Emarketer reported today that Internet search has surpassed word of mouth as the primary source of travel recommendations in many countries.
Though word of mouth and other sources still predominate in countries like Mexico and Russia, respondents in almost all other countries polled, including the United States, much of Europe, China, Japan and Australia all cited Internet searching over word of mouth as their preferred source for travel information.
Though travel research and booking have been established as predominant uses of the Internet for some time, this research provides insight into our relationship with the Internet medium.
The Internet's role as a companion community to our non-cyber community is demonstrated with research like this. We apparently feel comfortable in this online world and feel that having the control to gather information that we need for travel from an immense number of sources regardless of geography super cedes that coveted endorsement for marketers everywhere -- the personal reference.
The effective use of testimonials for promoting a travel business is a proven, effective sales tool - this research indicates that investment in effective search marketing is just as critical, if not more so.