Academic discovers why travellers trust TripAdvisor
Information quality is the key to success for travel review websites, which is why TripAdvisor still leads the way, according to an expert from a UK business school.
A recent study by Dr Raffaele Filieri from Newcastle University Business School shows that information quality is the most important success factor for travel review websites. And with reviews on sites such as TripAdvisor and Yelp being at the centre of a series of lawsuits, it’s clear just how serious a problem a negative review can be across the travel sector.
The findings also raise an important question around the influence of review sites sfor the global travel industry, which is worth an estimated $7.7 trillion.
The leading academic has developed a model that is able to measure the factors that affect a customer’s trust and the consequences of this trusting attitude. Trust, Filieri argues, motivates the consumer’s positive word of mouth about a consumer review website, which increases the site’s authority and influence.
The tested model – of antecedents and consequences of trust towards consumer review websites – can help businesses to understand how consumer review websites became so popular and the impact that trust has on consumer perception of websites that publish consumer reviews. The study provides suggestions on what these organisations should do to maintain their leading position as primary information sources for consumers.
Filieri said: “Consumer reviews are particularly important nowadays as consumers consult reviews and ratings before buying any sort of product or service.”
His study emphasises the centrality of information quality in online reviews in terms of information credibility, timeliness, value, usefulness and relevancy to satisfy a consumer’s needs.
“Information quality and not the credibility of the source (reviewers) is the most important factor affecting trust towards review websites,” he explained. “Consumers assess the credibility of a reviewer by reading his/her review. It is the quality of the review message that matters to them.”
The study found that the quality of information from consumer reviews, the quality of the website in terms of its capacity to facilitate rapid and effective retrieval of information, customer satisfaction with previous experiences affect trust towards review websites.
Filieri added: “The results imply that even if consumers are aware that not all reviews on Tripadvisor are genuine, they will still trust the website and continue using it because they can still find information that is more valuable (and credible) than information they can find somewhere else, for example in the hotel’s website or other commercial organisations.
“By improving the quality of the information provided by their users, consumer review websites, such as Tripadvisor, can attain many important achievements such as improved customer satisfaction, perceived website quality and trustworthiness, which can boost their popularity and influence in a specific industry.”
In fact, Filieri’s study also found that the higher the trust towards a review website, the more its users will read and adopt the reviewers’ recommendations to make up their mind about the products and services they want to buy.
TripAdvisor and Yelp are among the websites that benefit from online consumer reviews. However, Filieri warned they will need to be more vigilant in order to ensure that most, if not all, reviews and ratings are genuine and trustworthy.
“Keeping the quality of information provided by reviewers high is a major challenge for review websites as publishing fake reviews by posing as a customer is on the rise. The growth of fake reviews might affect the quality of the information hosted by review websites and as a result the credibility and influence of a review website in its industry.”
The findings raise an important question around the influence of sites such as TripAdvisor and Yelp for the global travel industry, which is worth an estimated $7.7 trillion.