Guests' satisfaction with hotels drops, annual survey finds

Guests' satisfaction with hotels is deteriorating, a new survey released today finds.

Overall satisfaction with check-in and check-out, food and other hotel services and facilities, such as pools and business centers, has dropped to its lowest level in seven years of surveys, J.D. Power and Associates' annual survey of North American hotel guests says.

The survey — based on online responses from more than 61,700 guests who stayed in a North American hotel June 2011 through May 2012 — finds that overall guest satisfaction has declined from a year ago. It dropped seven points on the survey's 1,000-point scale, to 757.

J.D. Power says guest satisfaction with "the underlying experience" at hotels has deteriorated much more than the seven-point decline indicates. Indicative is how satisfaction with rooms has dropped within a point of its lowest level in the past six years.

A drop in satisfaction with check-in and check-out services, and with food and beverage services, could be a result of the continuing impact of cuts in staffing made during the economic downturn, says Jessica McGregor, a J.D. Power senior manager.

Charging for Internet access also is a sore point. Guests who were charged for access had an average satisfaction score of 688 for costs and fees — 76 points lower than those who weren't charged extra.

"As the industry continues to recover from the economic downturn, hoteliers need to get back to the fundamentals and improve the overall guest experience," says Stuart Greif, a J.D. Power vice president.

"Charging guests more and providing less is not a winning combination from a guest satisfaction perspective, much less a winning business strategy."

The survey also found that guests who book through an online travel agency are more price-sensitive, report more problems, have less satisfaction with their stay and are less loyal to hotel brands than guests who book directly with a hotel.

Luxury hotel Ritz-Carlton had the highest guest satisfaction score — 864 — of all hotel companies and brands.

This also was the third-consecutive year Ritz-Carlton received the highest score in the luxury hotel category.

Missouri-based Drury Hotels finished No. 1 among midscale limited service hotels. It was the seventh-consecutive year that Drury Hotels, which has more than 130 sites in 20 states, had the highest score in its category.

Among extended-stay hotels, Homewood Suites recorded the highest satisfaction score for the third-consecutive year.

Hilton Garden Inn and SpringHill Suites tied for the best score — 811 — among upscale hotels.

Other hotel brands receiving the highest guest satisfaction score, by category:

- Upper upscale: Omni Hotels and Resorts.

- Midscale full service: Holiday Inn.

- Economy/budget: Jameson Inn.


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