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To all hotel managers, tour operators, and local business owners in the travel and hospitality industry, here’s a thought: the people who check out your online reviews most often may be the potential customers with the most money to spend.

A new study, in fact, is making the same point. In the report entitled “Affluent Consumers and Their Travel Plans,” – released by Unity Marketing – it was found that wealthier travelers are influenced more by online travel reviews than by recommendations made by peers.

(Check out: “Travel Reviews Aggregator TripAdvisor Shares More Awesome Tips on Online Review Management”)

“This year, what beat out the influences of friends and relatives, the first-hand experiences, is online reviews,” said Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing. “This shows that luxury travellers are really using their computer as a tool to help them make their decisions, and are listening to reviews of people they don’t know. That is another important finding and has a lot of implications. Travel providers better be online and need to be responsive to consumers.”

Today’s top travel review aggregators and hotel ratings sites include: TripAdvisor, Yelp, Google+ Local, Expedia, and Travelocity. Among these, TripAdvisor is the most widely recognized review site for hotels and travel industry businesses, having recently reached 100 million reviews and opinions. (For a more complete list, check out “Hotel and Tourism Business Owners: Travel, Tourism, and Hotel Review Sites You Should Monitor”.)

The Unity Marketing study also detailed how 45 percent of affluent consumers – with an average income $267,800 and average age of 45.4 years – are planning to spend more on vacations this year. The top travel destinations? The Caribbean, Asia, and Australia/New Zealand are all on deck for these luxury visitors.

Wealthy travellers also like to choose more economically when it comes to transportation. According to the study, they’re more likely to fly coach class or travel by car, but they also often choose to stay in hotels with aggregated ratings of 4 to 5 stars. As Unity Marketing put it: “When it comes to travel, the real luxury value is not in getting there, but in being there.”

Are you a hotel manager or restaurateur? Here’s how you claim your business listing on TripAdvisor. Be sure to also check out ReviewTrackers, a travel and hotel review monitoring platform that collects user-generated reviews from sites like TripAdvisor and sends new review alerts straight to your inbox.

Kevin Kent

Kevin is the Director of Finance and Operations at ReviewTrackers. Every day he finds creative ways to solve business owners' problems and identifies key issues to help them achieve top results.

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