According to Accenture research, 65 percent of consumers trust the reviews on review sites. By comparison, 52 percent trust the reviews on a hotel-branded site.1 Without a doubt, online content—whether marketer or user generated—has an effect on consumer perceptions and actions.
Favorable reviews increase booking intentions. It is no surprise that good reviews can make a difference. Interestingly, the effect of predominantly negative reviews is reduced when the first two reviews in a series are positive.2 Online reviews also have an effect at the room level. When researchers obtained TripAdvisor reviews of more than 300 hotels in London over a 13-week period, occupancy data and revenue per available room (revPAR) over the same period, they found that review scores increased revPAR more for higher-end hotels, while the number of reviews increased revPAR more for lower-end hotels.3
Company responses make a difference. When Australian college students were presented with a fictional Facebook page that contained consumer comments regarding a software company, they had higher perceptions of company honesty, genuineness and trustworthiness from the mixed reviews with a company response than in the all-positive reviews.4
When researchers collected customer reviews of thousands of hotels and management responses from China’s largest online travel agency, they found that receiving a management response to a previous review increased customers’ subsequent reviews of the hotel.5
Negative blog posts affect brand perceptions. Dutch students and volunteers were shown a fictional blog announcement about an automobile recall.6 Evaluations of the brand were significantly higher when the company posted a response—either proactively or reactively—than when it did not respond to the negative consumer post.
Consumer-to-consumer communication on Facebook influences expenditures. In a study among the Facebook community connected to a casual wear retailer in Asia, exposure to more informative and positive communications increased expenditures when it came from consumers than from marketers.7
Exposure to additional, informative marketer-generated content did not reliably increase expenditures.
Consumer-generated content can boost business. A survey among Polish consumers showed that perceptions of marketer-generated Facebook content had no effects on brand loyalty, perceived quality or purchase intentions.8 However in contrast, more favorable evaluations of user-generated content led to greater brand loyalty and perceived quality, which in turn lead to greater purchase intentions.
Standing out in social media
Hospitality and travel industry leaders will use their online presence to their advantage by soliciting, responding to and acting on social media feedback. Companies can use social media as a tool to strengthen connections with existing clients, and even attract new customers. What the industry can’t afford to do is ignore the influence that social media has on the public.
1Accenture hospitality and travel research
2Beverley Sparks and Victoria Browning, 2011, Tourism Management
3Ines Blal and Michael Sturman, 2014, Cornell Hospitality Quarterly
4Victoria Shaw and Brent Coker, 2012. WorldcompConference Proceedings
5Bin Gu and Qiang Ye, 2014, Production and Operations Management
6Guda van Noort and Lotte M. Willemsen, 2011, Journal of Interactive Marketing
7Khim-Yong Goh, Cheng-Suang Heng and Zhijie,2013, Information Systems Research
8Bruno Schivinski and Dariusz Dabrowski, 2013.Working Paper