How to use reviews when you start booking travel again
Flight suspensions, border closures, social distancing.
The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the travel industry is unprecedented and has turned the entire sector into one of the largest corona casualties. Job losses might reach more than 100 million, passenger revenue for airlines will see more than 50% drop.
It’s easy to see why the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has concluded that: “Never before in history has international travel been restricted in such an extreme manner.”
Before the pandemic hit the world, the average star rating on Trustpilot for the ‘Travel & Vacation’ category was a rating of 4.3 out of 5. Today, that number has dropped to 2.8. No other sector has seen a similar drop. In fact, some industries have actually gone up.
Things are not normal
It’s not just the industry that is feeling the impact, so are all of us travellers. With 100% of global destinations having Covid-19 travel restrictions in place most of us won’t be travelling the way we thought we would this summer - if at all.
Many of us have been left feeling frustrated about the situation. For good reason. Try to get your money back from a cancelled flight or package holiday and you’ll find it might not be an easy task.
As travel businesses are no longer able to offer great holiday experiences they have effectively turned into cancellation businesses trying to rebook and refund millions of customers rescheduling their travel plans.
Read reviews on an open review platform
With travel bans slowly being lifted in some countries, consumers are beginning to look into their next holiday destination. Where to go, who to book with.
When looking at reviews in the travel sector, it can be useful to take the unprecedented situation into consideration. Though the reviews are genuine the situation is far from normal. Many businesses are doing the right thing but will nevertheless feel the impact of an abnormal world. While others are clearly not living up to their promise.
However, on an open review platform like Trustpilot, where businesses are not allowed to censor or pre-moderate the content, you’re able to get the full picture. Amid the chaos, the unprecedented issues and changing landscape, we allow public sentiment to be published.
On closed review sites, where companies can decide who can leave a review, without consumers being free to leave their reviews at any time, you’ll find travel businesses who haven’t had any new reviews for months and are still promoting the same score as prior to the pandemic. That doesn’t seem to reflect the realities. 'Invitation only' reviews platforms are stifling public opinion and shows why you should look for open review platforms where you can see both the good, the bad and the ugly.
At Trustpilot, we firmly believe that consumers should always share their experience openly, the good and the bad, but we also appreciate that the pandemic means that many travel businesses are struggling and might be doing all they can in the most difficult circumstances beyond their control. Something worth taking into consideration when reading reviews.
What to look for in reviews
Here are three key things to take into consideration when looking at reviews in the travel industry in the middle of a pandemic:
- Is the company responding to reviews and if so, how? How a company responds to feedback says a lot about them. Are they engaging openly? Are they truly listening to feedback trying to improve? It’s also worth noting that a company that hasn’t claimed their Trustpilot profile page they might not be aware of it. At the top of each company profile page, you’ll find information that shows if a company page is claimed or not.
- What are the positive and negative reviews actually saying? What are other people saying about the company? Look for the information you find the most relevant for you to ensure that the company’s services matches your needs. Be aware if you are judging a company’s entire business based on its ability to provide refunds during a pandemic. It might not be as relevant to you.
- Unusual patterns can occur.
During a pandemic you might be seeing things you wouldn’t normally see. For instance, some companies might have moved from inviting all of their customers to leave a review automatically after their trip to inviting people on a manual basis after their refund or reschedule. This might be a logical step when customers are no longer booking new trips or taking the trips they previously booked. As long as this is done in a fair and unbiased manner that is within our guidelines. But it can lead to a high volume of new reviews within a short period. On the activity page, you can find all the details on how a company is using our platform. Both when it comes to flagging reviews and how they’re inviting.
As you resume booking travel and exercise more caution than usual when selecting what travel companies to trust with your money and safety, it’s important to share your experience with other consumers and to let businesses know how they can improve by leaving a review on Trustpilot.