Who Do You Trust When Choosing Travel?
Do you believe newspaper adverts over articles? Or maybe the fact that Wayne Rooney is in Barbados with his family recovering from the grind of the World Cup would encourage you to go there? Is it a well-researched guide book or a TV programme that will persuade you to go? Most people would probably say that a recommendation is a key influence. If you know someone who has been there and speaks well of it wouldn’t you take more notice of them? After that you might consider the views of people who leave comments on social networking sites or sites like TripAdvisor?
From America comes research called “2010 Portrait of American Travelers” which has looked at how much people trust online comments as opposed to personal recommendations and other travel information resources. Word of mouth is still the most trusted source with 81% of people saying they would believe it. Travel guidebooks were next but quite a long way behind at 57%. But as the publishers themselves would say, only up-to-date guides should be trusted. The older a source, the greater the likelihood that there will have been change. So you would imagine that the online sites (us included) would have a higher degree of trust. Not necessarily so.
Companies like Expedia (54%) and TripAdvisor (53%) come next above the websites of tourist destinations (46%) and travel agents (46%). Surely tourism destination sites are not completely reliable because aren’t they trying to show their area as not having any warts? And aren’t most travel agents (unless they are tied to an airline/holiday provider less biased? Social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter (19%) and YouTube (14%) are way down the list. Yet these are the very sites that destinations and marketing experts say we must include. One of the authors of the report, Peter Yesawich (a travel researcher of umpteen years standing) says that although you might think that social media is a digital surrogate for word-of-mouth, the public seems unconvinced. Maybe they/we think that the information is unreliable or publicity for whatever they are talking about.
Whatever it is it looks as though those websites and those who put information on them are going to have to work a lot harder to convince us that it is truthful or trusting