Guest Post: How genuine reviews are transforming travel

Consumer reviews have become part of the furniture of travel. Feefo sales director Matt Eames explains why

Genuine reviews are here to stay. They are creating and transforming markets and at Feefo we are happy to be right at the front, leading the revolution.

Reviews are changing the shape and behaviour of entire markets, raising customer expectations and at the same time raising standards across entire industries.

Dirty guest houses, terrible customer service and poor product quality are all being improved by the power of consumer reviews.

As a brand owner, you are no longer in control. Your customers now own your brand and they can make or break it by how you react to their feedback.

This is perhaps more important for travel than for any other industry. A holiday is a big and important purchase – on which a consumer spends more and takes more time in the planning.

So what is the most important aspect of a travel review? Trust.

Consumers need to trust that their money is safe, trust that you will get them there safely (and home again), trust that the place they have been looking at online or in brochures will be as good as or better than expected and trust they’ll have a great holiday with you.

That is a lot of trust to build. How do you do it? Using three simple rules:

1.  Guarantee reviews are from genuine customers

2.  Ask every customer

3.  Do not moderate what they say

The statistics to back this up are strong.

·         Consumers spend four times as long on a site when they interact with bad reviews, and convert 67% more highly than the average consumer

·         68% of consumers trust reviews more when they see both good and bad scores

·         One third of consumers suspect censorship when they don’t see bad feedback

·         Only 5% say they will not buy a product with bad reviews

·         83% of all holiday shoppers are influenced by customer reviews

In fact, reviews are now so important in the purchase decision for a holiday or even a business trip that 49% will not book a hotel if it does not show reviews and 31% of diners avoid eating at restaurants that don’t have reviews.

And it’s not just one or two people who contribute – as much as 75% of consumers expect to be able to give feedback on experiences.

Reviews help people switch brands, too. When consumer browsers are deciding between two places, 65% will book with the establishment that responds to feedback.

So it’s not just about gathering reviews, it’s about using them to your business advantage.

The power of reviews is amplified by the reach of social media. The average person has 273 friends on Facebook and a like or share of their review goes to their entire social network.

Social media is now so powerful, that 40% of personal travellers and 46% of business travellers use social networking to share travel experiences.

Ask yourself: would you take the risk of choosing a hotel for you and your work colleagues if it hid all its reviews? No.

In fact, 54% of business travellers have made travel plans based on the reviews and experience of others.

So reviews make markets, shape markets and build businesses.

Organisations spend billions on reputation management and growing their brands. At Feefo, we believe they could make this job an awful lot more effective, by enabling their customers to do this work for them.

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