Best Hotel Review Sites for Independent Hotels

There are many ways that hotel owners can get their properties noticed. Most of them involve the various aspects of marketing. 

Reviews of your hotels fall into this publicity category as well. While you might not be able to directly influence what your guests say about your hotel in a public forum, you can always provide the best possible experience for them. That makes them saying nice things about your properties on hotel review sites more likely.

In this article, we’ll talk about the best hotel review sites for independent hotels. We’ll cover why hotel review sites matter for independent hotels in particular, mention some review sites you should know about, and we’ll conclude by breaking down the benefits of having reviews and being present on review sites.

What is Meant By a Hotel Review Site?

A hotel review site means any online platform or website that gives its users the chance to share their views about a hotel stay. There are different kinds of hotel review sites. 

When someone uses that term, they might be talking about a social media platform like Instagram or Facebook. They may be referring to a travel platform like TripAdvisor. They might also be talking about a business directory like Google or an OTA like Booking.com. 

Why Do Hotel Reviews Matter?

Hotel reviews matter for the same reasons why reviews matter for any business. It’s feedback that’s being given by your former customers or clients in a public forum. 

The general feeling about reviews is that they are unbiased opinions from like-minded consumers about a service or product. As such, someone who’s thinking about buying that product or utilizing that service will place value on them. 

It’s one thing to craft a marketing campaign that talks about how great your hotel is. It’s another to have a former guest rave about the amazing time they had while visiting your property.

Why Do Hotel Reviews Matter for Independent Hotels in Particular?

Back in 2018, the Go Group LLC found in a survey that more than three quarters of individuals who were intending to travel used sites like TripAdvisor or Yelp. It’s not uncommon for anyone considering a product or service to look for reviews before they commit, but it’s even more likely with those looking to travel and find accommodations.

While the point could be made that reviews matter for hotels of any size or type, they’re likely even more critical for independent hotels. That’s because independent hotels may not garner as many reviews as enormous chains with many locations. A single boutique hotel probably does not do the same amount of business that an entity like Best Western does. Because of this, it makes sense that a single negative review can do a lot more to damage a smaller, independent hotel’s reputation. 

By contrast, a few well-placed excellent reviews can do a great deal to drive more business toward an independent hotel. With this in mind, hotel owners should be all the more eager to deliver a top-quality experience to their guests. The review such a guest might give can be every bit as valuable as the money they spent while at your hotel.

Now, let’s run through some hotel review sites that you should know about.

The Most Well-Known Hotel Review Sites

Focusing on the best-known hotel review sites makes sense for independent hotels that are trying to get noticed. That probably means starting with Google Reviews. 

1. Google Reviews

Google is the world’s largest and most successful search engine. Since it has a monopoly on search engines, it would be a mistake to ignore it as a hotel owner. 

The majority of travelers Google various aspects of their trip before they take it. Even if they didn’t necessarily come to Google to get feedback about what it might be like to stay at a particular hotel, it makes sense they would peruse some of the reviews that are readily available. 

One thing you should definitely do as a hotel owner, whether you own an independent hotel or otherwise, is to claim your Google Business Profile. You should also add your business to Google Maps. 

2. TripAdvisor

Next up is TripAdvisor, a powerhouse in the hotel industry due to its popularity. It is a travel research company. Its purpose is to help individuals plan and book their trips. 

A traveler might use the site to research and book a hotel, not to mention look at restaurants, attractions, and transportation in the area. Because so many people visit it every day, it’s another site that it makes sense to pay attention to as a hotel owner. 

3. Yelp

Yelp is another very popular website. It functions mainly by encouraging crowdfunded reviews of hotels, and also restaurants and other entities. 

Yelp is another site that hotel owners should know about because of the number of individuals who visit it every day. If someone is considering staying at your hotel, it is highly likely they’ll stop by to see what the reviews are like.

4. Booking.com

Booking.com is another website that has risen to prominence when it comes to finding, booking, and also reviewing hotels. Booking.com is set up to serve both the travelers who are looking for accommodations and the entrepreneurs who are offering hotel stays and other services.

Like the others on this list, Booking.com is simply too large for you to ignore. Like the others we’ve mentioned so far, it’s vital to monitor how your reviews are looking on this website. 

5. Expedia

Expedia rounds out our list of the most popular and largest hotel review sites. Expedia has hotel reviews, and they’re also a place where a would-be traveler might go if they intend to bundle a hotel stay with a flight and a car rental at the same time. 

Because of its prominence and the number of people who visit, Expedia is another site that you should keep an eye on where your hotel’s reviews are concerned. 

6. Luxury Hotel Review Sites

If you run an independent hotel, it also makes sense that you should be mindful of reviews on luxury hotel sites. This is appropriate if you’re trying to attract more well-heeled guests. Affluent travelers are likely to visit sites like:

  • Jetsetter
  • Conde Nast Traveler
  • Forbes Travel Guide
  • Travel + Leisure 

Of course, if you have an independent hotel that is not so much geared toward wealthier guests, you won’t have to be quite as preoccupied with your reviews on these sites. 

7. Business Hotel Travel Sites

If you own an independent hotel that tries to cater to business travelers, some sites you should be mindful of include:

  • The Corporate Dime
  • Corporate Traveler
  • Business Travel News

While these ones may not see as many daily visitors as Booking.com or Expedia, if you want to zero in on the business traveler market, you should monitor how your hotel is reviewed on these sites. 

8. Budget Hotel Review Websites

If you run an independent hotel that is more for the budget-minded individual, you should know about sites like:

  • The Broke Backpacker
  • Nomadic Matt
  • HostelBookers
  • Hostelworld

Much like the ones on the list intended for business travelers, these ones don’t have the notoriety of the larger sites like Yelp or TripAdvisor. However, if you’re trying to become better known to travelers looking for cheap lodgings, these should certainly be on your radar. 

Now, let’s go over some benefits of having reviews and being present on review sites for the independent hotel owner. 

Hotel Review Sites Are Where You Demonstrate How You React to Guest Reviews

There are many examples of business owners reacting badly to negative online feedback. It might be tempting to respond with vitriol if a guest badmouths you online. However, if you respond to these situations in a measured and deliberate way, it can actually be to your benefit.

A negative review is your chance to act tactfully. If you can handle the situation the right way, it demonstrates to potential customers that you’re reasonable and value their business.

To do this, you should follow these rules. Have only a single person or perhaps a few people who are in charge of responding to negative online feedback. Make sure you give someone this responsibility who knows how to placate an angry guest. 

The person or persons who you put in charge of this task should respond to any feedback quickly, whether positive or negative. They should make it clear that they appreciate all feedback, both the negative and positive. 

In some situations, they can also suggest recompense to a guest who had a bad experience at your hotel. However, if they ever feel that is appropriate, they should take the conversation offline. Such interactions are best handled out of the public eye. 

Online Reviews Stir Up Excitement in Would-Be Guests

Positive online reviews are helpful for independent hotels because they showcase to a possible guest what someone who has actually stayed at your hotel thought about their time there. While various other kinds of marketing and advertising are helpful, it’s hard to duplicate the value of a former guest saying they loved spending time at your property.

If they say something like a particular employee went above and beyond to make their stay more pleasant, that’s exactly the kind of feedback you want. It’s always a good idea to encourage your staff to be as accommodating as possible to facilitate more of these kinds of reviews. Guests remember this kind of treatment, and they might very well mention it on one of the sites we’ve been talking about.

People Trust Hotel Travel Sites

It’s also worth mentioning that people often trust hotel review sites. A would-be traveler who sees feedback from former customers about your hotel on a website they visit often will probably be willing to book with you with a lot more confidence. 

By contrast, if there’s no mention of your hotel on a prominent hotel review site, or if there are only negative reviews, it’s easy to imagine why a possible guest would want to avoid your hotel and go with a competitor.

Online Reviews Let You Compete with Bigger Brands

As a smaller hotel, it’s sometimes tough to compete with the more established and bigger brands. Hotel reviews are a way you can do it, though. 

Would-be travelers are looking to individuals who stayed at your hotel to tell them what it was like. If your relatively small hotel has a solid industry reputation backed up by many glowing reviews, it makes it a lot easier for a traveler to commit to staying with you. Competing with larger hotel chains becomes much more difficult if you don’t have the credibility or legitimacy that those reviews afford you. 

A possible guest might feel like a better-known brand can provide them with a consistent or high-quality experience. However, such a brand might be more expensive as well. 

You can potentially counter that with a more budget-minded option if that’s your business model. However, that only becomes a possibility if you have many positive hotel reviews on various websites. 

What Can You Do to Ensure the Best Reviews for Your Independent Hotel?

Now that you know why hotel review websites matter for your independent hotel, you should be aware of strategies for getting the best reviews possible. You can partner with various hotel review sites. Make sure you get your hotel listed there.

You should have an automated way of encouraging every guest who stayed at your hotel to post online reviews. Sending out an email following their stay is an effective way of doing that. 

As an independent hotel owner, it is incumbent upon you to target various hotel sites and try to encourage your guests to leave feedback. Make sure you remain focused on the websites that make the most sense according to your unique business model and the kinds of customers on which you focus. 

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