GUEST ratings have become more important than brand names when people look to book a hotel room, according to Australia’s second largest travel site.
Abhijit Pal, Expedia’s head of research in lodging partner services, says the online travel agency conducted a 903-person study in the US to determine what the most important factor for travellers.
Unsurprisingly, price was most important, but guest ratings came next, with a hotel’s brand name a distant third.
Travellers were willing to pay 24 per cent more to stay at a hotel with a 3.9 rating, compared to a 3.4.
And they’d pay 35 per cent more to stay at a hotel with a 4.4 rating, compared to a 3.9.
“What it tells me is that an independent property can absolutely compete with a premium brand by focusing on guest ratings and quality,” Mr Pal told AAP while visiting Australia from California.
Mr Pal said Expedia was seeing a rise in secondary destinations in Australia by international travellers, with Adelaide, Alice Springs, Darwin, Townsville, and Port Douglas the fastest-growing destinations.
“It’s important to understand how these travellers are contributing to the local economy and local businesses,” he said.
Expedia – which describes itself as the No.2 full-service travel agent in Australia behind Booking.com. – owns Travelocity, Orbitz, Homeaway, Trivago, VRBO, Stayyz Australia, Wotif and New Zealand’s Bookabach.
Mr Pal said Expedia admired the success of Airbnb in normalising the homeshare industry, in which Expedia is investing heavily through its HomeAway division.