Hostel managers faq

How can I get my hostel listed on hostelcritic.com?

Email us with your hostel's details, including the hostel's name, address, telephone number and details of prices and reception hours. We will then post these details on hostelcritic.com and we will conduct a more indepth review when we are next in your area.

Can you list my hotel, motel, hostal or resort on hostelcritic.com?

We only list and review hostels – no hotels, B&Bs, hostals, pensiones, apartments or resorts – just hostels!

To qualify as a hostel you must offer accommodation for independent travellers in shared dormitory-style rooms. We do not list places that cater only to groups or places where you have to book the entire room.

We have details about every hostel in each destination covered by our guide and will never lose our focus on backpackers by reviewing other types of accommodation.

Does it cost me anything to have my hostel listed and reviewed?

No, this is a free service.

Can I advertise on hostelcritic.com?

The integrity of our hostel reviews is extremely important to us. In order to retain the honesty and integrity of our hostel reviews we prohibit hostels from advertising on hostelcritic.com or any of the BUG websites.

How often do you update your reviews?

All hostel reviews, written by a representative from hostelcritic.com, are revisited and updated around every 2–4 years. In years when we don't visit a hostel we will update details to ensure that prices and contact information are correct.

We are working on expanding our hostel review programme to include editors' reviews for more hostels in Europe and North America.

What can I do if my information is incorrect?

If opening hours, prices or phone numbers are incorrect or have changed you may email us and we will update the information on your review. However we cannot make changes to the body of the review until we next vist your hostel.

Can I link to you from my website?

You may link to any page of hostelcritic.com or any page of any of the BUG websites.

If your hostel has an editors' rating of three stars or higher (or a travellers' rating for 3½ stars or higher) you can use one of the following graphics on your website along with a link to your hostel's page on hostelcritic.com:

How can I offer online booking for my hostel?

Many hostels which we review offer online bookings through Hostelbookers. We will link to the booking page of your hostel if you offer this service. Online booking is a low cost way to boost your occupancy level and is well worth considering, particularly if you have empty beds. Check the following link for more information: www.hostelbookers.com/join/

Some travellers have written bad things about my hostel. Can you remove this from the website?

We publish independent travel advice and are not a free advertising service for hostels. So in most cases we will not remove any bad reviews although there are several cases noted below when we may do this. Running a good hostel is the best way to ensure to ensure that travellers using hostelcritic.com post good reviews.

Just as a hostel provides a common room where backpackers can talk among themselves about other hostels, we also provide a forum for travellers to air their views about hostels. It would be unreasonable for a hostel owner to step in control the conversation between backpackers in their hostel, it would be equally unreasonable for us to remove anything that is not complimentary to a hostel. We exist to help backpackers make an informed opinion about a place, to do this we need to provide all possible opinions about a place. We publish independent information about backpackers accommodation – we are not a tourist brochure that exists to promote tourism or an advertising supported publication that only writes nice things.

The reviews posted by other travellers can be brutally honest and many hostel owners sometimes get upset about this and demand the reviews to be removed.

Some hostel owners have an opinion that they have the best hostel in town and are shocked to find that not everyone shares this opinion. If this is the case perhaps you should take advice from the reviews and make improvements to your hostel. You'll find that more positive reviews are added that reflect these changes.

Many hostel owners are concerned that someone from another hostel may add an uncomplimentary review about a competing hostel. This happens less often than most hostel managers would expect and we are vigilent about reducing the instances that this occurs. We do not tolerate fraudulent reviews and have a very good process in place to detect reviews submitted by hostel staff. We take necessary action to ensure that hostel owners do not continue to post fraudulent reviews (including reporting to authorities if you are based in a country where posting fraudulent reviews is illegal).

If you think someone from another hostel has written a review about your hostel (or about their own hostel), let us know the name (and any known email addresses or social media profiles) of the person from the hostel that you suspect to have posted the review. We will then investigate this and we will delete the offending review if we find the review in question to be fraudulent. In many cases when a hostel manager suspects another hostel owner to have posted the review, it turns out to have been posted by a genuine backpacker.

Although you can't write a review about your own hostel, you can, however, add a reply to a review to share your side of the story and clear up any misunderstanding or inaccuracies about the review in question. To post a reponse to a review, simply email us at tim@hostelcritic.com along details about the review and the text of your reply.

There are several other cases when we may edit or delete a review (in most cases we will edit, rather than delete, a review). These are:

  • If the review contains exceptionally foul language (it has to be really bad to be edited).
  • If the review is a personal attack on hostel staff rather than the hostel itself AND the review is not relevant to travellers.
  • If the review makes accusations about criminal activity that has not yet been proven by the courts.
  • If the review reveals personal information that violates the right to privacy of hostel management, staff or other guests.
  • If the review is mistakenly posted about a different hostel.
  • If the person writing the review asks us to remove it.
  • If the review incites violence or racial hatred.
  • If the review is in no way related to the hostel (ie. if someone posts random characters, political propaganda or something else such as an ad for Viagra or some sort of 'get rich quick' scheme).

We may also edit or delete a review if we have legal advice to do so.

If you believe that a review of your hostel matches one of the above criteria feel free to email us and we will consider editing or removing it.

It is important that travellers have the opportunity to inform other travellers about their experience staying in hostels. Rather than delete a review, we will usually edit it to comply with our guidelines, as long as editing the review does not alter the substance of the original review.

What can I do to ensure that I get good reviews?

Running a great hostel is the best way to get good reviews. Basic things that all hostels should do include:

  • Cleaning daily (large hostels may need to be cleaned several times per day).
  • Continually keeping everything well maintained.
  • Being polite and courteous to all guests.
  • Having a toilet/shower to guest ratio of 1:10 or better.
  • Taking steps to keep pests (spiders, cockroaches, bed bugs) out of the hostel.
  • If you have carpet, have it steam cleaned every year and replaced every five years.
  • Re-grout tiles every couple of years.
  • Replace mattresses at least every five years, replace every two years if they are foam mattresses, replace pillows annually.
  • Buy new linen and duvets and replace them regularly.
  • Few things look worse than old ratty furnishings. Buy new furniture unless you're trying to create an old world charm in which case you should keep everything well maintained and re-upholster anything before it has a chance to fall apart.
  • Have reasonable reception hours and don't have a curfew or lockout.
  • It is good to encourage social interaction and a party atmosphere but don't force it on your guests. If you have a noisy bar or common room try to keep the sound away from the dorms.
  • Don't pipe music through the whole building, not everyone has your taste in music.
  • Don't force people to buy tours from you. Remember that backpackers are independent travellers not tourists.
  • Make sure that your place is secure. A locker for each bed is a great idea. All guests should have a key to their room.
  • Never charge more than your advertised price. Hostels that advertise prices "from $XX" (without quoting the maximum price), who advertise a price exclusive of tax (without mentioning how much the tax is) or who advertise a members-only price (without also quoting the non-member's price) are deceiving their customers and are just plain dishonest. Taxes should be included in the total price just like any other business expense. If you swindle and rip off your customers with deceptive advertising you deserve all the bad reviews you get!
  • Respect your guests. Don't treat them like children.

It isn't possible to please everyone and you may still get the odd bad review but you will also get lots of good reviews if you follow the above suggestions. Backpackers are smart enough to read between the lines and dismiss the odd bad review, particularly if there are also plenty of good reviews about a hostel. Also every backpacker has their own priorities and what one traveller loves about your hostel may not be a positive aspect for another. By reading different opinions about a place, travellers can make an informed decision and choose a place that appeals to them. In this case your hostel will attract the type of person that likes your style of place and who subsequently writes more good reviews.

Is there anything else I can do to improve my hostel's listing?

Although running a great hostel is the best way to get great reviews, your hostel's page on hostelcritic.com is more than just reviews. We also have contact details, photos, links to your social media profiles and both Google Street View and Google Google Business Photos (interior Street View).

Make sure we have complete contact details

We list your complete contact details including your address, closest public transport, phone number, website, email address and Skype contact details. Let us know if we are missing some of these details.

Make sure that we have links to all your social media profiles

We will link to any of your social media profiles, and that's not just limited to the major networks like Facebook, Google+ and Twitter; but also to smaller networks such as Hyves, Orkut, VK and MySpace (remember them). If we don't include links to all your social media profiles, email us and we will update this for you.

Make sure people can book your hostel

You could have the best reviews in town, but there's a good chance travellers will stay elsewhere if they can't book it online. We work with Hostelbookers so if you can be booked through Hostelbookers, you can also be booked through hostelcritic.com. If you work with Hostelbookers but don't have a booking link on our site, tell us and we will update these details. If you don't work with Hostelbookers, you can sign up here: www.hostelbookers.com/join/

Make sure we have great photos of your hostel

Hostel listings on hostelcritic.com include an image gallery, but we can't show this if we don't have any photos of your hostel. We take photos when one of our representatives visit your hostel to assess a rating and write a review and travellers can also upload photos when they post a review; however, hostel owners can also supply their own photos. Our photo gallery has nice big photos in landscape format so your hostel's listing will look best if you supply photos that are at least 970 pixels wide x 500 pixels high. Email any photos to us at tim@hostelcritic.com.

Make sure that your map is accurate

If your position on the map on your hostel's page is not accurate. Let us know and we will fix it.

Make sure we have Google Street View and Google Business Photos (interior Street View) for your hostel

Whereever possible, we will include both Google Street View and Google Business Photos (interior Street View).

If there is no Google Street View for your hostel, let us know and we will include it (assuming your street has been visited by the Google Street View camera of course). Please note that a Google Street View image is not a replacement for photos of your hostel and the major reason for including Street View images is to show travellers what the neighbourhood around your hostel is like, so it is important to include this even if the image is out of date and shows a building site where your hostel should be.

Probably the best thing you can do is to get your business included in Google Business Photos (which is essentially an interior version of Google Street View). This is a great resource for travellers as it allows them to walk through your hostel in exactly the same way as walking through a Google Street View image. It is great for your business too, as not only does it improve your hostel's listing on hostelcritic.com, but the Google Business Photos image can be embedded in your own website and will also show up in Google search results and on your Google+ profile. You can read more about including your hostel in the Google Business Photos programme here: http://www.google.com/help/maps/businessphotos/get-started.html

Can I put a "Recommended by hostelcritic.com" badge on my website?

You may put a "Recommended by hostelcritic.com" badge on your website with a link to your hostel's page on hostelcritic.com as long as we have assessed your hostel and given you a star rating of three stars or higher. If we haven't yet visited your hostel you may put a "Recommended by hostelcritic.com" badge on your site as long as you have an average traveller rating of 3½ stars or higher. You may use one of the following graphics for this purpose:

 

If you have scored lower than three stars for your hostelcritic.com editors' rating you may put a "Reviewed by hostelcritic.com" badge on your site instead. You may also put a "Reviewed by hostelcritic.com" badge on your site if your hostel has not been reviewed by a representative from hostelcritic.com and your average traveller rating is less than 3½ stars. You may use one of the following graphics for this purpose:

 

Can I get a "Recommended by hostelcritic.com" window sticker to place near my hostel's front door?

 

If we have assessed your hostel and given you a star rating of three stars or higher you may contact us at tim@hostelcritic.com and ask us to send you a "Recommended by hostelcritic.com" window sticker. If we haven't yet visited your hostel, but you have an average traveller rating of 3½ stars or higher you may also contact us to ask for a "Recommended by hostelcritic.com" window sticker.

There are some reviews about my hostel that were written years ago. Can you remove them?

No. We used to have a policy of removing reviews that were several years old. At the time we believed that this kept everything more up-to-date, however we now keep all reviews as many travellers like to see how a hostel has changed over time.

Removing old reviews made sense when we were the only review website, however now there are a lot of copycat sites and several of them now claim to have many more reviews than us, even though they are much newer sites. In this competitive environment, deleting any reviews puts us at a disadvantage.

However we understand that you may be concerned that old reviews may influence your hostel's rating on hostelcritic.com even though your services may have improved since the reviews were originally written. We have asked our programmer to modify our software to give greater weight to newer reviews (and less weight to old reviews) when calculating your hostel's overall rating.

Is is okay to write reviews of my own hostel?

Absolutely not! Hostel owners, managers and staff and friends of hostel staff are not permitted to write hostel reviews. This is to ensure that the reviews on hostelcritic.com are independent and unbiased. The integrity of hostelcritic.com's reviews is very important and we will not tolerate hostel managers who abuse the system.

The software that drives the hostel review system is very good at checking for fraud and this is backed up by staff that manually check the authenticity of every review. We will not allow any fradulent review to be posted on our system.

When a fradulent review is detected we will contact the hostel and tell them that these fradulent practices are not tolerated. If this sort of fraudulent activity occurs again. We will post the following message in a prominent position on your hostel's review page: "This hostel has been found trying to post fraudent reviews. Fortunately our review system is very good at detecting fradulent reviews and these reviews were not allowed on our website. However in some cases this sort of deceptive activity may indicate other not so honest business practices and all travellers are urged to take this into account when choosing their accommodation." This message will stay on the website for up to one month each time a bogus review is detected for that hostel.

We are a forum for genuine reviews from real travellers and hostelcritic.com is no place for fights between rival hostels. Other review websites may be less picky, however we value the integrity of our reviews and will seriously act on any fradulent reviews. Our goal is to have 100% of the reviews on hostelcritic.com submitted by genuine travellers.

I have just bought a hostel, closed it for renovation and reopened it under a new name; can you remove the old reviews?

No. In the past there have been hostel owners that have abused the review system by emailing us with notice of new management and a change of name with the sole intent of having their old reviews removed. If you have bought a business you are also buying its reputation and it is up to you to run the place properly to achieve positive reviews. We are fair about this and will allow you to submit a reply for each review stating that the hostel is under new management and that the review refers to the old management.

There is one instance when we will remove the old reviews. This is when the old hostel has been completely demolished and replaced with a brand new building. This will have to be witnessed by a representative from hostelcritic.com or you can provide proof in the form of photographs, council planning documentation and newspaper reports.

Can I add a reply to a review about my hostel?

Certainly. Travellers value your opinion and will take your comments on a bad review into consideration when choosing a place to stay. Rather than posting your own review you should mail us at tim@hostelcritic.com stating which review you would like the response added to along with the text of the reply. We will make sure that your reply is added under the relevant review.

I keep getting bad reviews, can you remove my hostel from your website?

No. We are a consumer advice website that needs to show the bad along with the good and our aim is to list every hostel in each destination. The only way to have your hostel removed is to close down or stop offering hostel accommodation.

In response to hostels abusing our review system and falsely claiming to have closed down in order to have their property removed from hostelcritic.com, a representative from BUG Travel Publishing Ltd will verify any hostel claiming to have closed down.

BUG Travel Publishing Ltd
Unit 1104 Crawford House, 70 Queens Road Central, Central, Hong Kong
Tel +852 8191 1965 Fax +852 3972 8288
tim@hostelcritic.com