The importance of reviews for travel websites

Consumers are gaining more and more power, particularly online. As a result of this shift in customer influence, businesses from every sector are having to be on their best behaviour, in both the offline and online worlds.

TripAdvisor, the ubiquitous travel review site, helps millions of travel customers share their thoughts and experiences everyday – but even this site is coming under fire for its approach to reviews, as it has recently been revealed that the site has banned users from posting reviews in Welsh. Despite allowing reviews in 28 different languages to be shared, Welsh has been banned for breaching the site's language guidelines, sparking controversy from Welsh speakers across the globe.

With even a travel review website failing to get reviews right, other travel brands may give up in despair – but this mustn't happen. As a recent Econsultancy blog notes, 61% of customers read online reviews before making a purchasing decision, so sites selling a travel product or service must take reviews seriously.

Positive reviews have a positive impact

Having positive reviews on a site can help to increase conversion rates exponentially. In fact, reviews are often considered to be as influential regarding whether a customer completes a purchase or not as price – so highlighting positive reviews and making them easy to post is key to travel website success and more completed sales.

Reviews are considered very trustworthy

Similarly, studies have revealed that consumer reviews are more trusted than information from manufacturers or other corporate providers – so as well as providing guarantees from other travel sites or corporatations, websites should also include customer reviews. Plus, customers prefer to read reviews on company websites rather than magazines, newspapers or on social media; so including them on a travel site is important.

Consulting reviews part of the travel planning process

Some more research, this time from the 2015 Custom Survey Research Engagement study, has found that consulting reviews has in fact become an essential part of the travel planning process. Nearly 15,000 participants responded to the survey request in April, and it was found that 79% of those looking for accommodation would read between six and 12 reviews across four to 10 properties before making a decision on where to stay. Travel sites with the most reviews, including recent stories from happy customers and thoughtful responses from staff, were also found to be the most appealing.

There are SEO benefits

Finally, time to get technical – a travel site looking for more organic reach and unique visitors should utilise reviews more, as they provide fresh content for search engines. This helps travel sites to move up the search engine results pages (SERPs) and reach more customers. Search engines like content that is unique and updated regularly, so if a travel site has an easily accessible review section and encourages users to share their opinions, it will benefit from higher SERPs listings and more clicks.

So, does your travel site appreciate the value of reviews? Will you be making it easier in the future for your customers to write up their experiences and share them with the world?