Electronic word of mouth became a very important way of advertising during the last couple of years. In contrast to commercial advertisements, do consumers in general give a more trustworthy opinion as they do not need to convince the reader to book a certain trip (Moran et al., 2014). According to expert Mr. Buhalis (2014) people often first check written recommendations on websites like Tripadvisor before booking a certain holiday. Tripadvisor is used by 77% of the individuals that go on a holiday, whereby they either look beforehand which cruise has good recommendations or after making a decision they check this website to see if they are actually also making the right decision (Prabu, 2014). 93% of the people that looked at online reviews said that those reviews had an impact on their booking decision which is an extremely large amount (Gonzalo, 2013). Trip advisor is mainly focussing on accommodation, activities and restaurants, therefore the company acquired the website Cruise Critic in 2007. This website is the leader of all cruise reviews and information sites with over 30.000 reviews about more than 90 cruise lines and almost 500 ships (Cruise Critic, 2016).
Travellers nowadays are more informed about their booking than ever before. As many travellers become active on social media and other digital channels they can tell anything that they want to the followers. Often they talk about the service of the company, the quality/price value and about the hygiene (Fisk, 2006). Even though companies prefer to have positive comments, it is still about what they do with it. Negative comments do not always mean harmful publicity.
Customers attach value to the fact if they are heard, so it is important for the cruise liners to understand and listen to customers about how they experienced their cruise holiday (Straker et al., 2016). Studies revealed that when a company replies on a recommendation about their experience with the cruise line that this has a positive influence on the decision making progress of a traveller. Statistics show that 87% of the travellers say that a response of the management on a bad review leads to a better impression on that specific company (Prabu, 2014).
Figure 1. Moran, et al. (2014) Consumer Decision-Making Journey in a Digital World.
The sharing of experiences online by customers is a very important element of the decision making process as this is the start/zero moment of truth for connecting with a new customers (see figure 1). Websites like consumer forums, discussion boards and rating pages recruit new customers as they trust their peers’ recommendations. Therefor electronic word of mouth is nowadays the central instrument for every marketer (Moran, et al., 2014).
Buhalis D. (2014) Critical Technology and Marketing developments – eTourism futures. Retrieved on September 20, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mrha2nS76Hc
Cruise Critic (2016) The ultimate online cruise resource. Cruise Critic. Retrieved on September 22, 2016 from http://www.cruisecritic.com/about-us/
Fisk, P. (2006). Marketing genius. North Mankato, MN: Capstone’
Gonzalo, F. (2013) Online Resource Key to Travel Decision-making. Social Media Today. Retrieved on September 21, 2016 from http://www.socialmediatoday.com/content/online-resources-key-travel-decision-making
Moran, G., Muzellec, L., & Nolan, E. (2014). Consumer moments of truth in the digital context. Journal of Advertising Research, 54(2), 200-204.
Peelen, E. & Beltman, R. (2013). Customer Relationship Management. Harlow, England: Pearson.
Prabu, K. (2014). Vast majority of Tripadvisor users read at least 6-12 reviews before choosing hotel. Tnooz. Retrieved on September 21, 2016 from https://www.tnooz.com/article/tripadvisor-online-review-insights-phocuswright-study/
Straker, K., & Wrigley, C. (2016). Designing an emotional strategy: Strengthening digital channel engagements. Business Horizons, 59(3), 339-346.