When making their travel plans, 30.8 million Germans now rely on the Internet as a source of information. Of this figure, around 7 million use travel communities as a basis for making a final decision about their journey. A further 5 million intend to rely on these virtual communities for making their travel decisions in the future. These are the findings of a special survey by the Internet Travel Marketing Federation (VIR) as part of its representative survey “RA online.”
Questions targeted exclusively at online users on the subject of travel communities reveal that it is above all the genuineness of the evaluations and entries that is of vital importance within these communities and evaluation platforms. Making a choice from many different opinions in order to form one’s own view, ranks second in importance. Especially among 45- to 55-year old Internet users, more than half regard it as extremely important for the person making the evaluation to have actually been to the location, whereas the majority of younger users (16 to 24), i.e., more than 60 percent, are quite “relaxed” about this particular criterion.
When dealing with travel community websites, women are definitely more critical than men. Of the women who were questioned, 48 percent stated that they attach major importance to the quality and authenticity of the individual evaluations. It is also evident that it is predominantly those people in lower-income groups who make use of travel communities and whose decisions are more likely to be influenced by them than is the case with middle- and upper-income groups.
Claudia Brözel, member of the Managing Committee of VIR stated: “Authenticity and a wide range of opinions are major criteria in assessing trustworthiness, especially in travel communities. Operators should, therefore, concentrate on ensuring that entries are of the required quality. VIR members’ portals have already achieved considerable success with their communities on this exciting market.”
There is no doubt about the growing importance of travel communities. Travel tips, hotel evaluations, reports by restaurant critics, travel diaries, and travel pictures taken by members all provide greater clarity, offer inspiration to other travelers, and encourage people to compare their travel experiences. “In particular the discussions about the influence and power of travel communities in tourism taking place at this year’s ITB Berlin Convention reveal the vast potential offered by such platforms,” according to Dr. Martin Buck, director of ITB Berlin. More details about the survey can be found at http://www.v-i-r.de.
Verband Internet Reisevertrieb e.V. (VIR): Mouthpiece of the tourism industry on the Internet
Verband Internet Reisevertrieb e.V. (VIR) – the Internet Travel Marketing Federation – addresses the core issues on the Internet, namely those of trust, clarity, and quality standards. This federation is the mouthpiece of the tourism industry on the Internet and the point of contact for consumers, the media, and the industry itself. Its members include seven of Germany’s leading online travel portals (ebookers.de, expedia.de, holidaycheck.de, gratistours.com, lastminute.de, opodo.de, and travel24.com), which together generate sales of around one billion euros and employ over 500 people. During the second half of 2008 alone, these Internet travel portals received an average of 3 million visits monthly. In addition to its own website at www.v-i-r.de, the VIR can also be found on Twitter, with a wealth of details about the innovation competition “Sprungbrett” (www.twitter.com/sprungbrett2010) and is also represented on YouTube, depicting some exciting moments from its own events (www.youtube.com/user/virtualVIR).
About ITB Berlin and the ITB Berlin Convention
ITB Berlin 2010 will take place from Wednesday to Sunday, March 10-14. ITB Berlin will be open to trade visitors only from Wednesday to Friday. Parallel with the trade show, the ITB Berlin Convention will be held from Wednesday to Saturday, March 10-13, 2010. This is the world’s largest specialist convention for the industry. Full details of the program can be found at www.itb-kongress.com. ITB Berlin is the world’s leading travel trade show. In 2009, a total of 11,098 companies from 187 countries exhibited their products and services to the 178,971 visitors, who included 110,857 trade visitors.
ITB Berlin and ITB Asia now on Twitter
Web 2.0 services, including blogs, social networks, and Twitter, are also gaining importance in every-day business activities, a development that has been immediately recognized by ITB Berlin and ITB Asia. Both of these events are making use of the micro-blogging service, Twitter, as a means of entering into a dialogue with journalists and exhibitors as well as the trade and of supplying them with the latest information. The world’s leading travel trade show is twittering at http://twitter.com/ITB_Berlin, while the world’s largest travel trade show for the Asia-Pacific region is covered by http://twitter.com/itbasia.