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BizReport : Social Marketing : February 13, 2014

User-submitted images important to travelers researching accommodation, sight-seeing

How many reviews do you read through before committing to a hotel booking or a table at a restaurant? A new survey, conducted by PhoCusWright for TripAdvisor, reveals all.

by Helen Leggatt

Sites such as TripAdvisor enable travelers to thoroughly research destinations, accommodation, local attractions and dining experiences. I use TripAdvisor a lot, and spend hours reading through reviews and viewing user images before deciding on where and what to book.

But, on average, how many reviews do people trawl through before feeling confident enough to part with their hard-earned cash? According to the TripAdvisor-commissioned research, when researching a place to say, 80% read at least 6 - 12 reviews before making a decision, with the most-recent reviews of most interest.

When researching where to eat, or local attractions, 20% of travelers read over 11 reviews before making up their mind.

So important are reviews that more than half of travelers researching on TripAdvisor won't book a hotel if it has no reviews. On the other hand, reviews that are extreme - either in their gushing praise or downright disgust - are largely ignored. However, favorable user photographs and TripAdvisor awards are likely to tip the balance in favor of a property, restaurant or local attraction. User photographs are one of the main features I tend to look at, more so than the professional photographs submitted by the business owner, and I'm not alone - 73% of TripAdvisor visitors rely on user-submitted images to make a decision.

"There is no denying that reviews are a powerful and significant part of the travel planning experience," says Barbara Messing, chief marketing officer, TripAdvisor. "The results of this study showcase the vital part reviews play, reinforce the idea that we are becoming more social as travelers and demonstrate the essential nature of reviews to hospitality businesses."

Tags: consumer reviews, hotel industry, review website, travel research

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