Tourists shun travel agents in favour of web


12 Jun 2007

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Only 13pc of us would trust a travel agent or brochure over the online advice of a complete stranger, according to a recent survey carried out by Lightspeed International.

The survey, commissioned by Boo.com, a collaborative travel site run by the Irish founder of hostelworld.com, found that over three quarters of those polled about holiday habits had opted for researching and booking directly via the web.

Online advice from fellow travellers who have posted reviews on sites like Boo.com and Trailfinders.com are being relied on more and more. Of those who did online research before heading to their destination of choice, there was a 90pc satisfaction rate.

“Peer reviews have rapidly changed the travel-booking process. We at Boo.com know how important collective wisdom is in helping people make the right travel decisions,” said Ray Nolan, CEO of Dublin-based Boo.com.

“We have also introduced a Boo trust rating index which enables reviewers to earn the trust of the rest of the community based on the number of reviews they have submitted and how useful these were considered. This takes some of the risk and anonymity out of the whole decision-making process.”

The research highlighted a growing trend for tourists to share their experiences among the online community, with one in six posting a review after returning from holiday.

Psychologist Donna Dawson said: “We no longer need to meet face-to-face in order for trust to develop; we can follow the reports of one or more fellow-travellers over time to see if their priorities are the same as ours.

“And the conclusion we then reach is that we would rather put our trust in someone who appears similar to ourselves than a travel agent who may have a hidden agenda.”

However, the Irish and British are much more likely to trust an Australian than an American when it comes to believing the reviews of online tourists and we don’t rate ourselves highly either, with the Irish coming fourth after Aussies, Kiwis and Canadians in trustworthy global trekkers.

By Marie Boran