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Travel reviews have a significant impact on booking decisions

The PhoCusWright Consumer Technology Survey gathers information about how U.S. online travelers are using and adopting technology when discussing, shopping for and booking travel. This Third Edition has a particular focus on social media and mobile technology, both of which continue to grow in usage and relevance. This package is comprised of the series of five articles presenting the findings from the larger research initiative.

An abstract of each of the five articles is below.

1. Despite advanced mobile devices like the iPhone making headlines almost daily, the majority of travelers are not using their phones to visit travel-related mobile Web sites or make travel reservations. Travel companies, however, would do well to pay close attention to the small but enthusiastic minority who are using their mobile devices for advanced travel-related activities. These early adopters tend to be young, arguably hip, and, most importantly, frequent travelers.

2. Travel reviews have a significant impact on booking decisions, and, for now, are cited as influential more often than any other type of social media. But not all reviews have equal sway. Their location and content have an effect on how influential they ultimately are, with reviews offered via online travel agency Web sites ranking highest. And travel companies may want to spend less time fretting over negative reviews and more time figuring out how to inspire positive ones, as travelers are more likely to be influenced by the latter.

3. The most popular methods for online travelers to share their leisure travel reviews involve two technologies that are rarely mentioned these days. When asked to cite up to three methods they prefer to use when sharing trip experiences or reviews, the largest percentage of travelers opted for spoken conversation in person or via phone, and email, whose death knell was apparently sounded too soon by some online tech prognosticators (e.g., PC Magazine). But while these more established communications methods still reign supreme, don't dismantle your blog just yet.

4. It won't be long before social media will be as common as mobile phones-and savvy travel companies have already started engaging in this space. But a newer technology seems to have lured some social network users away. Online travelers who have joined/participated in a micro-blog are also slightly more likely than non-users to have stopped using social networks.

5. Destination marketers, take note-travelers who have embraced various forms of social media and/or mobile devices are significantly more likely to use the Internet to select their leisure travel destination. Eighty-two percent of social network users selected their leisure travel destination online in the past twelve months, versus just 68% of non-users. The same pattern of online destination selection holds for micro-blog users (83%) and mobile early adopters (91%).