Have you ever booked a hotel or rental property without getting a recommendation? I never have. I’m known for this too. In fact, my mom and brother exploited this habit of mine last summer while on a road trip, calling me when they were an hour outside of a city to find them a hotel. I was able to quickly make three hotel recommendations based on customer images, reviews, and price. Then, I lectured them on doing research beforehand so they are never stranded and know they are going to stay in a good hotel by booking ahead of time.

Recommendations from friends and consumer reviews are how I plan trips. I text friends to learn what are the best areas in a city; I search for articles on local attractions; and I read reviews from other travelers to get a sense of a hotel. I’m not alone: millennials check 10.2 online information sources before making a purchase. Personally, I am not the type of person who is going to check 10 sources for the new pair of socks.  However, when it comes to traveling, I will. I’m going to make sure I’m staying at a place that is safe, convenient, and has great service because these things are important to me.

Today, I check at least two websites for reviews before booking (even if a friend has recommended a hotel). Why? Mainly for two reasons:

  1. I am not finding the information I want.
  2. I don’t completely trust the reviews on some travel sites.

What does this mean for travel companies like Stayz, whose business is getting people to book vacation rentals? Travel websites have an opportunity to not only draw me in with volume and trust but also close the deal.

We know that review volume correlates with conversion online. In this case, gaining more volume will eventually lead to more interest from people like me. Travelers who are looking for the same things in a place to stay – The business traveler who wants high-speed internet or the leisure traveler who wants to be in walking distance of nice restaurants.

Being able to find reviews from likeminded travelers or the information that is going to make me comfortable with booking a room is going to increase my likelihood of actually booking the room.

Trust is a powerful thing. In my role at Bazaarvoice, I hear from companies that genuinely fear getting a one or two star review. Yet, as a consumer, when I see a hotel with a five star rating and no negative comments, this immediately raises a red flag. Why? I don’t trust the content. What are you hiding? I want to see those one, two, three and four star reviews and understand the rationale behind them.

Were those unhappy guests’ just complainers who can’t be pleased or was there a real problem? Was it the breakfast buffet?  In that case, I don’t care. On the other hand, did the internet connection not work? Because then I DO care. I want to have as much information as possible before I make a decision. Positive and negative.

It’s not just me that thinks this way. Stayz recognized that authenticity and trust was huge for their customers. “We wanted to provide a transparent review process for our guests,” said Jamie Coser, Product Manager at Stayz.  Instead of allowing property owners to decide if a review should be displayed, Stayz partnered with Bazaarvoice, a third party vendor, to moderate and publish their reviews. “Our guests now have an accurate view of the property based on feedback from past visitors,” said Jamie Coser, Product Manager at Stayz. “Bazaarvoice allows us to give them this view and measure the impact.” The impact is there. In less than a year after implementing Bazaarvoice Conversations, Stayz saw a 291% lift in inquiries from visitors who interacted with reviews.

If you want to keep travelers on your site to book rooms, flights, etc., make sure you have valuable user generated content there to answer their questions. Then add in trust by making sure the customer knows that this is true feedback (good and bad) and you have the equation for success. This will certainly make my life easier the next time I book a trip!