Do Hotel Reviews Turn Browsers Into Buyers?

Do Hotel Reviews Turn Browsers Into Buyers?

It is no secret that online traveler reviews have become an industry in its own right. More consumers cite online traveler reviews—especially those on online travel agencies—as influential in the online travel shopping process than any other type of Web site feature or content. But how influential are they really in converting lookers into bookers?

As part of PhoCusWright’s Social Media in Travel: Traffic & Activity, PhoCusWright and Compete looked at visitor traffic and behavior to hotel review pages across the major OTAs. (The study defines a “hotel review page” as one where the full review is accessible.) The discovery: OTA shoppers who visit hotel review pages are twice as likely to convert. On average, 8% of unique visitors to OTAs purchased travel from an OTA in 2009; however, 16% of all unique visitors to OTA hotel review pages purchased travel.

This finding raises an important question: are hotel reviews directly influencing conversion? Or are visitors to the full hotel review pages further down the search-shop-buy process and thus more predisposed to book?

Anecdotal evidence suggests it is likely more the latter than the former, but clearly, there is a connection between purchasing behavior and the tendency to visit hotel review pages on OTAs. Either way, the connection is significant and no doubt one reason why OTAs have been aggressively building their portfolios of hotel reviews, as this this earlier PhoCusWright Connect reports.

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PhoCusWright’s Social Media in Travel: Traffic & Activity is a detailed examination of the role of online social media in travel. Conducted in partnership with Circos Brand Karma, Compete and Travelport, the report analyzed nearly 1.9 million traveler reviews, and visitor referral and conversion traffic from more than 50 social travel Web sites, as well as general social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Knowing how travelers leverage the social Web is an increasingly important key to success for those that need to better understand their customers and connect with them online. The report is available for purchase (US$995).

With a dizzying array of channels, communities and networks to choose from, today’s travelers have a wide variety of ways to connect, share content and experiences. On May 12, PhoCusWright will host a premier Online EventSizing Social Media: Traffic, UGC & Sentiment—which untangles the increasingly complex relationship between between travel and social media. The presentation will also provide in-depth data and findings from PhoCusWright’s Social Media in Travel: Traffic & Activity report as well as forthcoming research on social media in travel. View more information (presenters, key insights and registration link) here.

Purchase PhoCusWright’s Social Media in Travel: Traffic & Activity report and save $100 off the May 12 Online Event regular registration price of $199.