Consumers of all ages seeking advice and tips from review websites

The power of independent travel review websites is finally being realised as consumers increasingly turn to them for advice and tips about products and services.


Research by TripVision during July and August this year revealed 10% of consumers had visited the influential Holidaywatchdog.com – while 4% claimed the site had affected their purchasing decision.


TripAdvisor also featured in the survey of 1,000 consumers, with 23% visiting and 16% acknowledging the site had influenced them.


However, the research found a drop-off in the number of people in older age groups admitting they had been influenced by reviews sites (the list also included ReviewCentre.co.uk and HolidaysUncovered.co.uk).


TripAdvisor, for example, was cited by 11.5% of those in the 55+ category, against 20% of 26-35 year olds.


TripVision managing director David Jones says: “The older age groups have finally caught up with the Internet as a booking device – and they like it!


“The interesting part is that these people are the slowest to try the deeper recesses of the Internet, like the services of TripAdvisor.


“The big barrier for the oldsters is the techno babble around all these new sites and services, which makes them hard to find and understand.”


Information elsewhere in the report indicates that with the process of actually booking a product there is still some variation between age groups.


Almost a third those questioned in the online survey “called in at a shop” while 40% had booked online.


In terms of individual age groups, 41% of 16-25s booked online, 50% of 26-35s, 36% of 36-54s and 38% of over-55s.


Jones adds: “Older people tend to use the Internet alone and are not networked into the ‘tipping point mavens’ who can help them get into new ideas/technology.


“The big challenge for these [travel] sites is, given that older people are a huge and growing market, how to reach them. Conventional sites like tourist boards could be a way, as well as more high-level advertorial on conventional media.”


The research found 22% of over-55s used tourist board websites to plan their trip – their fellow travellers in the 16-25 bracket numbered just 6%.


The Google search engine was cited by at least one third of all age groups as a place they used to plan their trip, higher than travel review sites (18%), travel company websites (26%), price comparison sites (21.5%) and social networking sites (1%).

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