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How TripAdvisor Influences Travelers


In an age where it is relatively easy to travel anywhere in the world via plane, there are boundless options for vacations and getaways. How does one decide where to go? TripAdvisor is a popular website that provides hundreds of millions of reviews on hotels, restaurants, and aspects of travel. Its motto, which is “real hotel reviews you can trust”, reflects how crowd influence has the power to impact many people’s travel decisions.

TripAdvisor is essentially a large database of information for potential tourists. Since people are often not familiar with their travel destinations, they rarely have personal knowledge about good local places for entertainment or accommodations. This is why they must depend very heavily on websites like TripAdvisor. Even though a traveler may know consider factors like a hotel’s brand name, those factors can be overshadowed by the significance of thousands of testimonies from a variety of different travelers.

In fact, the website has been making large ripples throughout the tourism industry. According to a study by Cornell University’s Center for Hospitality Research, for every percentage point that a hotel improves its online reputation, its revenue per available room goes up by 1.4 percent.

In a way, TripAdvisor illustrates an interesting phenomenon. Many of its users would not have chosen a hotel themselves (but did stayed there because it was included in tour packages or business accommodations), but are still compelled contribute their insight even if the hotel already has thousands of reviews. The combination of many reviews can paint a detailed picture which translates from useful perspectives from different travelers. In fact, in a study on Irish hotels, it was shown that many hotel owners were able to improve their establishments after paying attention to feedback on TripAdvisor.

This interesting consequence suggests that crowd influence not only impacts the decisions of customers, but also other players involved. Although TripAdvisor may suffer from information cascades which can cause biased reviews, the diversity and wealth of information that it offers is arguably outweighs its shortcomings.





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October 2016