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Self-Catering Holidays Research Starts With Reviews
Half of all adults now search for holiday information online, in addition to using the internet to make bookings, but there are big changes afoot. Holidaymakers are now looking to each other for advice and information about self-catering accommodation.
According to the leisure research company Mintel, holidaymakers are becoming more inclined to rely on reviews from the general public than from official sites. In the 'Holidays on the Internet' report, it is reported that "There is massive interest in consumer generated content and reviews. This is having an impact on the holiday market as holidaymakers are becoming more inclined to rely on reviews from the general public - anti-experts - than look for official sites or professional reviews".
In the 2009 Mintel report it is clear that reviews are no longer just part of the research process, they are the first port of call with one in three people searching for independent advice.
"User generated reviews are becoming the currency of the research process and for many holidaymakers their first point of online research is independent reviews. The travel industry has to start embracing them.
"For increasing numbers of travellers, their first point of online research is the user-generated sites, where real people contribute their own content, typically in the form of reviews or opinions. This is displacing the world of anodyne travel guides and the sanitised descriptions provided by the travel suppliers. Consumers expect, indeed enjoy, the warts and all".
Incredibly, some US research suggests that for many people the most enjoyable elements of their holiday are the rituals and research that go into the booking process - more so than the holiday itself.
So what should holiday cottage owners do?
If you own or run a holiday property you will be busy and asking for reviews is rarely top of mind but, as Mintel say, you need to know where these conversations between holidaymakers are happening and you need to get involved.
Ask for reviews - people really don't mind being asked. Ask your guests to add a review to MyCottageHoliday.co.uk. Most guests are happy to add a comment if they remember when they get home. You could use our personalised Review Request leaflets or, if you send a thank you email, why not add a request and a link?
Do something now - a property page with no reviews does not make a good impression - don't wait. The sooner you ask for reviews, the sooner you will build a credible list of opinions and the more it will help you with bookings for next season.
Keep encouraging reviewers - recent reviews carry more weight, so keep at it. Make asking for reviews part of your routine. It'll become a habit and you'll end up with far more comments.
Ask previous guests - they'll want to help. If you have a list of previous guests, why not email them or write to them and ask for a review? Most people will be happy to hear from you again and if you make it easy for them by including a link, you'll get a good response.
Post a reply - show them you are listening. At the Best of Britain and Ireland travel show in May, Justin Reid of Visit Britain concluded that reviews are more credible if owners sometimes add a reply. It shows that you read - and react to - the comments. If you listen to reviews, the implication is that you're more likely to resolve any issues that might arise if the holidaymakers is staying with you.
Add your MyCottageHoliday reviews to your own site - don't miss an opportunity to reassure potential guests. You are working hard to get visitors to your own website. So why not include your most recent independent reviews on your site. And if you use the MyCottageHoliday snippets code, you won't even need to update them - we'll automatically send excerpts from the most recent reviews to your site.
Get in touch with us - we're here to help. And if you have a successful review generating strategy, we'd love to know. Contact the MyCottageHoliday editors
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IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER - PLEASE READ - All reviews are posted by third parties. As such they do not represent the views of My Cottage Holiday Limited nor should they be taken as a recommendation by My Cottage Holiday Limited of any property. ALL reviews are the opinions of other users and may not be accurate. They do not represent the views of MyCottageHoliday or its employees. We accept no responsibility for the accuracy of the information provided on the site. The reviews and property descriptions are provided by members of the public to help you choose a holiday cottage but you should personally check ALL details with the property owner or their agent before making a booking.
My Cottage Holiday Ltd, Home Farm Cottage, Knowle, Braunton, Devon, EX33 2LY, Company No. 09974415,