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More hotels meet their guests' expectations

Jul. 24, 2013 - 11:18AM   |  
By NANCY TREJOS   |   Comments

Guests are more satisfied with hotels than they’ve been in years, even as room rates and fees have gone up, a new study finds.

After two consecutive years of giving hotels low marks, guests now say they are much happier with how hotels operate, particularly when it comes to handling reservations and the check-in, check-out process, according to J.D. Power and Associates’ annual survey of North American hotel guests. Guests also rated hotels on factors such as the room, food and beverage offerings and other services and facilities.

The survey — based on responses from more than 68,700 guests who stayed in a hotel in North America between June 2012 and May 2013 — found that overall guest satisfaction gets a 777 on a 1,000-point scale, up 20 points from 2012. It marks the highest score for the industry since J.D. Power started collecting comparable ratings in 2006.

Rick Garlick, global travel and hospitality practice lead at J.D. Power, says guests’ satisfaction dropped during the economic downturn when hotels cut staff and curtailed improvements to facilities.

Now that business is picking back up, hotels are once again investing in staff, rooms and facilities, he says. “The industry is starting to catch up with what they need to do to satisfy guests, and customers have noticed.”

They are also raising rates, but that has not dampened customer satisfaction. Through June this year, the average daily rate was $109.49, according to industry tracker STR. In 2012, it was $106.19, and in 2011, it was $101.89. Garlick says guests are much less price-sensitive. “Prices have gone up, but people are actually more satisfied with what they’re getting for the price they pay,” he says.

In fact, when guests chose a hotel primarily because of the price, they were less satisfied than those who based their decision on other criteria. The most satisfied guests were those who sought information about the hotel through online review sites. Their satisfaction rate was 114 points above average.

Travelers care more about their experience, Garlick says, which is greatly enhanced by face-to-face interaction with hotel employees.

Overall satisfaction among guests who interact with four or more employees beyond the check-in process was 856, about 79 points higher than the average. Satisfaction dropped to 724 when guests had no interaction with staff beyond check-in.

The Ritz-Carlton was named the top luxury brand for the fourth year in a row. Holiday Inn was the top midscale full-service chain for the third consecutive year.

Nancy Trejos reports for USA Today.

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