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BizReport : Research archives : September 04, 2009

Survey: Many expect user reviews, few submit them

New research in the U.K. has revealed that while many travelers rely on reviews found on independent websites and travel companies websites, few share their own thoughts.

by Helen Leggatt

The annual Thomson and First Choice trends report found there needs to be more balance when it comes to online travel reviews. Just one quarter of the 1,700 people surveyed post reviews on independent review websites and only one in five do so on a travel company's website.

"However," said Dermot Blastland, managing director of TUI Travel UK & Ireland, the parent company of Thomson and First Choice, "half of the people we surveyed independently and 70% of our own customers say they use these reviews in planning their own breaks."

Thomson already has more than 50,000 customer comments on its website and introduced TripAdvisor in 2007.

While a significant number of travelers said they have a certain amount of trust in the reviews they find online, a fifth remain skeptical for three main reasons:

1. They expect reviews to be complaints.

2. They believe that what other travelers find acceptable might not be acceptable to them in terms of standards.

3. They have concerns that reviews may be written by those who have an interest in the business.

So, how can you make your customer-generated online reviews more believable? Try incorporating images of the person or family writing the review - or even video. This makes the review far more compelling and interesting to watch. Viewers can see the persona behind the review and make better choices.

If you have a guest-book, make it available to read online. Hotel SO, in New Zealand, has made actual images of their guest-books available on their website, and have even parked it on a separate domain -

Tags: online reviews, travelers, U.K., user reviews

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