By Brendan Coyne
Hotels and restaurants may have mixed views on TripAdvisor reviews, but the booking, price comparison and reviews site claims it generated £2b of visitor spending in the UK in 2014. Moreover, it is apparently making people buy things they would not have otherwise bought.
While the US-owned company has come under fire over policing of fake reviews and manipulation of its platform, research it commissioned from Oxford Economics suggests it influenced 10% of global travel spend in 2014. The research firm said it generated 22 million tourism trips that year, including 400,000 in the UK, which it stated would not have occurred without TripAdvisor content.
Oxford Economics also found that Trip Advisor bookers spent less than other travellers, but claimed that the savings enabled tourists to spend more at their destination.
James Kay, TripAdvisor spokesperson, said: "What is interesting is that TripAdvisor is having two notable effects on travel spending. On the one hand visitors are saving money per day by using the site to find better value options, while on the other hand the confidence they gain through reading reviews leads to an increase in both the number of trips they make and how long those trips last for.
The research found that independent operators in the UK received a disproportionate benefit from TripAdvisor-influenced spending. While they do not have the big budgets of the big brands, they are benefiting from reviews and pictures posted by TripAdvisor users, according to the study.
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