Hotel guest satisfaction with costs and fees has improved despite higher room rates, while satisfaction with other service and product-related aspects has declined amid increasing occupancy rates, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2011 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study.
Occupancy Jumps 5%
The study finds that satisfaction with costs and fees has increased to an average of 739 (on a 1,000-point scale) in 2011, 20 points higher than 2010. Meanwhile, occupancy and average daily rate in the US hotel industry have been steadily increasing during the past year. According to Smith Travel Research, Inc., occupancy is up to an average of 65.1% as of May 2011, an increase of 4.6% compared with May 2010. During the same time frame, average daily rate has increased to an average of $101.54, up by 4% from last year.
Overall Satisfaction Drops
While satisfaction with cost and fees is higher in 2011 compared with 2010, satisfaction with other areas of the guest experience, ranging from facilities and operations to services, has decreased. As a result, overall satisfaction averages 764 in 2011, down from 771 in 2010.
According to J.D. Power analysis, many chains are now making investments that were delayed due to the downturn in the economy, but which will take time to complete. Hoteliers are also being careful not to add more staff until they believe higher levels of demand will be sustained. At the same time, guests are returning to hotels in greater numbers, reversing satisfaction gains realized when hotels were less busy during the downturn. J.D. Power advises the decline in overall satisfaction in 2011 reflects that hotel improvement efforts and investments are lagging behind rising customer expectations.
Ritz Carlton Impresses Luxury Customers
The study measures overall hotel guest satisfaction across seven1 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.
The following hotel brands rank highest in guest satisfaction within their respective segments:
- Luxury: The Ritz-Carlton (for a second consecutive year) with a score of 858 compared to segment average of 829;
- Upper Upscale: Embassy Suites Hotels with a score of 817 compared to segment average of 795;
- Upscale: Hotel Indigo with a score of 838 compared to segment average of 794;
- Mid-Scale Full Service: Holiday Inn with a score of 775 compared to segment average of 752;
- Mid-Scale Limited Service: Drury Inn & Suites (for a sixth consecutive year) with a score of 836 compared to segment average of 737;
- Economy/Budget: Microtel Inns & Suites (for a 10th consecutive year) with a score of 740 compared to segment average of 679;
- Extended Stay: Homewood Suites (for a second consecutive year) with a score of 821 compared to segment average of 782.
- 18% of hotel guests in 2011 report having experienced a problem during their stay.
- 13% of guests say they experienced a problem with the internet connection or speed at their hotel, and 60% reported the problem.
- Among guests who reported noise problems to hotel staff, 35% say their problem was resolved. Among guests who reported Internet usage problems, the resolution rate averages 39%.
- Satisfaction among guests who experience a problem during their hotel stay averages more than 100 points lower than satisfaction among guests with a problem-free experience.
Amex: Barbell Effect Hits Lodging Spend
Economy lodging was favored by all US consumer groups in Q1 2011, with overall spend increasing by 14%, according to American Express Business Insights data. Echoing the barbell effect, luxury lodging spend was close behind with a 7.5% increase, showing businesses and consumers alike spent at extreme ends of the spectrum. Upscale and midscale lodging spend increased by just 3.2% and 1.2%, respectively.
Ultra-affluent consumers (the highest-spending group) increased spend on economy lodging by an impressive 19.6% during the quarter, compared to an increase of 3.8% on luxury lodging. Average consumers splurged a bit more than their ultra-affluent counterparts by increasing spend on luxury lodging by 5.7%, but economy lodging still remained the preferred choice for this group at a 7.4% spend increase.
About the Data: The 2011 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study is based on responses gathered between June 2010 and May 2011 from more than 61,300 guests from Canada and the United States who stayed in a hotel in North America between May 2010 and May 2011. J.D. Power and Associates published the study, which is the source of the enclosed charts.