-generated content websites are the most trusted source of information for people researching travel plans, a survey of online users has found.
Review site TripAdvisor (21%) came ahead of travel portals such as TimeOut and tourist board websites (15%) in the consumer survey to conducted by Nielsen//NetRatings to discover the most reliable sources of travel information.
Travel agent websites such as ThomasCook.com were considered the most reliable by 12% of UK online users, ahead of the 11% opting for search engines.
Mike Teasdale, planning director at Harvest Digital, which commissioned the survey in tandem technology company Adviva, said: “This research shows that user reviews are not just one of the factors that consumers use to decide between different holidays, but are the most trusted information source of all.
“Recent moves like the Guardian’s new travel portal featuring user generated content and the launch of WAYN suggest that the industry is waking up to the importance of consumer opinions to travel choices.”
The survey also revealed frequent travellers were the most enthusiastic for user-generated reviews, with half of those taking five or more trips a year citing review sites as the most reliable for travel information.
Remarkably, travel agent websites were not considered a useful source of reliable information for any travellers taking more than an average of three trips a year, the survey found.
Adviva European corporate development manager Fiona McKinnon said: “The research reveals that consumers are not only using a variety of online sources when researching holiday destinations, but they are also becoming more informed in deciding who they want to travel with.
“It is important, therefore, that travel companies advertise to a wide reach to encompass the young and old, men and women and also the frequent traveller alongside those who’s holiday is a major annual event.”