According to a new survey, younger travelers are more likely to use reviews before booking a hotel. 30% of travelers in the age bracket of 25 to 34 years use reviews most of the time, and 28% of those aged 18-24 always use reviews.
Taylor Short of Software Advice, an online evaluation firm for hotel management software:
“We found the younger the age, the more likely travelers will use online hotel reviews to search for potential hotels. The increase in mobile usage and higher saturation of online review apps seems to be the main factor in this trend.”
Travelers were asked what was their most common reason for checking online customer reviews of hotels before booking. The results show that 35% of respondents use reviews early on to identify hotels to consider, while 28% use them to narrow down pre-determined choices. Interesting also that 18% of consumers are confirming their final choice of a hotel by reading through reviews.
Although Expedia.com and Tripadvisor came out on top of websites that are most commonly used and trusted, I recommend adding hotel reviews to brand and independent hotel websites. This is particularly true for brands and hotels targeting millenials.
If 18% of travelers have already chosen a hotel and come to the brand or independent hotel website to confirm their choice, informative guest reviews may just be the element that tips them over to book directly.
Interesting also, what should reviews look like?
Respondents were asked what element would most entice them to book? 40% say specific, guest-submitted comments are most effective at driving their decision to purchase. Star rating, guest-submitted photos of the rooms and the hotel’s ranking relative to other hotels in the area are considered less enticing.
The most important information travelers are looking for is the price of a room, with 58%.
However, many travelers (47%) would not be willing to pay more for positive reviews.
Taylor Short: “While travelers say they find online reviews highly valuable, they won’t necessarily pay much more for a hotel with positive reviews over one without. About 30% say they would only pay ‘a little more.’”
In conclusion, while especially younger travelers use hotel online reviews extensively, the most single important piece of information is the price of a room which doesn’t seem to be negotiable for many bookers.
In order to compete with OTAs, hotel brands and independent hotels should therefore add reviews to their websites and not only star ratings or Tripadvisor badges but specific guest reviews that can be trusted. They should also be very price-sensitive and not believe that consumers are willing to pay more for their positive image and in order to book directly.
Moreover, it’s essential to monitor hotel reviews on OTA and social media websites and make reputation management an integral part of the hotel online marketing strategy.