For travel and tourism companies, credibility is a prerequisite for making sales. When it comes to online marketing, establishing credibility on a website shapes brand perception and directly impacts the percentage of website visitors that convert to sales.

When Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab conducted research on website credibility, they interviewed website visitors and rated their comments as follows :

1. Design Look – 46.1%
2. Information Design/Structure – 28.5%
3. Information Focus – 25.1%
4. Company Motive – 15.5%
5. Information Usefulness – 14.8%
6. Information Accuracy – 14.3%
7. Name Recognition and Reputation – 14.1%
8. Advertising – 13.8%
9. Information Bias – 11.6%
10. Writing Tone – 9.0%
11. Identity of Site Operator – 8.8%
12. Site Functionality – 8.6%
13. Customer Service – 6.4%
14. Past Experience with Site – 4.6%
15. Information Clarity – 3.7%
16. Performance on Test by User – 3.6%
17. Readability – 3.6%
18. Affiliations – 3.4%

The researchers also broke out the results specifically for travel websites and found the top results of design, information design/structure and information focus were even more important relative to the other factors:

1. Design Look – 50.5%
2. Information Design/Structure – 31.8%
3. Information Focus – 28.5%

This report points out just how important design, site structure and a clear focus are. While this data may seem obvious, many travel companies overlook these basics. It is interesting to note that name recognition and reputation, while important, isn’t at the top of a travelers mind. A website that is well-designed can put a smaller travel company on the same level as much larger players.

For more on website credibility look at the slide show put together by BJ Fogg, Ph.D. at Stanford University.

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