Trust = Belief in the integrity, ability, or character of a person or thing
‘Buyer beware’ is a symptom of information asymmetry.
Trust is a critical element in the tourism sector: from the viewpoint of the visitor: will I arrive on time, can I get to my hotel, is the restaurant open? From the viewpoint of the local who buys into the idea of tourism as the producer of income: will the visitors arrive? Will they pay or will they haggle?
The question we need to be asking is not ‘can we trust everything’ but rather what do we need to improve trust across the board for all players.
Since the development of the web in the mid 1990s there has been considerable debate whether certain online platforms provide the information needed for a fair exchange of goods and services. Most of the discussion as in this article takes the viewpoint of the visitor, but we need a more holistic approach and ask what locals need in terms of developing trust. Far too many white elephants dot the landscape where governments, industry and ngos have combined their talents to develop initiatives that lack a market.
The good news for review sites – such as TripAdvisor – lies where popular opinion connects with one’s trusted friends (or at least one’s friends on Facebook). Peer-to-peer booking sites take this a step forward and allow the rating of one’s clients or guests. Carry these advances forward and we improve trust in travel.