Travel planning has changed. With limitless sources of information accessible in an increasingly social world, travelers have essentially become their own agents.
Just ask any Web-searching, iPhone-brandishing, Instagram-loving traveler who fires up Google, TripAdvisor, Booking.com, or Travelocity to find hotels, Expedia and KAYAK to book flights, Lonely Planet or Fodor’s to finalize itineraries and tours.
The impact of technology on travel couldn’t be more evident than in the way a rapidly growing number of consumers now rely on online reviews.
- 89 percent of all travelers consider online reviews as influential when choosing where to go.
- Consumers check an average of 4 websites before making a booking. Also, 78 percent say they read online reviews at least half the time before making a reservation or visiting a local business.
- As a source of information, travel review sites rank ahead of personal recommendations, print guidebooks, travel blogs, and travel apps as travel planning resources.
- 70 percent of consumers will not visit or stay in a hotel with negative reviews about its cleanliness.
If today’s travelers are demanding online reviews and similar types of user-generated content to plan their trips, there is no shortage of people volunteering to supply the information, either.
Take online travel agency (OTA) Travelocity, for example. The site generates about 11 million unique worldwide visitors a month and 78 million monthly site page views. As traffic continues to surge, so does the number of reviews submitted by its users — plus, of course, the people reading these Travelocity reviews.
What Hospitality Execs Should Know About Travelocity
Based in Dallas, TX, Travelocity is owned by the Expedia Group and, like its parent company, offers booking for hotels, flights, vacation rentals, rental cars, cruises, last-minute deals, and things to do.
It has a database of over 400 airlines and 321,000 hotels worldwide, and offers users 24/7 social support, real-time trip updates, and the ability to access their itineraries on the go.
Travelocity is also known for its Price Match guarantee, which covers flights, hotels, vacation packages, rental cars, and activities. So if a user finds a cheaper, identical trip within 24 hours of booking, Travelocity will refund the difference and even give the user a $50 Travelocity travel coupon.
Apart from being an online travel agent, Travelocity also serves as home to a community of trusted online reviewers.
Before a review and photos are posted on Travelocity, the site verifies that the materials submitted are from a user who actually made a reservation or booking through Travelocity.
Travelocity Reviews and Ratings
Are you a hotel or hospitality executive? Here’s an overview of how Travelocity reviews and ratings work.
Travelocity reviews and ratings (star ratings) are intended to help consumers find the right hotel. The ratings are assigned by Travelocity based on the site’s own standards. Travelocity reviews, meanwhile, are collected after users are sent a review request email shortly after their stay at a property (booked on Travelocity). Travelocity reviews can also be submitted from a user’s itinerary.
Impact of Travelocity Reviews
These reviews and ratings can impact a business’ performance and search ranking on Travelocity. According to the site, the default search rankings reflect the relevance of properties to a user’s search criteria.
Relevance, as determined by Travelocity, takes into account factors like location, Travelocity review scores and ratings, popularity, quality of content provided by the property, and rates and availability.
A study by Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration sought to further explore the business impact of Travelocity reviews. Entitled “The Impact of Social Media on Lodging Performance” by Chris Anderson, the study found a link between Travelocity reviews and revenue.
According to findings, Travelocity reviews of hotels appear to be responsible for room rate swings of more than 10 percent. Specifically, a one-point improvement in Travelocity’s five-point rating scale / review scores can sway room rates by up to 11 percent. This means that as their ratings increase, properties can actually increase their price by 11 percent and still maintain the same occupancy rate and market share.
“Reviews and review sites continue to be in the forefront when consumers are planning a hotel room purchase,” wrote Anderson. “More generally, OTA reviews, their quality and numbers, lead to increased conversion rates and improved pricing power at the OTA, as evidenced by our investigation of transactions at Travelocity.”
He added: “What was remarkable about the study is that positive online reputation doesn’t merely provide higher pricing for online sales. It is (also) correlated to higher group booking rates and corporate negotiated rates, in addition to reservations made over the phone.”
While some hotel executives contend that online travel reviews and ratings are not exactly a replacement for more accurate industry-standard customer experience rankings and internal quality assurance metrics, they do serve to provide actionable insights from travelers looking to share their candid travel experiences online.
It is clear that, on sites like Travelocity, hoteliers and property managers must continue to listen in, monitor their online reputation, conduct in-depth analysis, and make data-driven decisions to drive bookings. In a world where travelers are regularly exposed to a seemingly unlimited number of hotel properties and lodging solutions, what others say about your business or how they rate their experience can spell the difference between you and the competition.