As professionals in tour operating industry we know very well that online reviews are useful indications when we need to find hotels and restaurants for our itineraries.
Online reviews changed the Tourism Sector
After the first period of booming, during last years many warned about online reviews and suggestions. If you have time have a look at this very detailed article: https://www.outsideonline.com/1960011/inside-mad-mad-world-tripadvisor.
This is an extreme analysis, but is a point of view we must keep in mind.
A recent trend in tourism is the progressive weakening of online reviews for hotels and restaurants. We are talking of TripAdvisor but also of all the others portals or metasearch portals that base their activity on recommended places (and then also offer best rates for them).
Recent studies show the crisis of generic online reviews
We recently visited the International Tourism Fair “TTG” in Rimini, October 12/14 and attended the seminar ““The Digital tourist is zapping!”, held by the Observatory of Digital Tourism of Milan’s Polytechnic https://www.osservatori.net/ww_en/?___from_store=it_it
The Speakers pointed out that while til 2015 portals as Tripadvisors had 71% of digital tourists using them, in 2016 the percentage moved to 63.
Simultaneously, travel agencies websites raised their credibility moving from 19 to 31% and the hotels and restaurant own websites raised from 7 to 16%.
Furthermore the Speakers illustrated that the scale of credibility for a digital tourist is nowadays as follows:
- reviews of clients of the hotel/restaurant 33%
- suggestions of friends or relatives 31%
They concluded that:
Digital Tourists prefer reviews that sound written by someone who has our same taste.
A personal lesson
That doesn’t mean that is a person that we know necessarily well…personally I had a suggestion for a hotel in Rome from a friend of mine. She reccomended it because it was not expensive and well located, since it was near a metro station. For my family of 5 that was a terrible experience: the hotel was far from the centre, it was a sort of religious hostel for pilgrims more than a hotel! It was cheap yes but really too shabby! And the metro…it was too far for my youngest son’s legs so we opted for a taxi. In the end the expenses were much higher that we expected ( and the morale lower!): Furthermore we only stayed there 3 days (and a more handy location would have been preferable) while she was there for a week.
I’ve learnt a simple lesson:
what is good for you is not always good for me, even if I trust you.
The responsibility of professionals in suggesting locations
When we act as professionals we are highly responsible for what we suggest and choose for someone’s else experience as for example a vacation.
Concluding we should say that is good to prefer reviews that sound written by someone who has our same taste, but better if they know our taste and our needs! Which is slightly different.
This is something we always have in mind when we work for our Clients.
And that’s why we first hear from them, we interview them and study their products and offers.