June 26, 2012

Recent findings released from Reevoo, the social commerce solutions provider, reveal that almost four in five travel customers (78%) ‘always’ or ‘often’ read reviews prior to choosing to book their next holiday.

The research of 1,000 UK consumers also found that consumers are more likely to buy from a site that offers customer reviews, with 60% reporting being ‘much more’ or ‘more’ likely to make a purchase if the travel provider’s Web presence includes customer reviews. The findings highlight how offering potential travellers’ customer reviews can underpin a successful sales and customer service strategy.

The company's founder, Richard Anson, said: “There’s a real opportunity for the travel industry to leverage and benefit from the wealth of customer opinion available to them online, without necessarily having to send consumers to third party sites. In fact, based on the consumer behaviour we have seen in the travel industry, the addition of customer reviews can result in consumers spending up to five-and-a-half times longer on the site, ultimately resulting in a tripling of conversion rates. Therefore, the potential benefit of ensuring consumers can see reviews online is significant for travel businesses.”

The study also found that 78% of respondents reporting customer service as ‘very important’ or ‘important’ when deciding where to buy products or services, highlighting that customer service is increasingly becoming a key differentiator. Hence, reviews from real travellers are a central part of customer service, as they can help build a trusting relationship between the consumer and the business, as well as provide information on the travel destination and service.

While the research points to the importance of offering customer reviews online, it’s equally key to ensure that these are honest and transparent about the service they describe. According to the company's research, major concerns for consumers when it comes to online reviews include:

36% are concerned that reviewers have been paid to write positive reviews

34% are concerned about ‘consumer’ reviews that aren’t written by consumers

33% are concerned that only good reviews are shown

Anson said: “In recent years the consumer purchase journey has changed dramatically and this has had a particular impact on the travel sector. Brick and mortar travel agents are seeing a marked decline in footfall, with many of those customers already having researched potential destinations before visiting or planning to afterwards.  Consumers now have a host of online information available to them, including advice from Websites and social media platforms, in addition to customer reviews. The result of which is that most consumers make their decision from the information available to them online. Therefore, travel businesses need to not just have a nice Website with high quality pictures of their prospective destinations, but also be able to demonstrate their great customer service online. Ensuring that it’s their site the customer uses and, more importantly, keeps coming back to.”

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