In the current economy, with tight travel budgets, what makes guests rave about a hotel experience is becoming increasingly important to hoteliers and travelers alike. Throughout 2009, Coyle Hospitality Group gathered word-of-mouth feedback from 5,000 travelers to gain a better understanding of what makes a great hotel stay.
"We began this project recognizing that word of mouth referrals, are in themselves stories, complete with heroes, heroines, and a supporting cast," said Jim Coyle, president and Founder of Coyle Hospitality Group. "The story is told in the first person and, in many cases, contains a defining moment that galvanizes the guest's opinion, turning them from a customer into a promoter."
Coyle researchers simply asked two questions:
1. What hotel provided you with the best experience in the last year?
Surveyed guests stayed at properties ranging from Extended Stay and Economy to Luxury and Casinos, and everything in between. Coyle pored through the narratives and categorized the data into over 86 attributes that guests cited as important. Among the top four mentioned attributes across all brands were cleanliness, bed/bedding, staff friendliness, and staff helpfulness.
Key takeaways include:
* The top attributes mentioned across all segments were "guestroom cleanliness" and "staff is helpful, capable with tasks, and accommodating." Guestroom cleanliness, however, was mentioned in 42 percent of Economy best experiences and 39 percent of all best experiences. As expected, the attribute occurred less frequently for Upscale and Luxury best experiences, at 28 percent and 22 percent respectively.
* The attribute "staff is helpful/capable with tasks/accommodating" was mentioned in 38 percent of Economy best experiences, but only 22 percent of Luxury best experiences. This does not mean that these things were not important in Luxury and Upscale environments, but that they were not the key factors in differentiating a "best experience" stay from any other at an upscale location.
* In the Bath attributes, towels were the top mentioned attribute in Economy best experiences. However, bath amenities were the key attributes mentioned in luxury and Lifestyle segments.
* Not surprisingly, the guestroom decor and layout was the second most frequently mentioned attribute in the Lifestyle segment, after the property design attribute, which was first. The guestroom decor and layout attribute was in the top ten attributes for the Casino and Upscale segments as well, but was interestingly not in the top ten for the Luxury segment.
* Staff attentiveness and availability was mentioned in 19 percent of Luxury best experiences, but it was much lower at 11 percent or lower for other segments. Clearly, travelers at luxury hotels rely on the staff more to "make the experience."
* Price was the sixth most frequently mentioned attribute in Economy best experiences and the 14th most frequently mentioned item in Midscale best experiences.
* Guestroom View was one of the Top Mentioned Attributes for all best experiences, and was in the top 20 mentioned attributes for Upscale, Luxury, and Lifestyle best experiences.