Today’s travellers want to be seen, heard, thrilled and reassured — both online and offline. So one-way conversations and knockout marketing content alone won’t cut it anymore.
Before transportation, tours and accommodation are booked, travellers will search for inspiration and stories from other travellers for everything they need to see, do and feel before and during their trip.
Why? Because they long for experiences and connections — and they want them as personalised and local as possible.
So when it comes to making a purchasing decision, consumers will increasingly turn to the advice of their peers and to brands that have earned their trust based on their experience interacting with the brand.
Reviews provide easily accessible “proof” from your customers who are sharing their stories — which may influence other consumers’ buying decisions. There’s a story behind every review, and travellers can’t get enough.
Your Relationships With Your Customers Are Your Currency
Trustpilot found that 68% of people believe holidays are an important personal investment — making it more important than ever for travel, tourism and leisure brands to differentiate themselves from the competition and build trustworthy relationships with their customers and prospects.
And reviews may very well be the channel to shine amongst your competitors. Here’s why:
- Online reviews are today’s word of mouth recommendations.
- Consumers will form an opinion about you before ever walking through your doors — by consulting customer reviews on Trustpilot, Google and TripAdvisor first.
- Honest, authentic reviews are critical for establishing trust and helping consumers make their purchasing decisions.
- Consumers are not only reading reviews, but they’re also giving them, too.
- Social signals such as reviews and interactions with customers are especially valuable for a higher Google ranking.
Why Reviews Matter
How influential are reviews on actual sales? According to a study published in Inc. magazine, 84% of people trust online reviews as much as they trust a recommendation from a friend.
Consumer reliance on online reviews for the travel and hospitality sector has steadily increased:
- Trustpilot found that 77% of travellers say that positive online reviews are very important or important when deciding who to book with .
- 88% of travel consumers said reviews played an important role in influencing their purchase.
- Online customer reviews for hotels are more influential than a company’s own website — approximately five times as many people trust hotel customer reviews over a website.
- 81% of travel consumers will not buy a travel experience from a company known to have poor customer service.
Reading and responding to reviews can help businesses discover more about their target market and see the business through the customer’s eyes.
Even more importantly, best practice review management — encouraging, tracking and responding to online feedback — can sway customer purchasing decisions, particularly as reviews and other user generated content influence where a brand ranks in search results.
Ready to get started?
3 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Today’s Traveller Now
1. Develop relationships early in the journey with search
The journey of today’s traveller starts with a single search on mobile. But the path to purchase is not linear — it’s full of twists, turns and plenty of pit stops along the way.
Mobile use continues to change the way people travel. Our travel agent and tour guides are now located inside of our pocket, guiding us where to go and showing us how and where to get what we need — right here and now.
So when mobile users are ready to act, they act quickly. This means that the window of time between searching for a tour, attraction and experience and booking is getting smaller.
Travellers want to know what your customers are saying about you.
From booking a family vacation in California to searching for the “best city tours in London near me”, consumers don’t want any surprises along their information gathering and buying journey.
They’re turning to their mobiles phones and relying on search queries, such as “best hop-on, hop-off bus tour near me” and recent reviews from happy customers to build excitement as they countdown to their experience. They also want to map out their experience beforehand: from confirming opening and closing hours to wait times.
However, if consumers find hundreds of rave reviews on their preferred platforms, and your teams on the ground offer memorable interactions there’s a great chance you’ll see them again soon.
2. Build Excitement Along the Way
Your guests also want your help along their buying journey by keeping up momentum as they countdown to their trip.
Brands in the travel and tourism space have a unique opportunity to “spark excitement” with consumers in the days, weeks and months leading up to their reservation, hotel or spa stay, activity and travel adventure.
Start by getting your local teams to be more proactive with your existing customers and leads. This can be as simple as posting relevant images across social channels or encouraging your customers to review your business and then reacting to reviews immediately, showing them that you appreciate their feedback.
3. Focus on Human Interactions Not Transactions
The tour leader who keeps your kids interested in the sights and sounds on your city tour, or the front desk, or the guide who shows you Colorado by bike off the beaten path. In today’s hyper-digital world, memorable human interactions are your competitive advantage.
Why? When you make your customers feel like they matter, they talk to friends, use social media and share their experiences about their interactions with you online.
Over the past two decades, many brands have focused, and spent millions, on delivering the digital transformation for their companies. However, we should not forget, technology is just a means to help build a set of consistent, human-like interactions across digital touchpoints, as opposed to an end in itself.
Many well-known activewear and beauty brand retailers, for example, have perfected the online to offline ‘Near Me’ Brand Experience. That is, they make it easy for consumers to find them and like them online, by piquing interest and encouraging brand loyalty.
Then, when they step into your location, their in-person moments not only match their search and discovery, and engagement experience but also give them a memorable encounter with your brand — full of hands-on experiences, such as product testing or an interactive experience. It’s these human to human moments that push your customers to come back and recommend you online.
Tools to Help You Now
Customer reviews are one of the most important channels marketers for travel brands can use to optimise their online reputation and reach more nearby consumers.
By tapping into the power of word-of-mouth reviews, your customers act as brand ambassadors that help you stay ahead of your competitors.
But reputation management can be a tricky business, because it also includes more than just managing your reviews.
It also involves:
- Engaging with your customers where they are searching
- Having accurate online information about your offline products/services
- Making sure your in-store products/services line up with your online information/promise
- Understanding the trends in negative customer reviews and making changes to makeyour service better
- Replying to both good and bad reviews
To better understand how travel companies like yours can stand out in a crowded market with a completed reputation management approach to improve reviews, Uberall created The Ultimate Guide to Customer Reviews for Travel, Tourism and Leisure Brands: How to win over customers on review sites and social media.
Get your free copy today, and learn easy ways to build consumer trust and deliver better online and offline experiences with the four-step reputation management guide.