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JW Marriott

Expedia Group asked consumers, what's more important - price, guest ratings or brand value? The answer was not surprising. Price is by far the most important aspect in a customer's hotel selection.

In a survey of more than 900 people, Expedia Group found that hotel prices play a key role in the choosing of a hotel, and promotions and discounts tend to catch travelers' attention when selecting a property.

"While consumers want the best deal on travel bookings, their individual selections ultimately reflect their values," said Abhijit Pal, head of research, Expedia Group. "The consumer searching for a budget accommodation will look for the best value within their constraints, while someone with more disposable income may prefer a luxury option and be willing to pay more per night, but not more than they have to."

For independent hotels, this can be a fantastic opportunity, as customers are less concerned with a brand name hotel's reputation and more concerned with finding a hotel within their price range.

Guest ratings also play an important factor in hotel selection. Expedia Group found that there is a 72 percent chance a customer will place guest ratings higher than a hotel brand name.

Travelers are even willing to pay a bit higher for positive guest reviews. Participants in the study said they'd pay 24 percent more for a hotel that's rated 3.9 versus 2.4 and 35 percent more for a hotel with a 4.4 rating than one with a 3.9 rating.

"Peer, or guest, ratings have essentially leveled the playing field for independent hotels, as more potential guests seek out third-party endorsements for hotel properties they are considering," said Pal. "Independent hotels today can compete on a global scale with brands because distribution and technology enable them to compete, and quality is within their control."

While the study seems to indicate that independent hotels can compete with brand names, it did find that premium brands can influence a traveler's hotel section and that all hotel brands have a significant advantage when it comes to remodel callouts, room image and hotel ratings.

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(TravelPulse is a leading travel authority on the web, providing consumer travel news and insider tips and advice for an ever-changing travel world. Read more stories at travelpulse.com)

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