Over half of British online consumers will turn immediately to a competitor if they see negative reviews of a travel business in search engine results.
The survey by digital marketing agency Tamar said 58% of users would make the switch while 42% would abandon their search altogether.
The increased use of social networking and blogging has seen a number of major companies fall victim to finding their brand name appear on search engines for sites publishing negative reviews.
Tamar director Neil McCarthy said: “Brand owners are only just beginning to actively manage their reputations online as negative comments in search results do drive potential customers into the hands of the opposition.”
The survey, produced for Tamar by Tickbox.net, also found four in five consumers would be likely to make an immediate transaction if natural search engine results produced leads that placed them directly on the booking page of a site.
One of the most high profile travel companies to suffer as a result of natural search results producing a plethora of negative reviews is budget airline Ryanair.
“The first page of Google results includes negative comments such as, ‘Ryanair – the world’s least favourite airline’ and details of dissatisfied customer experiences,” Tamar said.
The survey was conducted with a representative sample of 1,500 UK adults, aged 16+, between 20 February 2007 and 27 February 2007.