TripAdvisor and similar user review websites now influence corporate decisions on hotels to the tune of £500m a year, according to research firm BDRC.
In a BDRC survey of 1,000 business travellers, 28% said they actively seek advice on websites featuring consumer reviews; 46% were influenced in their hotel selection by consumer reviews, while 41% decided to change their original hotel choice after reading about other travellers’ experiences.
The influence of word of mouth recommendations – both on and off line – outweighs the star ratings offered by the AA and RAC and official ratings and advice from travel agents, the survey revealed.
With 40% of respondents citing them as “very reliable”, personal recommendations were the most trusted source of information, followed by information supplied by the company business travellers were visiting (33%).
Nearly a quarter (23%) of business travellers said they placed their faith in reviews by total strangers on sites such as TripAdvisor. Only 13% believe that others’ opinions on user review sites are “unreliable”, compared to just 4.5% who remain sceptical about personal recommendations.
Matt Costin, director of hospitality research at BDRC said “These figures show that the influence that sites featuring consumer reviews and opinions have is absolutely huge for both leisure and business travellers.
“In the past a guest’s role as either an advocate or detractor was limited to their personal network but now as more and more business travellers log on to read user-review sites, the impact they are having on corporate bookings is enormous.”
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By Daniel Thomas
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