Even though reduced demand has caused hotel properties to slash operating costs and reduce staff, hotel guest satisfaction has improved in 2009, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2009 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index StudySM released this week.
Now in its 13th year, the study measures overall hotel guest satisfaction across six hotel segments: luxury, upscale, mid-scale full service, mid-scale limited service, economy/budget and extended stay. Seven key measures are examined within each segment to determine overall satisfaction: reservations; check-in/check-out; guest room; food and beverage; hotel services; hotel facilities; and costs and fees.
Four of the six segments—upscale; mid-scale full service; mid-scale limited service; and economy/budget—have improved in satisfaction in 2009, compared with 2008. Guest satisfaction with luxury hotels has remained stable from 2008, while satisfaction with extended stay properties has deceased slightly. Across all segments, satisfaction with the reservations and check in/check out measures has improved, while satisfaction with guest rooms has declined.
“Many hotel brands have successfully focused on guest satisfaction, despite steep rate discounts, staff declines, reductions in in-room amenities and a halt on renovations,” said Michael Drago, director of the global hospitality and travel practice at J.D. Power and Associates. “These hoteliers know that providing extraordinary guest service in a consistent manner, in both good times and bad, is a recipe for continued success.”
Hotel guests in 2009 express increased desire for comfort and value-related amenities. For the first time since the inception of the study in 1997, bedding and pillow choices and free parking are among the top five “must-have” amenities for hotel guests. Other most-desired amenities include complimentary breakfast, wireless Internet access and pillow-top mattresses. Within the luxury segment, a high percentage of guests express the desire for in-room high-definition flat-panel TVs.
“Hotel guests want the comforts of home at a competitive rate,” said Drago. “They don’t want to incur fees for ‘extras’ such as parking or Internet access. Guests are much more satisfied when their total charge at check-out is in line with what they anticipated when they made their room reservation.”
The following hotel brands rank highest in guest satisfaction within their respective segments:
Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
Embassy Suites Hotels (for third consecutive year)
Mid-Scale Full Service
Hilton Garden Inn
Mid-Scale Limited Service
Drury Inn & Suites (for a fourth consecutive year)
Microtel Inns & Suites (for an eighth consecutive year)
“Microtel Inns & Suites, which ranks highest for an unprecedented eighth consecutive year, is owned by Wyndham Worldwide—a hotel group that has improved substantially from 2008,” said Drago. “InterContinental Hotels Group, which owns Staybridge Suites—the highest-ranked property in the extended stay segment—also improves considerably in 2009 from 2008. Each of these hotel groups owns a wide array of hotel brands in various segments, so their improvement is particularly impressive.”
The study finds that hotel companies that maintain brand standards consistently across their portfolio of properties have the ability to substantially increase their satisfaction and loyalty levels.
“The highest-performing hotel brands differentiate themselves by meeting customer expectations consistently, whether it’s a guest’s first stay with the brand or their fiftieth,” said Drago. “By setting and maintaining high brand standards, hotels build a reputation for reliability, which breeds customer loyalty.”
Guest awareness of property-initiated “green” programs has increased significantly in 2009, with 66 percent of guests stating that they were aware of their hotel’s conservation efforts, compared with 57 percent in 2008. Among these guests, 72 percent say they participated in their hotel’s conservation programs.
Awareness of “green” programs has a strong impact on overall hotel guest satisfaction. On average, satisfaction is more than 160 points higher among guests who report being aware of their hotel’s green programs, compared with guests who are unaware of them.
The proportion of hotel guests making reservations online has decreased slightly in 2009, to 54 percent from 57 percent in 2008.
The 2009 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study is based on responses gathered between June 2008 and June 2009 from more than 66,000 guests who stayed in a hotel between May 2008 and June 2009.