Rising to the top of the travel site world is difficult in an increasingly flooded space where travel is done from the couch, well ahead of, or even regardless of any real bookings in the pipeline. The experiences of our fellow travellers are no longer the icing on the cake when it comes to deciding on a destination or hotel, but the whole cake and all its accompaniments.
Travel sites like TripAdvisor have become the holy grail for travellers, particularly those going off the beaten track to lesser known regions. Now worth an estimated £2.5 billion, the site remains unparalleled when it comes to a comprehensive database of vacation locations, what to do there and where to stay. The opinions of other holiday-makers have never been as important as they are now. Listening to the advice of a friend when deciding on a hostel sounds like a reasonable thing to do but taking the advice of total strangers is now done just as easily, if not more hassle-free. Google searches show that the average UK holiday involves around fifty searches and 2.5 hours of on-line investigation before a decision is finally made. Taking this into consideration, travel consumers, rather than sometimes unscrupulous hoteliers and other dodgy service providers, are a better bet when seeking an opinion. Even if you don’t know them. You should never have to arrive at your B&B to find that it looks nothing like the photo ever again.
User-generated content (UGC) is the new wave of travel – many other travel sites and tourism forums now employ customer reviews in order to attract more business and authenticate the quality of their service. The aim of the game seems to be to prove there is nothing to hide, thereby relaxing other potential customers to the idea of paying you a visit. Social buzz has become the key ingredient in not only travel, but food, entertainment and other leisure activities.
How many times have you asked the question, “But what was the Zagat rating?” or what percentage did it get on Hostelbookers.com?