Renowned marketing guru Philip Kotler gave this mantra a
long time ago and it’s still the mantra even in the age of Web 2.0. Nothing
beats the power and persuasion impact of word-of-mouth publicity.
portals like Tripadvisor have major impact in travel decision-making. It’s not surprising that 93% of travel plans
are influenced by travel review websites.
Travelers don’t just come to read review while planning
their trip but actively come back after completion of their tour to review and
add their personal experience. Those who do like a property or travel agent
nowadays tend to recommend them to their friends, family and to online
community at large.
According to the finding of the study travelers returning from
a trip are more likely to recommend the hotel they stayed in or the agency they
used to friends and family directly (58%), while 41% do so online.
(51%) have written online reviews about the accommodation they stayed at and a
third (34%) have written a review for a website. Around a fifth (17%), have
written about their travel experience in a blog or forum.
Online platforms also emerged as favored source for travel
planning and research with more than 92% travelers turning to them for travel
Research also revealed that people prefer booking accommodation
through online travel agencies (27%) instead of choosing accommodation
provider’s website (23%).
Signaling a paradigm shift from past trends, study
reveals that less than 9% of people booked their last trip through an offline
Community based online travel sources like Lonely Planet and
Tripadvisor stand out as being the most trusted source of travel information as
trust is increasingly becoming a strong factor in travel decision making.
review websites fared as the most trusted (32%) and most useful (38%) source of
information for travel planning and research.
Consumer Wants: Take Heed Accommodation Providers
Who doesn’t love a giveaway? According to the findings room
discounts impacts choice of accommodation of over 75% people whereas a free
night’s stay could influence decision making of 49% tourists.
breakfast (84%), free in-room Wi-Fi (80%), free lobby Wi-Fi (66%) and free
parking (66%) are some top factors in decision-making process of guests absence
of which may influence the final decision of the guest.
Price factor and location also account for selection
criteria of 76% and 68% of the guest respectively where travelers review on
online travel communities also playing an important part in decision making
with 44% influenced by online reviews.
|Online Reviews influence choice of Accommodation |
Role of Social Media and
Reviews in Travel Decision Making
Not surprisingly, social networking giant Facebook tops the
chart when it comes to research and planning a trip. Facebook with share of 76%
of people using social media platforms is way ahead of its competitors like Google+
(40%) and Twitter (21%).
Younger tourists (18-24) are more likely than their older
counterparts to have used Facebook (90% vs. 49% 65+) and Twitter (29% vs. 12%
65+) to research and plan their last trip. Men are more likely than women to
have used Facebook and Twitter (78% vs. 74% and 25% vs. 18%, respectively).
As per the findings, 85% of those who use social media said
that interactions between users which include videos, comments and photographs have
influenced their travel plans.
Majority of the samples surveyed said that
travel reviews and opinion of tourists on travel website and online communities
influence their travel plans and decision.
Digital Marketing Sphere
|Social Connect on the go keep travelers connected with the world and allow them to share photos, status and location in real time |
With access to technology and proliferation of apps and
smartphones, it’s easier than ever to connect and share on the go. Apps provided
by leading sites such as Foursquare, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and
Tripadvisor allows user to share their locations, photos and check ins in real
According to the findings, More than 51% people stay connected to the internet
through their mobile. Of those connected 39 people out of 100 upload photos to
social networks and update their social network status to keep their friends
and family up to date.
They also use digital tools to make their trip easier
such as finding activities and attractions (33%) and download apps specific to
the destination (26%).
Planning and Booking: Decision-making factors
Several factors are taken into consideration before making a
decision on accommodation. Of these, price (76%) and location (68%) are the
most important elements of the marketing mix in driving bookings.
reviews are the third most important factor (44%). Online reviews of
accommodation and hotel properties are also important drivers in booking
generation with 3 out of 4 businesses surveyed claiming them to be an important
factor which directly drives sales.
With more and more businesses getting aboard the digital
train to marketing and consumers with their power to influence sales and
reputation of properties, digital marketing is going to be one of the key
aspect of integrated marketing communications of the brands and businesses.
The influence of social media and online travel communities is
ever impacting decision-making not just in travel industry but in other
industries too. Thought leaders, influencers and experts exert significant power
and influence their listeners and followers through social networking websites
In future too, web based
community website such as Tripadvisor, Indiamike, Facebook and Twitter and authority
blogs could play a decisive role in decision making of consumers and reputation
management of businesses.
Customer will increasingly become the focus of all
marketing endeavor and reputation management.
Social Media and Digital Marketing will have increased role
and impact in travel industry for both suppliers and consumers. Engagement with
consumers and reaching out is the key.
Interaction and community building is
the area where the businesses should be focusing. The idea is to be heard by
those who are looking for the offering and who really care and hence more
likely to share or tell other.
It is also necessary to focus one’s effort and
reach out to those who are listening. For social media marketers, making
inroads through nurturing relationship and turning interaction into
conversation and community as well as a through influence instead of direct
marketing is the need of the hour.
Contributed by Nikhil Chandra