Travelers have always relied heavily on recommendations for trip inspiration and planning, and online review sites have made peer commentary much more visible and accessible. As this information becomes simultaneously more sophisticated and unwieldy, there are both opportunities and challenges for marketers.
Travel reviews posted online have exploded in recent years. The number of reviews on TripAdvisor, for example, surpassed 100 million in March 2013, bolstered by a 50% increase year over year. While TripAdvisor far and away boasts the most traveler-submitted reviews, other major online travel sites have also compiled tens of millions more.
More than half of the 15,000 internet users worldwide who responded to TripAdvisor’s TripBarometer study, conducted by StrategyOne in January 2013, said they’d written a review for an accommodation after staying there, and 41% noted that they also shared personal recommendations via other online channels, such as social networks or email messages.
As reviews proliferate, a debate has intensified among travel professionals over whether consumers should trust what they read on user-generated content sites.
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