The influence of online travel reviews in the travel planning process continues to rise along with the growing popularity and influence of social networking and online review sites. More studies record the trust shift from traditional marketing channels to independent reviews via digital media, leading the development of multichannel marketing initiatives in the travel and tourism industry.
According to the third annual Access America Vacation Confidence Index released by Mondial Assistance USA, 60 % of consumers say they factor other travelers’ online reviews into their plans when booking a vacation. With a 10 % anticipated increase in holiday travel for 2011 – nearly six in 10 Americans (57 %) are confident they will take a holiday trip this year – popular travel review and social media websites can expect more traffic this holiday season.
Online Word of Mouth is King and Affects Bookings
- Travelers under 35 are most likely to say that online travel reviews influence their travel plans (74 percent) while those 55 and over are least likely to be influenced by reviews (44 percent).
- Nearly 79 percent of respondents with a household income of $75,000 or more factor other travelers’ reviews into their own plans, while less than half of those with an income of under $25,000 do so (46 percent).
The Trust Factor
- Nearly two thirds of respondents (63 percent) find other travelers’ reviews to be trustworthy, while 29 percent are less trusting.
- Travelers under 35 are more likely than those who are older to trust the travel reviews they read (70 percent vs. 54 percent).
- Over three quarters of respondents with a household income of $75,000 or more (77 percent) find travel reviews to be trustworthy compared to just half of those with an income of under $25,000 (50 percent).
Social Networking Sites are Most Popular for Sharing
- Facebook packs a punch: Among travelers who share reviews of their travel experiences online (24 percent of respondents), social networking sites such as Facebook are most popular. Nearly one in five (18 percent) say that they share their travel experiences on social networks, more than double the proportion of those who post on travel review sites (eight percent).
Young Adults, Affluent More Likely to Share Online
- Adults under 35 are more likely than those who are 35+ to share their travel experiences online (35 percent vs. 20 percent), particularly on social media sites (29 percent vs. six percent).
- More affluent adults are also more likely to share about their travels. More than a third of those with a household income of $75,000 or more (36 percent) share their travel reviews online, compared to 15 percent of those with a household income of less than $25,000, and they are twice as likely to use social networks to do so (24 percent vs. 12 percent).