New research on how travelers use online hotel reviews

Reviews are now part of the shopping process for stays at hotels. It is no longer a question whether people are using reviews for making there decision. Ask any hotel who is in the top 3 of their cities and find out the impact it has on their revenues.

The internal processes and tools are now fueling this growth to these platforms. There are also tools that help you analyze these responses so hoteliers can respond and take action based on the feedback.  These platforms are used for a variety of reasons.

What do you use review websites for?

If you are wondering how people are using these reviews, and how it influences their decision making, there is some new research on the topic.

35% of the people use it to consider a hotel. So if you are not even on the platform and not in the top few hotels you are not even part of the consideration.

28% of the people use it to help narrow down their choices. This is very consistent with my own shopping behaviour. I typically narrow down the choices through review websites. 19% of the people are using these sites for finding better prices and 18% check it before making a final choice about where they are staying.
Online Reviews Charts reason

 

 

 When viewing online customer reviews of hotels, what website do you consider most trustworthy? 

The trust factor of these websites is also important as people are deciding based on these sources where to stay. Both Expedia and TripAdvisor are considered trustworthy by 34% of the people. 24% of the people consider Hotels.com as a trusted source.

Online Reviews Charts sites trusted

 

Booking.com is at 6% and only 2% of people use other platforms.

Which websites do you use most often?

Expedia stands out as the biggest platform to check reviews. 38% of the people use it to the check the reviews. After that comes Trip Advisor at 28%. Hotels.com comes in at 25%. Even though Booking.com is now comparable to Expedia in size it does not have the same mindshare when it comes to people checking reviews. Only 6% of the people check it for reviews.

Between Expedia properties and Trip Advisor (previously owned by Expedia) it covers 80% of the people. Even though the popularity of meta search platforms is growing it is a still small share when compared to standalone sites.

Online Reviews Charts sites used

Which element of  a review would entice you most to make a booking

As the popularity of reviews grows they are used by people for different reasons and different parts of appeal differently to everyone. 40% of the people are influenced by specific comments. 29% of the people are influenced by the star rating or percent rating. These ratings can quickly give a snapshot of how well a hotel is doing in general.

18% of the people are influenced by Guest submitted photos. Visual user generated content also plays a big part in influencing a person. TripAdvisor has been accepting user photos for a very long time.

These platforms are used to compare a hotel ranking relative to other hotels as well. 13% of the people are influenced by these rankings.

Online Reviews Charts enticing

 

Demographics of people using review websites

When it comes to demographics the people referencing reviews skews heavily towards a younger age group. The user group is also divided in in two categories one who always use reviews and the one’s who use it most of the time.

28% of the people between the age of 18-24 always use reviews when looking for a place to stay. 17% of the people between 25-34 always use these websites.

Online Reviews Charts frequency age

“Those under the age of 35 tend to use online reviews to find potential hotels to book, and it seems that increased Internet penetration as well as rapidly growing mobile usage contributes to this.”

How often do you check online reviews before making a booking

Frequency is a big factor when it comes to determining how engaged a user is with a platform. It is also an indicator if the behaviour we are looking for taking place or not. 43% of the people never check reviews before making a booking. 17% of the people either check reviews sometimes or most of the time.

12% of the people always check reviews before making a booking but 10% of the people rarely check reviews. 46% of the people are actively checking reviews to make a booking.

However, this does not indicate whether once a person makes a booking at a hotel do they keep coming back to check reviews for it before they the next time. And, if they are regular travellers to a destination and if they have specific place they like to stay do they check reviews at other hotels.

Online Reviews Charts frequency

 

Gender plays a part in what is important to a person.

Based on one s Gender the information one is looking for differs vastly. 63% of Female look for Aesthetic features but only 37% of Male look for it. However, when it comes to On-site amenities this behaviour changes. 59% of Male and 41% of female look for on-site amenities.

 

 

Online Reviews Charts important gender

When reading reviews what is the most important information you are looking for

When reading reviews there are many things a person is looking for to make a decision. However some of the people are looking for specific pieces of info.

58% of the people look for price of the hotel when looking for reviews.

“Even though price was named the most important aspect of a hotel’s review online, most respondents say specific comments by past guests would be the information most likely to entice them to book a room.”

Location as we know is always important to a hotel for various reasons. 16% of the people looking for proximity to local attractions.

15% of the people look for aesthetic features and 10% of the people look for on-site amenities.

Online Reviews Charts important

How much will you willing to pay for a hotel with positive reviews?

One of the most important question for hoteliers is whether all this leads to people paying more for staying at their hotel.

The most interesting finding was that even though travelers claim they find online hotel reviews valuable, they are generally unwilling to spend much more on a hotel with positive reviews than one without.

47% of the people said they would not pay more. 30% of the people said they would pay a little more.

3%  of the people said they would pay much more and another 3% of the people said they would pay twice as much or more to stay in a positively reviewed hotel.
Influence of reviews on spend

 

Reviews continue to be very important for hoteliers as people are making decisions based on it. They are being to form an opinion and even narrow down their choices. However, it may not lead everyone to pay more for each hotel stay but some of the people would definitely consider paying more.

This study originally appeared on Software Advice here

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