A recent survey by Netflights.com shows that despite recent doubts over the authenticity of online travel and hotel reviews, over 75% of UK travellers flying long haul do believe online reviews.
Despite the fact that TripAdvisor and a recent Channel 4 documentary questioning whether or not all reviews can be trusted have both been making headlines in the travel news lately, regarding doubts that some online reviews are not totally credible, 76% of those surveyed by Netflights said they rely heavily on site reviews when choosing where to stay on holiday.
Of the 550 travellers surveyed, all of whom have travelled long haul at least once in the last 12 months, the vast majority said that on the whole they found the content on online review sites to be a valuable guide.
Perhaps more encouraging for hoteliers and timeshare resort owners and operators is the fact that only 12% would rule out a hotel on the basis of one negative online review. However, 54% would choose alternative accommodations if two or more reviewers had indicated that service, facilities or another part of the holiday experience were not up to expectations. 18% claimed these sites only make up part of the hotel decision making process, and that other more traditional factors such as price and location were important.
Surprisingly, a tiny minority, less than 5% of respondents suspected that any content on review sites was biased in any way. A Netflights.com spokesperson said: "Our advice to our customers is always to consider the possible motives of online reviewers and bear in mind that human nature dictates that people are more likely to report a negative experience than a positive one. Seek the advice of family, friends or friends of friends as well as that of impartial travel professionals, whether over the phone or on the high street."
The results of the survey are good news for online review sites including TripAdvisor as they battle to protect their reputations as a fair and impartial consumer champions. Now that postcards are slowly going the way of the dinosaur, social media such as Facebook and Twitter, with their facility to post photos of locations and resorts, are playing a major role in influencing people’s holiday choices and inspiring them – or not! – to try new destinations, based on the first hand holiday experiences of friends, colleagues and family members.