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In June 2013, BrightLocal, a leading SEO tool provider for local businesses, released results of a survey that examined consumer consumption of online reviews and how they influence their opinions and purchases from local businesses. The study found that 79% of consumer trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

Software Advice, the leading provider of detailed reviews, comparisons, and research for online hotel management software buyers, decided to take this idea decided to take this idea a step further by determining HOW travelers use online hotel reviews.

The company decided to conduct a survey to find out exactly how and why travelers use online reviews, and what aspect of these reviews they find the most convincing when booking a hotel.  Here is a brief summary of their findings.

  • While the largest group of respondents (43%) said they never checked online customer reviews, those who do commonly skewed younger:  30% of 25- to 34-year-olds use reviews most of the time, and 28% of those 18-24 always use reviews.
  • The most common reason for checking online customer reviews of hotels was to identify individual properties to consider in their hotel search (35%).  This was followed by narrowing down hotel possibilities (28%) and finding the best price for a hotel (19%).
  • Expedia (38%), TripAdvisor (28%), and (25%) are the websites used most often by respondents when viewing online customer reviews for hotels.
  • Expedia and TripAdvisor (34%) both topped the list as the most trusted online sources for online hotel reviews. (24%) and (6%) rounded out the list.
  • When reading reviews of hotels online, price (58%) is the most important type of information travelers are looking for followed by proximity to local attractions (16%), and aesthetic features (15%).
  • Specific comments in the reviews (40%) is the element that most likely entices travelers to book a room, followed by percent rating or star rating (29%), and guest-submitted photos (18%).  However, despite comments increasing the likelihood of travelers to book, 47% of respondents would not pay any more for a hotel with a positive online guest review over one without.

Key Takeaways:

This survey continues to reinforce the idea that customer reviews are incredibly important in the travel and hospitality industries, something we have documented numerous times on this blog.

In February, PhoCusWright and TripAdvisor released their own survey claiming that the average hotel guests read 6-12 reviews before booking, and more than half of global respondents do not want to make a booking commitment until they read reviews.

Reviews play an incredibly important role in the travel planning and research process, as they do in any purchase made online.  “The Internet is the first place many consumers go when searching for nearly anything,” said Taylor Short, reviewer for Software Advice. “This trend is also true for hotels as our data shows that most use online reviews to identify hotels to consider before booking.” released its own property review capabilities in late 2013, as part of a series of product launches designed to position the website as one of the top leisure travel websites online today.  In addition to reviews properties, travelers have the opportunity to research and planning their travel experience, and book their trip directly through the website.

To read the full Software Advice report, click here.

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