Using Reviews To Increase Conversion Rates and Create Better Travel Experiences

You might have heard this statistic before, but it is worth repeating: the average traveler visits 22 websites when planning a trip. 22! This number has been heavily publicized in the last few years to encourage hotels to increase their search engine visibility. This is certainly very important, but I am interested in analyzing ways to reduce this number in order to provide travelers with a better (and faster) booking experience. The solution lies in traveler reviews.

Many OTA’s and travel review sites understand that travelers don’t want to visit two dozen different travel sites. They capitalize on it by offering the full spectrum of travel planning opportunities—research, reviews, and bookings—all in one place. The proof that it works is in the conversions: OTAs continue to track ahead of brand websites in bookings, according to a December 2013 review by TravelClick. Some brands have wised up to this statistic and have since incorporated reviews onto their websites, which is a great start to improving conversion rates (travelers who read reviews have a 77% higher conversion rate according to Bazaarvoice).

That said, simply jumping on the review bandwagon won’t save your website anymore. What will rescue it is improving overall review usability and creating a better experience for travelers. They are currently faced with thousands of reviews—paragraph after paragraph of details about other travelers’ experiences. Travelers need consolidation and easy access to highlights.

Meta-ReviewsTM, which are essentially summaries of all verified reviews worldwide, do the dirty work of weeding out unnecessary details and providing high-level overviews about a given hotel. Is the hotel known for its comfortable bed? Its party scene? The bartender’s killer Martini in the lobby bar? With Meta-Reviews, travelers know immediately without having to read one person’s daily chronicle of their hotel experience.


Meta-ReviewsTM reduce the amount of time travelers spend reading reviews so that they can make faster booking decisions directly on your site (read: higher conversion rates and more repeat visits). This also allows travelers to spend more time with other engaging content on your site. More time to daydream about their trip and consider what activities they’d like to do. More time to book restaurant reservations, spa appointments, rental cars, etc. All of these things equate to a better travel experience, not just during the search-shop-buy process but also while traveling.

Hospitality is fundamentally about making the traveler experience the very best it can be, and in the tourism industry, we’re constantly charged with improving. Airlines offer mobile boarding passes, hotels offer check-in via app, travelers can get text messages when their rooms are ready. And now, travel reviews have evolved into something beyond being the single-most time sucking aspect of travel planning, improving both your website’s conversion rates and then entire travel experience.