Hotel guest satisfaction has gone up for the fourth straight year, but may be reaching a plateau, according to the new J.D. Power 2016 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study released Wednesday.
Perks such as free Wi-Fi and breakfast and premium bed linens that used to be special are now becoming the norm, says Rick Garlick, global travel and hospitality practice lead at J.D. Power.
“Customers have responded well to the enhanced offerings provided by some hotel brands to create value, but as those perks become standard, customers are quick to ask, ‘What have you done for me lately?’” he says.
The study, now in its 20th year, measures overall guest satisfaction across eight hotel segments, from budget to luxury. Overall satisfaction is rated in seven key measures: reservations systems, check-in/check-out, guest room, food and beverage, hotel services, hotel facilities; and cost and fees. Satisfaction is calculated on a 1,000-point scale.
Overall satisfaction increased by 2 points over last year for an average of 806, a much smaller increase than in recent years. In the past, guest satisfaction with cost and fees has played a key role in their overall ratings.
But this year, there was a very small increase in satisfaction in that area for most hotel types except for luxury hotels. Satisfaction in the luxury segment improved by 12 points overall. Much of that can be attributed to a 20-point improvement in cost and fees.
“Despite luxury hotels typically being the most expensive, this segment has been able to show guests that they’re providing additional value, which is clearly resonating,” Garlick says.
The study also found that satisfaction is higher among members of hotel rewards programs. But younger guests are less likely to be members than older guests.
Only 39% of Gen Y guests belong to a rewards program, compared with 56% of Gen X and 66% of Baby Boomer guests.
“We’re finding that every succeeding generation seems to be less likely to be a member of a hotel rewards program than the one before,” Garlick says. “As we’ve seen across numerous industries that J.D. Power tracks, younger guests in particular are especially driven by the value proposition, underscoring the importance for hotel brands to make a stronger case for the benefits of loyalty to these travelers.”
Other notable findings:
- Only 3% of guests take advantage of online or mobile check-in. Yet check-in/check-out satisfaction is highest among guests who use online or mobile check-in than among those who used any other method.
- The three most important amenities cited by guests are free Wi-Fi, breakfast and parking. In terms of their stays, 71% of guests say they received complimentary Wi-Fi, 56% received complimentary breakfast, and 61% received free parking. Luxurious bedding and linens were the fourth-most important amenity.
- Among guests who posted something about their stay on social media, 75% of the posts were positive and 13% were negative. Overall satisfaction is 40 points higher among guests who post comments to social media.
The brands that ranked the highest in guest satisfaction in their respective segments are:
- Luxury: The Ritz-Carlton (for a second consecutive year)
- Upper Upscale: Omni Hotels & Resorts (for a second consecutive year)
- Upscale: Hilton Garden Inn
- Upper Midscale: Drury Hotels (for 11 consecutive years)
- Midscale: Wingate by Wyndham (for a second consecutive year)
- Economy/Budget: Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham (for a fourth consecutive year)
- Upper Extended Stay: Hyatt House
- Extended Stay: Home2 Suites by Hilton
Ritz-Carlton earned the highest score in the history of the study at 896.
“To achieve the highest score in the history of the study is really a tribute to the commitment of our 40,000 ladies and gentlemen around the world,” says Herve Humler, president and chief operating officer of The Ritz-Carlton. “Every day they surpass the expectations of our guests with the level of exceptional service they deliver.”
Chuck Drury, president and CEO of Drury Hotels, attributed that to amenities such as free Wi-Fi, a hot breakfast each morning, soda and popcorn from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., and a 5:30 p.m. Kickback reception with beer, wine, mixed drinks, and appetizers.
“For more than 40 years, our goal has been to provide our guests with clean rooms, friendly service and an exceptional value,” he says. “We are proud and honored to be recognized once again by our guests and J.D. Power. To earn this award for 11 consecutive years is a tribute to the ongoing hard work and dedication of Drury’s 5,000 team members across the country.”
The survey is based on responses gathered between June 2015 and May 2016 from more than 63,000 guests in Canada and the USA for hotel stays between May 2015 and May 2016.
By Nancy Trejos, USA TODAY