3 Benefits of Hosting Review Data for Travel Intermediaries
I could rattle off statistics on the importance of travel reviews in a traveler’s decision-making process, but you already know that very few travelers hit Book Now without having read at least a few, and possibly many, reviews about the hotel/destination/service. Offering travel reviews at the click of a button is essential, but I’m often surprised by the number of travel intermediaries sending travelers to other sites - sometimes even to a direct competitor - to read them. Hosting travel reviews, or better yet, a summary of travel reviews, makes sense not just as a way to keep from losing business, but as a way to increase traveler confidence in your company and substantially improve your chances of seeing bookings through to completion.
Here are three key benefits of hosting review data on your website.
Keep the right traveler on-site
Research by Bazaarvoice has shown that the number of reviews and the average rating for a product correlate closely with conversion to purchase. Additionally, travelers who read reviews show a lift of 77% in conversions and 61% in revenue per visit. Travel companies that link out to travel reviews are naturally reducing their chances of capturing the bookings of these lucrative review-reading travelers.
Travel intermediaries benefit not just from increased conversions when hosting travel review data but can also opt for a review provider that emphasizes verified travel reviews, increasing traveler confidence in the reviews and in the overall intermediary. To my next point…
Increase confidence and decrease booking abandonment rates
The booking abandonment rate for OTAs is an astounding 89.1%. Hotels, on the other hand, have the lowest abandonment rates in the travel industry at 67.6% (Tnooz). The jury is still deliberating on why OTAs have such high booking abandonment rates, but the cause is likely located in travelers’ insecurity about OTAs (i.e., how cancellations will be handled and the potential for customer service problems) as well as frustration that crops up during the booking process. Travel intermediaries still suffer from a confidence crisis that directly affects booking abandonment so any initiative that increases consumer confidence—third-party powered travel review data on the intermediary site, for instance—stands to increase bookings.
Personalized travel reviews as a marketing tool
I also imagine that when a traveler is reviewing 6-12 websites during the process of booking, they probably as many windows open on their device. And at least some percentage of the time, they drop the booking process because they find something more compelling in one of those other windows at the last minute. A travel intermediary can’t just rely on low rates to close the deal. Hosting travel reviews with a personalized search capability can become a way to make your site more attractive than your competitor. Draw travelers in and keep them engaged with custom searches (i.e., allow searches based on a hotel that’s like another hotel the traveler enjoys or add qualitative review data to the search capability).
Whether your build it yourself or you rely on a partner, hosting reviews is fundamental to gaining a competitive edge in an overcrowded intermediary marketplace. Ultimately, the better the review platform, the more leverage travel intermediaries will have in luring guests as well as closing the deal.