‘Customer reviews increasingly important in travel decisions’
Kochi, May 12: Travel and tour operators in India need to step up their digital game as a new report shows a growing number of holidaymakers in the country are turning to online platforms to make their travel decisions.
A survey by MyTourReview, a popular review platform for tour operators, into the holiday habits of Indian consumers for 2016, shows that internet users in Mumbai lead online travel searches accounting for 11.6% of people searching for travel destinations, tour packages and making online enquiries.
Bangalore (10.38%), Hyderabad (9.98%), Chennai (9.40%), New Delhi (5.79%) Lucknow (5.76%) Pune (5.64%) and Kochi (5.46%) are the other cities where people are making their travel choices online.
Statewise,Maharashtra (19.48%) topped list followed by Karnataka (12.38%), Telengana (10.98%) and Delhi (10.56%) and Gujarat ranked the lowest with just 2.36% of online travel searches.
The survey of more than 3,300 users shows 75% of the honeymoon trips were booked online and 73% of people booked package holidays because everything is taken care of.
Around 36% of respondents said they choose their destinations for travel inspired by pictures posted on Facebook or Instagram by friends.
The majority of them, around82%, said they choose hotels based on reviews on portals such as TripAdvisor and MyTourReview, and recommendations from travel companies.MyTourReview features more than 700 tour operators across the world has reviews from tens of thousands of users.
The Association of Tourism Trade Organizations India (ATTOI), which created the MyTourReview platform exclusively for costumer reviews for tour operators, says the survey response shows how important it is for travel businesses to maintain online visibility, carry out digital branding and engage with customers on social media networks.
“Conventional tour operators, especially in India, may think online customer reviews and ratings or being present on the internet is secondary to their business, but they need to realize the impact that digital platforms are having on the decisions Indians make on holiday travel,” said ATTOI President Anish Kumar P.K. “If your website does not show up in Google searches, if you are not on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, or responding to customer reviews on TripAdvisor and MyTourReview, you may be losing out on large volumes of business.”
ATTOI has been pushing for more travel and hospitality industry stakeholders in India to use technology to support and grow their businesses.
It is organizing, with the support of Kerala Tourism, an International Conference on Tourism Technology (ICTT) at the Hotel Le Meridien in Kochi from June 8 to 10.
Experts from around the world will be giving out tips on how to create the right content for digital market, how to improve search engine rankings for websites, how to use sites such as Facebook and Instagram for product promotion, how to use WhatsApp for digital marketing and how to tell video stories through YouTube and Facebook live.
Entire sessions have been dedicated to manage online reviews and maintain online reputation including topics such as how to get the most out of review sites, how to respond to negative reviews and how reviews affect people’s conversations.
“The ICTT is a chance for travel businesses to learn from the experiences of people who have benefited tremendously from taking the technology route,” said Anish. “And your consumers are not just sitting behind computers, they are making their searches on tablets and smartphones, so you need to make your presence felt on all devices.”
He said the future of travel is certainly digital, and ATTOI is maximizing its use of technology, for instance in using live streaming as a promotional campaign tool for the upcoming second edition of ICTT.
In December last year, ATTOI, as a curtain raiser to an international conference, organised a live streaming of an underwater engagement to showcase beach resorts as a unique offering of Kerala Tourism. Over 25 lakh viewers across the world watched the video that was streamed live from the beach resort of Kovalam.
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