Published September 19, 2013
As more and more people use the internet around the world, online reviews of businesses are becoming critical since many customers are now basing their decision on them. Word of mouth recommendations may still be valued the most, but internet reviews, according to research, are expected to exceed them in value in the near future. This is because the online community grows constantly and most people seem to take decisions based on the experience the others share.
Research shows that 79% of hotel consumers accord as much trust to online reviews as they do to online recommendations. Out of these, 30% trust the reviews if they believe they are authentic, 25% accord credit only to multiple reviews and the other 24% trust only reviews of certain businesses.
These findings by Local Consumer Review Study, published in June 2013, also suggest that more and more consumers prefer to read reviews as part of their pre-research plan in selecting a local business. Such reviews help consumers to form an opinion faster, and they also need to read fewer reviews than they used to in the past, with only 22% reading seven or more reviews to form an opinion (as compared to 44% in 2011).
Hotels need to monitor their online reputation. Negative reviews can slide in very easily, and this could create a bad image for the business. As for the hoteliers’ budget in 2014, it is quite clear that guest reviews need to be integrated in the marketing strategies of these institutions.
The study also points out that internet reviews tend to be trusted more by the younger audience (18-34 years), who accord 90% legitimacy to them. By comparison, the trust of people aged between 35 and 54 of the same reviews is 80% while the older ones, aged 55+ years, give them 72% credibility.
When it comes to gender, the women trust online reviews more, with 81% of the female customers according them credit. By comparison, 75% of the men surveyed accorded them the same credibility. Females tend to pay more attention to the authenticity of reviews (35 % of them deem this chapter as highly important), while men tend to be more interested in the number of reviews available on the site.
According to the study, customers are most interested in seeing what others think about certain cafes and restaurants, with 61% of the audience reading reviews for these types of businesses regularly. At the same time, dentistry cabinets and hotels/guest houses are also on high demand, with 31% and 28%, respectively, of the customers paying increased attention to what people are saying about them.
Customers are mainly looking for reliability, good value and expertise; but professionalism and business accreditations are important for them when taking a decision. The survey also highlights the fact that many people prefer to recommend a business via social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, but they prefer reading reviews from a variety of sources as long as they deem them to be reputable.