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A Recent Survey of 500 Vacation Travelers Shows 83% Rely on Online Hotel
Reviews in Making Property Selections

April 2011 - A recent survey of 500 travelers confirms that online hotel reviews have become a key consideration for leisure travelers in selecting a hotel or resort.  83% of leisure travelers will always or sometimes check out online hotel reviews before they book a vacation at a hotel or resort they haven’t visited previously.  Most of the other travelers said they rely instead on major brand reputation, travel agents, or group tours, or only book at the lowest priced hotels.

“When you book a vacation at a hotel or resort for the first time, do you check out online hotel reviews?”

Online travel sites have recognized the importance of hotel reviews and use these reviews to attract visitors and increase their share of hotel bookings.  Alan Hollander, Founder and CEO of GuestBook, says that while hotels have improved their online marketing and the content of their websites to influence travelers to book directly with them, most have not kept up with social media and the increased reliance on peer reviews.  As a result hotels lose visitors to their websites who want to see reviews before they make their reservation.

One hotel group, Accor, has tried to find a middle ground in an effort to retain visitors to its multi-brand website at of over 3,000 hotels by recently adding links to guest review excerpts from TripAdvisor.  This strategy, Hollander, explains carries a risk that a visitor will click through to TripAdvisor which promotes competing hotels through advertising and provides commission-based booking options.

Another company, Revinate, provides a service that enables a hotel to display excerpts of reviews from a number of different review sites, but it is not clear how this improves the retention rate as the visitors can still click through to read the full reviews.

A different approach is used by GuestBook which enables hotels and resorts to obtain reviews from their guests and have the complete reviews posted on GuestBook.  The reviews page on GuestBook for each hotel functions more like an extension of a hotel’s own website since it does not display advertising from competing hotels.

HeBS says that for 2011 hotels should make their direct online channel “the foundation” of their hotel Internet marketing strategy and “stop ‘leaking’ revenues to the OTAs”.  Developing a strategy to deal with guest reviews may be a necessary element to this strategy.

Survey Notes: The survey was conducted by GuestBook LLC in March 2011 at Boston Logan Airport of adult travelers (i.e., those carrying luggage).  Responses from couples were counted as one response and responses from travelers who said they don’t book vacations at hotels or resorts, stayed at their own timeshares, or always combined their vacations with business travel, were not counted.

Alan Hollander, Founder & CEO
GuestBook LLC
Telephone:   +1 617 517 6028

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