Satisfaction With European Hotel Slips, Study Says

"Treat us like valued guests/human beings and give us Internet that works."

That may be the message to European hoteliers from customers who are less enamored of their lodgings than they once were, according to a JD Power & Associates survey released Thursday.

On a 1,000-point scale, the 2011 survey showed satisfaction at 735, 10 points below the 2010 results. The declines occurred in every segment in which satisfaction was measured: guest rooms; costs and fees; hotel facilities; check-in/check-out; food and beverage; hotel services; and reservations.

The quality of the interaction between hotel guests and the staff and the quality of the Internet connection may have played the biggest role in the satisfaction -- or lack thereof -- of the 18,000 travelers who were part of a study from May to September.

"Ultimately what bonds people is how they interact," said Stuart Greif, vice president and general manager, global travel and hospitality, for JD Power. "That hotel housekeeper or that employee you pass in the lobby -- it's an opportunity for hoteliers to show they are caring for guests." The staff can become part of what Greif called "the notion of staff as a strategic source of competitive advantage," and cutbacks in employees may have contributed to the ratings decline.

The more people who have devices that require Internet connectivity, the more they require reliability in that connectivity. "That's more true of Gen X and Gen Y," Greif said. Unreliable connections result in lower satisfaction scores, "especially among the folks growing up digitally."

The tops in each hotel category for satisfaction:

-- Upper upscale: Steigenberger Hotels & Resorts; Marriott Hotels & Resorts; and Sheraton Hotels & Resorts

--Upscale: Hilton Garden Inn; Riu Hotels & Resorts; and Dorint Hotels & Resorts

--Midscale: Ramada; Holiday Inn; and Park Inn

--Economy: Premier Inn; B&B Hotels; and Travelodge