Travel Opinions – Key Influences on Tourist Decision Making

As I sit in the lounge of the backpackers meeting up with travel companions, I am thinking that maybe I should have done things differently. Let’s head back to last night, where I was searching through several brochures and deciding on the next day’s activities. The brochure had photos of beautiful vistas and described the tour as natural and exciting. I was finding this hard to envisage as I looked through the photos on my digital camera of the towns and continual souvenir shops we had visited, without enough time given to enjoy the sights before being hoarded onto the bus with a group of unlike minded people.

My friends, however, had the time of their life. They are babbling to all who will listen about the day they had, swimming with dolphins and taking a harbour cruise, the sights, the excitement. I can’t help but be a little jealous….may even put a little more chilli than needed in their food to quiet them down a little. I have saved a lot of money for this trip and it’s taken me a long time to get here, so it is important for me to make the right decisions and enjoy myself the best I can. If we rewind to last night and the plans we were making, the only difference is that my friends used a well respected travel review site which provided honest and independent opinions about various activities and attractions, as well as accommodation. After having several options planned, they found that one particular activity had consistently great reviews and decided to go with them. Next time, I will do the same.

This is becoming an increasingly familiar scenario in the process of tourists and holidaymakers making their decisions about what activities and attractions to visit, as well as accommodation choices. Those in the tourism industry are realising that holidaymakers and business travellers are going online in increasing numbers in search of information and advice that can be used in the selection of travelling options, as well as reducing the consumer decision set for activities, attractions and accommodation. With this knowledge in hand, the growth of internet based travel opinion and review sites devoted to the discussion and evaluation of travel and tourism offerings has become evident. Adding to this emerging trend is the remarkable credibility associated with web travel reviews by potential guests and customers.

Findings from the Regional Visitor Monitor confirms that New Zealand travellers are increasingly using the internet to not only book tourism related products, but to find consumer and industry reviews and opinions to assist them in the decision making process. Additionally, a key finding in research conducted by Lincoln University investigating the decision making of international tourists while travelling in New Zealand, suggested that social networks are to play a vital role in tourism marketing. The report emphasised that there are many decisions which remain open, such as choice of activities and daily purchasing decisions, which may be heavily influenced through their use of social media and internet sites that contain and promote New Zealand travel opinions and reviews.

Tomorrow, the travelling friends have decided to take a trip together. No surprise that it is based on the suggestions and opinions from a reputable tourism review site, is it?

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