Online holiday shoppers miss out by copying others
When it comes to booking holidays online, Brits are more persuaded by the behaviour of other travellers than lower prices, according to a new survey.
The study found holidaymakers were 10 per cent more likely to book if they saw the herd mentality message ’12 other people have booked’ and 14 per cent more likely to hit the ‘book’ button when the message shot up to ’40 other people have booked’, indicating when it comes to booking holidays, we follow the pack.
The study of more than 1,200 Brits was conducted by IHG Rewards Club, the loyalty programme of InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) in conjunction with behavioural science expert Dr Joe Gladstone of University College London.
Professor Gladstone, who specialises in Consumer Behaviour, said the habit of copying other shoppers is down to ‘social proofing’ – a psychological phenomenon whereby people unconsciously copy others when a sense of urgency is generated.
The research – which examined behaviour when booking hotels, flights and travel insurance – also found reviews from other travellers were more powerful than pricing discounts. Almost half of those surveyed (48%) admitted they were persuaded to book after reading positive reviews from other travellers, 40% more than when no message was shown.
Professor Gladstone said: “Our brains have evolved to respond in these ways for good reasons: copying the herd helps us make quick decisions, and can be a very sensible thing to do if we do not have time to make an independent decision under pressure. But these ways of thinking can sometimes lead us astray – or allow us to be led astray.
“Consumers are bombarded with these kinds of marketing tactics every time we go on line, and the study clearly shows that they work – when unsure, we simply follow the person ahead of us, even if it’s not a good deal.”
The study also found that while 60% of Brits admit they have a habit of using price comparison sites, a whopping eight in 10 admit they don’t believe they always offer the best deals.
Apurva Pratap, IHG’s vice president of Distribution and Commercial Marketing, said: “Our research shows there’s a lot of confusion around where to find the lowest deal and that persuasive tactics often mean travellers are stretching their purse strings more than they have to. We know our guests like choice, but they also want to know that they’re not paying over the odds for their room.”