Consumer online views greatest influence on bookings
March 25th, 2010 by elisa

Middle age travellers are shaping consumer views of the best accomodation and holiday destinations at home and abroad. Social media usage is prompting significant numbers of consumers to book direct, with less than ten per cent saying they visit travel agencies.

The Social Travel Report by independent media agency Total Media, based on a sample of 1,375 people, reveals that large numbers of consumers are opting to book accommodation, flights and activities direct online based on the advice of fellow holidaymakers online that they may not know but trust over industry recommendations.

Independent reviews on travel websites and contacts via social media sites, are more trusted than travel agents, brochures, recommendations from tour operators, reviews by journalists and presenters on TV travel shows.

The study found that almost 70% of consumers use the internet to book their holidays, compared to 23% by phone and just 8% in-store within travel agents.

Consumers aged 35-44 were found to be most likely (74%) to book online. Surprisingly, the age group most likely to visit a travel agent is 16-24 year olds, some seeking advice on how to arrange a gap year of travelling.

A quarter of British travellers say that online reviews by strangers help determine their travel plans compared to 14% for online advertisements, 13% for TV travel programmes, 11% for travel magazines, newspaper supplements and 9% for TV advertising and direct mail. Only recommendations by friends (28%) and family (24%) ranked similarly to online reviews.

Total Media director Nick Oram said: “The travel industry has embraced e-commerce as a way of making the booking process far more cost effective; it must now embrace social media to ensure its communicating with consumers effectively, because when it comes to travel advice, British consumers would rather rely on each other than recommendations from the industry.

“The internet dominates the supply of information about holidays and travel destinations and has effectively extended the power of word of mouth recommendations. The impartial online opinion of travellers who have first-hand experience of a destination is second only now to what you hear from friends, family and work colleagues.

“Because the internet makes it far easier for consumers to pick and choose different elements of a holiday and book their flights and accommodation direct, the opinions of amateur online travel critics can have a huge influence on the popularity of destinations.”

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