One of the most vexing challenges for the marketers of travel services is that of addressing a fundamental dilemma in contemporary marketing practice: it has become more difficult to influence prospective customers as it has become easier to reach them, says Peter Yesawich, head of the Ypartnership. Personal recommendations have the most credibility while social media have the least, a new analysis reports.
“The question of source credibility is therefore one of great interest to marketers of travel services, particularly as it relates to the degree of influence consumers ascribe to the kaleidoscope of information now available on destinations and/or specific travel service suppliers,” Yesawich says. “And given the explosive growth in the number of sources from which consumers can now sample commentary, it’s important to understand they ascribe far greater confidence to the information they receive from some sources than others.”
This "Credibility Continuum," as measured in the new Ypartnership/Harrison Group 2010 Portrait Of American Travelers, stretches from the personal testimonials of friends and family members (the most credible) to the content found on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube (the least credible).
“The hierarchy in between provides some compelling clues as to how to serve up marketing messages that deliver maximum influence,” Yesawich reports. “Word-of-mouth endorsements have been and remain the most believable endorsements for consumers (cited as credible by 81 percent of active travelers), particularly if delivered by a trusted family member or business associate, hence marketing programs that leverage this credibility typically enjoy a much higher probability of success.
“The second cluster of credible sources includes travel guidebooks such as AAA (57 percent), online travel agencies such as Expedia (54 percent) and travel advisory sites such as TripAdvisor (53 percent),” Yesawich continued. “The third tier of credible sources consists of individual company/destination websites (46 percent), traditional travel agents (46 percent) and the information found in general media coverage (43 percent). Brochures (39 percent), blogs (33 percent) and travel advertising (29 percent) represent the fourth tier of credible sources, while information found on social networking sites such as facebook and Twitter (19 percent) and YouTube (14 percent) is considered least credible.
“Given the fact that it has become increasingly difficult to influence consumers through marketing messages, these insights provide extremely valuable clues as to the mix of media sources that should be scripted into marketing communication programs to yield maximum impact,” Yesawich concluded.