Expedia’s latest research finds we are now basing our holiday destinations and bookings on ‘stars and ratings’, as opposed to just looking to book a trip with a well-known brand.

It’s great news for independent travel companies, enabling these smaller businesses to leverage reviews to capture customers looking for recommendations. It also gives them a fighting chance to compete against the big players which traditionally draw in more customers, purely because of their size and presence in the market.

But reviews, for some brands, can cause some serious problems, given they are so public. In particular, there is nothing to stop someone posting a negative review that isn’t necessarily accurate. Furthermore, this ‘reviews culture’ is spawning a fake reviews phenomenon and some travel booking brands are facing heavy backlash from media over counterfeit posts in order to boost ratings.

Our report - The Values Shield:  Protecting Your Business from Crisis – revealed that over three-quarters of UK consumers would consider ditching a product or service from a brand that handled an issue in a way that conflicted with their values. Therefore, taking a proactive approach to combatting fake reviews offers the opportunity of differentiation, transparency and trust, greater brand strength and increased awareness.

Smart future-proofing by mapping out crisis/issue planning will boost travel brands chances of surviving, and ideally even thriving, when a challenging communications event like this hits. Given the travel sector often faces an onslaught of consumer backlash, it’s only a matter of time.

Download the full report here.