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For business owners, online review monitoring and reputation management is more critical than ever. This holds true for hotels and hospitality executives, who now have to embrace the marketing potential of user-generated content while also keeping an eye on how their guests’ opinions – on sites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google, and Foursquare – are influencing other travelers and potential customers.
A new research report by trusted software resource Software Advice answers the question of how travelers are currently using online hotel reviews. According to the company’s findings, close to half – or exactly 46 percent – read and track online reviews before booking a hotel, and 34 percent say they check reviews either sometimes or most of the time.
Moreover, Generation Y (18 to 34 years old) is more likely than other generations to use reviews before finalizing their booking decisions, with 45 percent saying that they rely on the information from these reviews before choosing a place to stay. The least likely to check reviews before booking is the group of travelers in the age range of 65 and above.
ReviewTrackers CEO and founder Chris Campbell provided some key analysis on Software Advice’s research findings. “These trends can be explained by increasing Internet access and mobile use, especially among younger age groups (like Generation Y)” he says.
“The growth of websites like Yelp and TripAdvisor is due in large part to the increased use of smartphone travel apps and mobile browsing and bookings. We definitely see more online reviews in countries with higher Internet penetration, because there is higher saturation of these kinds of apps.”
Other key findings from Software Advice’s research are:
- 38 percent of consumers consider Expedia as their preferred review site. Meanwhile, hotel reviews aggregator TripAdvisor ties Expedia for trustworthiness (34 percent). These sites are followed by Hotels.com and Booking.com.
- 58 percent of travelers and consumers still think that the price of the hotel room is the most important information to look for – more so, at least, than the sentiment (positive or negative) of online reviews.
Despite price continuing to be a major factor in influencing booking decisions, Campbell suggests that travelers today look at all other types of information as well. “I don’t think it’s fully driven on price anymore. You have to consider how much parking costs, if there is free breakfast, if there is free Wi-Fi and how many reviews it (the property) has. Travel gets expensive, so people are looking for an overall value – verified with reviews.”
For more information, check out these charts below:
Are you a hotelier or hospitality exec? If you’re looking for a great tool to help you monitor your online reviews from Expedia and TripAdvisor (and all other major review sites) and manage your reputation, try out ReviewTrackers. Our software platform is designed to serve the needs of business owners in the hotel and hospitality industry. Sign up for a free trial today and discover why customers love ReviewTrackers!
(Infographic: Overnight Success by Software Advice)