WESTLAKE VILLAGE, California—Hotel guest satisfaction with costs and fees has improved despite higher room rates, while overall satisfaction has declined during the past year, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2011 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study released today.
Read J.D. Power's press full release as PDF.
At first glance, the results make for a peculiar paradox, said Stuart Greif, J.D. Power’s VP and GM of the global hospitality and travel practice.
VP and GM of the
global hospitality and travel practice,
“(Guests are) paying more for an apparently less satisfying experience with the rest of their stay,” he said wryly. But further analysis reveals a reset in guest expectations as the market returns to some semblance of normal.
Though average daily rate for the U.S. hotel industry rose 4% in May, guests still think they’re getting a good deal compared to previous peaks and more aggressive price jumps in the airline industry, Greif said.
Satisfaction with costs and fees increased to an average of 739 (on a 1,000-point scale) in 2011—20 points higher than 2010, according to the study.
Now in its 15th year, the guest satisfaction index measures overall hotel guest satisfaction across seven hotel segments: luxury; upper upscale; 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; guestroom; food-and-beverage; hotel services; hotel facilities; and costs and fees.
Overall satisfaction averaged 764 in 2011, down from 771 in 2010.
Declines in overall satisfaction are attributable to guests’ reset expectations as well: With the dark days behind the North American hotel market, travelers expect service levels and the quality of the hotel product to be back to where it was in 2007 and 2008. Many hoteliers, however, have delayed capital expenditures and are only now beginning to hire back staff and refresh lobbies and rooms.
“There’s a lag effect,” Greif said. “(Those things) don’t come back as quickly as the customer.”
Further straining matters are the basic operational issues involved with higher occupancies. With more people come longer waits at check-in, fewer upgrades and more crowded F&B outlets and gyms, he said.
Though overall satisfaction was down, several brands posted significant improvements in the past year. W Hotels reported a 32-point jump on the 1,000-point scale of satisfaction. Another gainer in the luxury segment was Loews, which rose 29 points.
In the mid-scale full service segment, both Holiday Inn and Best Western showed notable improvements. Holiday Inn, which wrapped up its brand refresh earlier this year, increased satisfaction by 16 points. Best Western, which rolled out its descriptor program, saw a gain of 15 points.
Among mid-scale limited service hotels, Wingate by Wyndham experienced an increase of 19 points, while La Quinta posted an improvement of 15 points.
Days Inn posted the strongest satisfaction improvement among economy/budget hotels, rising 17 points.
The following hotel brands rank highest in guest satisfaction within their respective segments:
• Luxury: The Ritz-Carlton (for a second consecutive year)
• Upper upscale: Embassy Suites Hotels
• Upscale: Hotel Indigo
• Mid-scale full service: Holiday Inn
• Mid-scale limited service: Drury Inn & Suites (for a sixth consecutive year)
• Economy/budget: Microtel Inns & Suites (for a 10th consecutive year)
• Extended stay: Homewood Suites (for a second consecutive year)