January 16, 2018, by Gilad Berenstein, CEO of Utrip
Every industry has been continually shaped by the onslaught of digital innovation during these last few years, and the travel industry has been no stranger to this trend. One of the biggest innovations in the industry was the introduction of review sites.
Companies like Yelp and TripAdvisor have built their reputations on providing unbiased reviews of travel destinations, attractions, restaurants and everything in between.
But like any other trend, if these ideas are not refined and revisited to match consumer needs, they often become obsolete. The lack of personalization and authenticity within review sites can really drag down the consumer experience and ultimately, hurt your brand.
Review sites are aggregated and built on the reviews of many, many users. This is great for finding general information, but there is absolutely no level of personalization, and if you look closely, many reviews—for even the most popular attractions—are utterly ridiculous. Similarly, it can become difficult to ascertain authenticity in all that noise, and travelers often face difficulty in finding the right place for their unique needs within the context of these review sites.
Consider the following statistic: travelers spend up to 30 hours planning a vacation and visit 38 different websites before completing a booking.
This demonstrates that now more than ever before, travelers are spending an incredible amount of time online for their research. But travelers do so because they are savvier than ever before. They know that if used correctly, digital tools can create travel experiences that are authentic and personal - without sacrificing convenience.
That, however, is becoming increasingly difficult to find with the onslaught of review sites that are not curated to account for different user preferences and tastes. Today's travelers want an experience that is personalized and tailored to their preferences rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. If companies are able to provide that level of personalization along with authentic, on-the-ground experiences and recommendations - that is the key to success in the digital age.
Travel companies must use this new year as a blank slate in many ways and focus on aspects of their business that provide these two key traits for travelers. In many ways, tools such as TripAdvisor, Yelp, Google reviews are not able to offer those qualities for travelers and often, this can ruin a traveler's experience. The drawbacks of these review sites are vast: they do not provide the right level of personalization, nor are they able to really validate the authenticity of the reviewers.
Using the drawbacks of review sites as a foundation, travel companies must focus on offering tailored recommendations that remain authentic while also enabling and empowering their customers in the form of self-service.