Word of Mouth, the Importance of Reviews and Ratings in Tourism Marketing
Mellinas, Juan Pedro
The Internet and social media have given place to what is commonly known as the democratization of content and this phenomenon is changing the way that consumers and companies interact. Business strategies are shifting from influencing consumers directly and induce sales to mediating the influence that Internet users have on each other. A consumer review is “a mixture of fact and opinion, impression and sentiment, found and unfound tidbits, experiences, and even rumor” (Blackshaw & Nazarro, 2006). Consumers' comments are seen as honest and transparent, but it is their subjective perception what shapes the behavior of other potential consumers. With the emergence of the Internet, tourists search for information and reviews of destinations, hotels or services. Several studies have highlighted the great influence of online reputation through reviews and ratings and how it affects purchasing decisions by others (Schuckert, Liu, & Law, 2015). These reviews are seen as unbiased and trustworthy, and considered to reduce uncertainty and perceived risks (Gretzel & Yoo, 2008; Park & Nicolau, 2015). Before choosing a destination, tourists are likely to spend a significant amount of time searching for information including reviews of other tourists posted on the Internet. The average traveler browses 38 websites prior to purchasing vacation packages (Schaal, 2013), which may include tourism forums, online reviews in booking sites and other generic social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter.