Breaking Travel News here welcomes guest contributor Rob Golledge, head of marketing communication with Amadeus UK & Ireland, to discuss the importance of online reviews with booking travel products.
Research from PhoCusWright released in 2012 underlines how essential online traveller reviews have become for hotel bookings, finding that more than half of guests will not book a room that has no reviews.
The study, carried out on behalf of TripAdvisor, was conducted by questioning 2,739 randomly selected visitors from the popular travel review site, and the results were very much in favour of review data.
It was found that 53 per cent of users would not book a hotel if it didn’t have any reviews on the site, whilst 87per cent agreed that TripAdvisor hotel reviews made them feel more confident in their decisions.
Business travellers, as with leisure travellers, want to know that a hotel has positive reviews before they go ahead and book it; Amadeus studies show that 62 per cent of business travellers feel that travel reviews would be just as beneficial as they are to leisure travellers.
Furthermore, companies will generally have detailed travel policies that need to be adhered to, and these policies can often be very specific.
If business travellers end up booking non-compliant hotels because they are turning to consumer sites that won’t filter the results according to their corporate policies, then the company could miss out on benefiting from its negotiated rates, while the traveller could end up out of pocket by paying for amenities like Wi-Fi that would have been included on the booking for the right room rate at the right property.
After listening to the needs of corporations from around the world, travel technology company Amadeus developed a user-friendly corporate booking tool, Amadeus e-Travel Management.
This solution enables companies to input all of their travel policy rules and guidelines, which are then processed and automatically taken into consideration when employees search for availability and prices using the online booking tool.
Corporations can also integrate preferred suppliers and negotiated rates, helping to keep their travel costs down, while saving time and improving efficiencies.
Amadeus has now gone one step further and launched Amadeus Trusted Reviews, integrated with the corporate booking tool to give employees even more information about travel options before they decide to book.
From the travel management companies’ point of view, Amadeus has found that an effective user generated content strategy can help with self-booking tool adoption, and can drive traffic to both online and offline channels.
User generated content can also help optimise organic search results for TMCs and is often viewed as more engaging by consumers.
When presented with relevant reviews and ratings, business travellers are more likely to see the travel policy as a friend and not a foe to be outsmarted.
Unlike many travel review websites, Amadeus Trusted Reviews only features reviews from verified customers who actually stayed at the hotel in question, therefore ensuring that reviews are more accurate, reliable, and ultimately, trusted.
Launched in December 2013, Amadeus kick-started the programme by tapping into its existing one million hotel reviews, and have already worked with more than 200 corporations across the globe to adopt the review system for their own employees.
In a 2014 Business Insights study commissioned by Amadeus in the UK & Ireland, 36 per cent of those surveyed described travel as enjoyable.
However, for 20 per cent of business travellers it is primarily a stressful experience.
Ultimately it is about choice, and because corporations have a duty of care toward their employees, they’ll want to do all possible to minimise stress and promote traveller well-being.
Business travellers who just want to get on with doing a deal and get out – identified in the study as ‘Corporate Sharks’ - will always prioritise convenience over comfort.
So when they see that a two-star property is convenient to their meeting point, they may well choose to stay in that location as long as the reviews are acceptable.
The important thing is that they know what they are letting themselves in for, and peer reviews will help them do just that.
Trusted Reviews is another example of the blurring between leisure and corporate travel.
But it isn’t surprising when you consider that whatever the reason for travelling – we’re all consumers and we all want to have an enjoyable experience.
Trusted Reviews will go a long way to ensuring that user expectations are firstly managed and ultimately met, which is great news for travellers and the corporations they work for.