With the improving economy comes increased travel and hotel stays, but customer satisfaction with the underlying hotel experience continues to decline, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study.
Drury Hotels, Omni Hotels & Resorts, Holiday Inn, Homewood Suites, Hilton Garden Inn and SpringHill Suites (in a tie), Jameson Inn, And The Ritz-Carlton each rank highest in guest satisfaction in their respective segment, according to the study, now in its 16th year.
Overall hotel guest satisfaction is measured 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; guest room; food and beverage; hotel services; hotel facilities; and costs and fees.
Overall guest satisfaction has declined to 757 on a 1,000-point scale, down 7 index points from 2011. However, guest satisfaction with the underlying experience has deteriorated much more than this score suggests, as relatively high levels of satisfaction with cost and fees mask declines in other areas of the guest experience.
Satisfaction with check-in/check-out, food and beverage, hotel services, and hotel facilities are at new lows since the 2006 study and satisfaction with guest rooms has declined within one point of its lowest level in the past seven years.
"As the industry continues to recover and rates increase, hoteliers need to get back to the fundamentals and improve the overall guest experience," said Stuart Greif, vice president and general manager of the global travel and hospitality practice at J.D. Power and Associates, in a release. "Charging guests more and providing less is not a winning combination from a guest satisfaction perspective, much less a winning business strategy. In short, hoteliers are falling further behind and need to catch up."
The Staff Opinion Model, a new portion of the 2012 study, examines guest satisfaction with hotel staff by staff type across the guest experience. Overall, 56% of hotel guests have a high opinion of staff; 34% have an average opinion; and 10% have a low opinion of staff. Satisfaction is significantly higher among guests with a high opinion of hotel staff, compared with those with an average or low opinion of staff.
The study also examines how guests book their hotel stay. Guests who book through an online travel agency (OTA) tend to be more price-sensitive, have lower levels of satisfaction with their stay, are less loyal to hotel brands; and tend to report more problems, compared with guests who book through the hotel Web site or call the hotel or hotel brand directly.