J.D. Power: Guest Satisfaction Spikes from 2009 to 2010

As the hotel industry begins to recover from the economic downturn, overall satisfaction among hotel guests has improved considerably from 2009, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2010 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study.

Now in its 14th 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.

Each of the six segments has improved in satisfaction in 2010, compared with 2009, with extended stay properties and mid-scale full service hotels demonstrating the greatest gains. Across all segments, satisfaction with the costs and fees, reservations and guest room measures improve most notably.

“Many hotel chains were able to sustain relatively high satisfaction levels during the previous 12 months, despite contending with revenue declines and cost pressures caused by the economic downturn,” said Mark Schwartz, director of the global hospitality and travel practice at J.D. Power and Associates. “As the industry recovers and guest volumes increase, it will be critical for hotel chains to focus on effectively managing and delivering consistently high levels of products and services. When guests experience variation in service within a hotel property or across different hotels within the same brand, there is a notable detrimental effect on overall satisfaction.”

The following hotel brands rank highest in guest satisfaction within their respective segments:

*    Luxury: The Ritz-Carlton
*    Upscale: Omni Hotels & Resorts
*    Mid-Scale Full Service: Hilton Garden Inn (for a second consecutive year)
*    Mid-Scale Limited Service: Drury Inn & Suites (for a fifth consecutive year)
*    Economy/Budget: Microtel Inns & Suites (for a ninth consecutive year)
*    Extended Stay: Homewood Suites

The study finds that the proportion of hotel guests making reservations online has increased in 2010, to 58 percent from 54 percent in 2009. Guests of extended stay properties are the most likely to book their reservation on the Internet, while guests of economy/budget hotels are the least likely. Overall, hotel guests are more likely to book online using the hotel brand’s website rather than an independent travel website.

“Guests who make reservations directly through the hotel—whether via phone or website—are notably more satisfied with their overall experience than guests who book through an independent travel website,” said Schwartz. “Most hotel guests who make reservations through an independent travel website indicate they do so because of price. However, twice as many guests experienced problems with their reservation when booking through independent sites, compared with hotel brand websites.”

The top five “must-have” amenities for hotel guests in 2010 are wireless Internet access; complimentary breakfast; bedding and pillow choices, pillow-top mattresses; and free parking. In particular, hotel properties have increased offerings of wireless Internet access during the past several years, with 77 percent of guests in 2010 indicating they have used Wi-Fi rather than cable Internet connections in their guest room, compared with 55 percent in 2007. The offering of complimentary Internet access varies by segment, with properties in the luxury and upscale segments being less likely to offer it, compared with mid-scale limited service and extended stay properties.

“Trending indicates that guests are starting to expect wireless Internet access in their hotel rooms,” said Schwartz. “In today’s digitally connected world, being able to use mobile devices or computers without interruption is considered a comfort of home that should extend to the hotel experience.”

The study findings also include the following key trends:

*    The vast majority of hotel guests—87 percent—indicate they prefer a smoke-free environment.
*    Guest awareness of property-initiated “green” programs has increased slightly in 2010, with 68 percent of guests stating that they are aware of their hotel’s conservation efforts, compared with 66 percent in 2009. Among these guests, 73 percent say they participated in their hotel’s conservation programs.

The 2010 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study is based on responses gathered between June 2009 and June 2010 from more than 53,000 guests who stayed in a hotel between May 2009 and June 2010.

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