North American hotel satisfaction slipping, says study by J.D. Power
We're ramped up about the Ritz. But not so kind about Knights Inn.
In fact, North Americans aren't terribly happy at all these days when it comes to our hotels.
A new study by J.D. Power and Associates says guest satisfaction with hotels is at its lowest level since 2006. Their study of nearly 62,000 American and Canadian hotel guests between Aug. 2011 and May 2012 found that satisfaction was sitting at a mark of 757 on a 1,000 point index. That's down seven points from the 764 mark the prior year, the company said.
It's not a huge drop, but officials warned the industry needs to shape up.
"Charging guests more and providing less is not a winning combination from a guest satisfcation perspective, much less a winning business strategy," said Stuart Grief, a J.D. Power vice president. "In short, hoteliers are falling further behind and need to catch up."
One way hotels can improve is to reduce or eliminate Internet fees. The study said that back in 2006, only 20 per cent of hotel guests went online during their stay. Now it's up to 55 per cent (and I'm surprised it's that low, to be honest).
Among the 11 per cent of gtuests who pay a fee to connect (and I'm surprised that's all), their satisfaction rating for thier hotel stay is 76 points lower than ratings awarded by other guests. So obviously the Internet fee irks. Big-time.
When you can surf the Web for free at Starbucks or at a lot of city parks in cities such as New York, having to pay to use the Internet in your pj's seems like gouging to me. I often recommend folks join hotels' frequent stay programs, as by joining (and, yes, giving up some personal info) you can often get the Internet for free. That can save $45 or $50 or more for a three-day stay.
As for individual properties, you might find some surprises. Ritz Carlton came out on top overall and was number one in the luxury category, with a satisfaction rating of 864. That's more than 100 points higher than the 757 average for all hotels.
Next in the luxury category was Toronto-based Four Seasons at 856, then JW Marriot (834) and Waldorf Astoria Hotels and Resorts (830). The average in the luxury category was 822. Which means that Toronto-based Fairmont was below par at 818, as were W Hotels (811), Loews (798), GrandHyatt/ParkHyatt (797) and Intercontinental Hotels and Resorts (784).
This year marks the third in a row that Ritz Carlton has come out on top in the JD Power rating.
In the "Upper Upscale" Segment, Omni Hotels and Resorts scored 811, followed by Embassy Suites (805), Marriott (796), Hilton (792), Renaissance (789), Westin (788), Hyatt (787), Doubletree by Hilton (781) and Sheraton (773).
In the Upscale Segment (not upper upscale, just upscale, so you know) the numbers were as follows: Hilton Garden Inn (always a good bet in my book) 811, SpringHill Suites (usually a lot of space) 811, Aloft (808), Hyatt Place (808), Courtyard (793), Hotel Indigo (793), Wyndham (782), CrownePlaza (766), Delta (763), Four Points by Sheraton (757) and Radisson (755).
In the mid-scale full service category, tops was Holiday Inn (766), then Best Western (749), Red Lion (745), Clarion (723), Quality (714), Ramada Inn/Plaza (709) and Howard Johnson (693).
In mid-scale limited service, the top was Drury (841; quite an amazing score and third best of any hotel group overall), Hampton Inn and Suites (811), Holiday Inn Express (796), Wingate by Wyndham (790), Fairfield Inn/Suites (789), Country Inns and Suites (783), Comfort Suites (782), La Quinta Inns and Suites (770), AmericInn (745), Sleep Inn (744), Baymont Inn and Suites (739), Comfort Inn (735) and Ramada Limited (686).
The top economy/budget hotel was Jameson In with a 751 mark. Next in the economy category was Microtel by Wyndham (736), then Red Roof Inn (709), Days Inn (695), Howard Johnson Express (691), Super 8 (683), Econo Lodge (667), Motel 6 (659), Travelodge (651), Americas Best Value Inn (639), Rodeway Inn (633) and Knights Inn (620). The 620 for Knights Inn, by the way, is the worst score for any hotel group in the survey.
The best-rated for extended stays was Homewood Suites, winning for the third straight year and notching an impressive 838 mark in the latest figures. Staybridge Suites was just a little behind at 823, followed by Residence Inn at 819. Also in the extended stay category were Hyatt House (815), TownePlace Suites (798), Candlewood Suites (796), Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham (791), Homestead Studio Suites (704) and Extended Stay America (702).
I find it interesting that the extended stay places, by and large, did so well. They had four groups with ratings over 800, which means a lot of folks (me included) really like the suite life and the extra space and the ability to (usually) save money by cooking in the room.
JD Power officials said service is a key issue.
"Advocacy and loyalty rates are much higher among guests with a high opinion of the hotel staff." said Jessica McGregor, senior manager of global travel and hospitality practice. "These guests are also more likely to use various hotel services, such as eating at a hotel restaurant.
"A friendly, service-oriented staff helps drive top and bottom-line financial performance, not just satisfaction, by also generating greater repeat business and positive word of mouth," she said.