Research by the Department of Economics, Management and Industrial Engineering of the University of Aveiro
Online comments on hotels are crucial to attract tourists
O investigador Romeu Lopes
Online comments and opinions on hotels are decisive when booking a housing unit. This is one of the conclusions of a study of the University of Aveiro (UA) that aimed at understanding the credibility and relevance of those comments in the tourist’s decision-making process. The same study shows that, in spite of the fact that online travel sales represent nowadays a considerable and increasing market share, a significant number of tourists still chooses to book a room by a direct contact with the hotel. This situation is not at all surprising since in many cases hotel rates are the same as those proposed by online-based intermediaries.

The work involved interviews to 351 internet users, who have booked hotel rooms through online platforms. The results leave no doubts and confirm that most of the tourists read online comments before booking a hotel, “considering them reliable, trustworthy and accurate”.

The research shows that “the number of tourists that prefer and trust sites with amateur comments is increasing” to the detriment of the price factor, not least because many hotels end up selling offline at the same rate as their online-based intermediaries. “Sometimes, any price reduction obtained by online booking is small or non-existent”, concludes Romeu Lopes, teacher at the Polytechnic Institute of Guarda, recently appointed as sub-director of the School for Tourism and Hotel Studies (Escola Superior de Turismo e Hotelaria), in Seia.

Defining strategies is crucial

With this work, Romeu Lopes aims at making tourism companies aware of the importance of comments and opinions by users, key point “not only for the tourists’ decision-making process, as well as for the companies’ image and reputation”.

 “Companies in the tourism sector should, therefore, define a digital marketing strategy integrated to their mission, vision and objectives, in order to identify needs, exceed expectations and maintain clients”, suggests the author.