How to use reviews to get travel bookings from younger Millennials
09 May 2019 (Edited 09 May 2019)

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Digital Tourism
Marketing & Advertising

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A new report entitled Impact of Review Content on the Booking Behavior of Digital Natives published by Munich-based guest feedback platform TrustYou describes the results of research conducted by the University of Applied Sciences Bad Honnef · Bonn for Anglo-German tour company TUI.

The researchers defined “digital natives” as consumers aged 18 to 28, born between the years of 1990 and 2000. I prefer to call them "younger Millennials" to make clear we're not talking about highschool-age teens.

The study attempted to determine:

  • How individiuals of this demographic perceive and use reviews of tourism products
  • What characteristics of a review make it relevant to this group
  • What kind of presentation of a review causes it to become a factor in booking for this group

Procedure - researchers:

  1. Conducted 3 focus groups.
  2. Developed survey questions based on focus group results.
  3. Posted experimental; content on the desktop version of the TUI website.
  4. Between June and August 2018, conducted online surveys with 322 individuals in the target demographic.

Key findings

  • Respondents said reviews play an important (59%) or very important (24%) role in booking decisions.
  • Respondents most often (38%) read 6 to 10 reviews prior to booking.
  • Most respondents (76%) said they consider both positive and negative reviews.
  • Trust factors include authentic writing style (73%), detail (69%), currency - past 3 months (66%).
  • Preferred sources of hotel reviews:
    1. (68%)
    2. Google (61%) - particularly for metasearch in the inspirational and research phase
    3. (TIE) TripAdvisor, Expedia (30%)
  • Respondents identified social media channels that revolve around visual media as most popular - e.g., Instagram, Snapchat.
  • Reviews respondents chose as most relevant when displayed on the TUI website:
    • TrustYou Meta-Review (44%)
    • HolidayCheck (German language OTA) (33%)
    • Reviews from other TUI customers (22%)
  • Preferred review presentations:
    1. On a scale (68%)
    2. Combination of scale, score and recommendation rate (51%)
    3. Widgets (29%) - Of the 2 test widgets below, 72% preferred #1 as presenting the most useful information, and 46% preferred #2:

Implications identified by the researchers

  • Embedding reviews is imperative in getting this group to book a trip or accommodation.
  • For them, presence of 3rd-party review widgets like TrustScore adds significant value to websites of tour operators and hotels.
  • To satisfy their fondness for vusual media, accommodation providers and OTAs should allow user-generated images along with professional images, e.g., by embedding their Instagram feed below offers.



First, some caveats:

  • Survey respondents were presumably German-speakers living in Germany, so results may not be universally applicable. But at least for the Western world, I suspect they're close enough.
  • Small sample size - only 322 individuals - of unknown sexes, household incomes, marital status, etc.
  • Travel experience - recent or otherwise - of survey respondents is also unknown. How many overnight rrips have they taken recently, to form the basis for their survey responses?
  • TrustYou, publishers of the report, are an interested party by virtue of inclusion of their TrustYou Meta-Review product in the simulation on the TUI website.

But also, if we'rer able to accept those possible limitations, some actionable items:

  • You must actively seek reviews - hopefully good ones - for your tourism product.
  • Depending on the nature of your product and where the prospect is in the buying cycle, the most important places for your reviews to appear are, Google, TripAdvisor and Expedia.
  • Your website, social-media posts and ad content needs to be heavy on visual contant - videos and photos, including user-generated.
  • A 3rd-party "trust" widget might help. Try it.

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