The only people that should be allowed to review a site are people who’ve purchased the product. You can only review a hotel if you’ve stayed at the hotel; only review the airline if you’ve bought a trip, and so on. It’s not rocket science and I certainly didn’t think of the concept. My contribution is to push to make this more of a reality.
My point is very few sites build around this ‘verified purchaser’ concept and that’s a mistake. More needs to be done.
Secondly, this concept goes beyond travel purchases and can be applied to any ecommerce site and their respective customers. I’d like to see more that happening as well.
I suggest there should be a general reviews section where anybody can review a company and a section for ‘verified purchasers’ to submit their reviews. Akin to what Amazon does. Let the reader get both points of view. I suspect the verified purchaser section will get more credibility and traffic but I don’t have access to enough evidence to back this up. If somebody has anonymous usage data they’d like to send me, please be in touch.
I can only go by what I, as a consumer, would want. At worst verified purchase reviews will cut down on disgruntled employees and reviews from competitors. Can you imagine the competition staying at your hotel or buying a ticket and submitting a bogus review, the bad PR alone would discourage people from doing it.
Only when this ‘verified purchaser’ concept is applied will the power of reviews truly shine through.
So where do we get this information? The only people who know whether a purchase has been made are the consumer, the travel agent and the underlying supplier to the travel supplier (the hotel, airline, rental car agency, etc. being reviewed).
The newest member to this group would be 3rd party trip sites that allow you to email your purchases to them and they’ll convert it to a format you can share with your friends and travelers at large.
These 3rd party travel sharing sites are especially poised to take advantage of verified reviews because they’ve already got a system to convert hundreds of purchase confirmation e-mails into a format that can be leveraged for reviews. They’ll know John Smith reviewing Singapore Airlines and Hyatt Hotels did in fact stay at a Hyatt and fly Singapore and therefore his review has legitimacy.
The system isn’t fool proof but it’s a giant step closer. These 3rd party sites can open these reviews up via an API and I suggest can earn revenue from them as well. Additional steps can be implemented to authenticate the data especially if there is some information sharing between the travel supplier and the 3rd party site (not going to happen anytime soon).
I look forward to reading the reviews on this. Sorry, couldn’t resist that last one.