Customer Central: Why User-Generated Content is so Important.
By EyeforTravel
Thursday, 5th September 2013
Getting to know what your customer wants is essential in the ever-shifting, increasingly competitive world of travel.

Conducting research on customers is a great way to uncover accurate insights but it's important to adapt the business as a result, says Bazaarvoice.

With technology that powers review programmes for many top travel brands including online travel agents, hoteliers and destinations, Bazaarvoice is able to uncover some relevant and accurate insights into traveller behaviour and their complex needs.

In a recent study of consumer-generated content it found that travellers who write positive reviews most often mention the front desk, the hotel location and breakfast. Of course, not all reviews are positive but Bazaarvoice is also able to analyse negative content.

For example, business travellers are most often dissatisfied with the Internet service and the fitness room.  "Data like this gives great insight to travel brands that are looking to adapt marketing messages to traveller sentiment," explains Laessig, adding that brands should, and often do, change many aspects of their business based on such consumer sentiment including marketing, customer service, product improvement, and services offered.

On the move 

One significant shift in consumer behaviour is being driven by mobile. In fact EyeforTravel.com's recent Social Media & Mobile in Travel Distribution Report, 2013 shows that mobile is undoubtedly powering the last-minute booking trend.

Bazaarvoice's interaction with the industry seems to back this up. According to Laessig, in a recent industry panel with Bazaarvoice, IHG shared that 60% of their mobile bookings are same-day and for shorter stays. So their hoteliers are focused on pushing last-minute deals to mobile users.

Similarly, Travelocity knows that 80% of users still have a question after looking at a property's page. Knowing half of these users are likely on mobile devices, Travelocity needs a simple way to deliver content while keeping them on the site. In other words, first and foremost websites need to be optimised for mobile – and also linked to relevant user-generated content.

Reviews are relevant!

So, when it comes to how brands can improve their desktop and mobile web experience, Bazaarvoice has this recommendation:

  • Promote user-generated content (ratings, reviews, stories, questions, answers) in the mobile environment to help fill in any gaps in information.
According to EyeforTravel.com's most recent research, given the verifiable and shareable nature of reviews delivered via social networks, combined with user-generated fresh content, travel brands are increasingly integrating their latest reviews – irrespective of ratings – into their online content.

This is a good move. "Reviews provide travellers with the information they need to make a purchase decision," says Laessig, and research shows that people who read reviews are more likely to book.

Travelocity, a long-time Bazaarvoice client, observes that visitors who interact with review content have a 103% higher conversion rates. Little wonder then that Google and other search engines are increasingly valuing fresh organic content in their ranking algorithms.

As Laessig points out, review content is rich in natural organic language that consumers use when searching for travel information, and that this generates a long-tail of search terms for travellers to find a site. To this end, Bazaarvoice structures review content to be indexable by search engines and optimised to maximise its SEO impact.

To hear more insights from Matt Laessig, Head of Travel at Bazaarvoice join us at EyeforTravel's Travel Distribution Summit, North America 23-24 September. Bazaarvoice is a gold sponsor of the event.

Travel Distribution Summit North America 2013
23/09/2013 - 24/09/2013, The Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago

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