When was the last time someone told you about a holiday they booked without reading the reviews?
We all look at and read reviews. It’s a standard feature of online research, regardless of the device or amount we are looking to spend. Michael McIntyre summed it up perfectly here.
So why does what other people think matter so much to us?
We trust word of mouth recommendations. These days shopping, for anything, is about finding information for ourselves. A review validates a product or service. It is a social indicator which says, I took a chance; it worked out great for me, don’t worry, you should too.
Consumers instinctively feel better when we see this kind of validation. It’s called social proof, and it’s a necessary feature of any online decision we make. According to a TripAdvisor survey conducted by PhoCusWright, 80% of those booking a hotel look at between 6 and 12 reviews. More than half (53%) won’t book a hotel if there aren’t any reviews. Reviews (good or bad) which receive a management response make people more confident in the hotel (62%), demonstrating the importance of a careful cultivation of a digital reputation.
Five Ways Hotels Can Use Social Proof
- Online Reviews
Allowing unedited online reviews is the minimum you need to be doing. When these reviews, intentionally or not, follow a story type format, we place an even higher burden of trust on them.
A story format transports us into the mindset of another guest, which makes it easier to imagine ourselves in the same position.
- FOMO: Fear of Missing Out
Ever heard the phrase from a parent or teacher as a kid: “If everyone else jumped off a cliff, would you do it too?!”
Turns out the opposite is true. If other people are doing something, we have to join in. FOMO isn’t just a social media buzzword; it’s a real thing. Showcase your popularity – it’s how you become more popular.
- The Power of a Referral
Referrals from friends have the most value. One German bank found customers who came referred from other customers had a 16% higher lifetime value, plus an 18% lower churn rate.
Implicit egotism plays an important role here. We trust the familiar, from facial features to family backgrounds, dress sense to social circles. The more similar people are, or appear, the more we trust them.
- Experts and Influencers
The science behind why we trust influencers is known as the “halo effect”: “a cognitive bias in which we judge someone’s opinion based on our overall impression of him or her.”
William Shatner is no travel expert, unless we count his five-year deep space missions as Captain of the USS Enterprise, but his likeable public image has helped contribute to the $60 billion market cap of Priceline.com.
- User Generated Images
Our brain processes images 60,000 faster than text. We live in a visual world. Customers spend twice as much after visiting a website from Pinterest than Facebook because Pinterest is a visual medium.
So, the next time you have the option of approving a marketing campaign, consider the value of user-generated content. This is the way forward for achieving higher conversions.