Hotel Guest Satisfaction Reaches Seven-Year High, J.D. Power Reports

After two consecutive years of declines, guest satisfaction with U.S. hotels has not only increased, but reached a seven-year high, according to J.D. Power and Associates' 2013 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study, the results of which were published yesterday.

Now in its 17th year, the J.D. Power study is based on a survey of more than 68,700 hotel guests who stayed at a hotel between July 2012 and May 2013. Guests rated hotels on reservations, check-in and check-out procedures, room quality, food and beverage quality, services, facilities, and costs and fees.

Overall, guest satisfaction in this year’s study averaged 777 on a 1,000-point scale, up 20 points from last year and the highest score since J.D. Power introduced its current methodology in 2006.

“The fact that guest satisfaction has turned a corner is great news for an industry that has struggled to sufficiently meet guest expectations in the past few years,” Rick Garlick, head of J.D. Power’s global travel and hospitality practice, said in a statement. “Many hotel chains are finally benefiting from the long-term investments they have been making to improve their properties in terms of staffing, rooms and facilities. Furthermore, cost and fees satisfaction has increased while the factor has simultaneously declined in relative importance to overall satisfaction across all segments, indicating reduced price sensitivity among guests. These are all positive changes for the industry.”

Satisfaction is highest, the study suggests, among guests who have the most interactions with hotel staff, averaging 856 for guests who interact with four or more staff types, excluding check-in staff, and 724 when guests interact with no other staff types.

“As hoteliers experiment with automated methods of check-in and check-out that tend to reduce the number of human touch points, it is important that they use the additional staff time gained to offer a warmer, more personalized experience for their guests,” said Ramez Faza, senior manager of J.D. Power’s global travel and hospitality practice. “Hotels should never underestimate the power of the human element. Whether it’s assisting a guest with a special request or a friendly greeting from staff members in the hallway, the people aspect plays a key role in guest satisfaction and loyalty.”

Top Hotel Brands

Travelers rated Ritz-Carlton, Kimpton Hotels, Hyatt Place, Holiday Inn, Drury Hotels, Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham, Homewood Suites and TownePlace Suites as the top brands in their respective segments.

For the fourth consecutive year, Ritz-Carlton placed first in the luxury segment with a score of 881 out of a possible 1,000 points. Kimpton placed first in the upper upscale segment, with a score of 845. Hyatt Place reigned supreme in the upscale segment, with a score of 831. Holiday Inn triumphed in the mid-scale full-service segment for the third consecutive year, with 788 points. For the eighth year in a row, Drury Hotels ranked first in the mid-scale limited-service segment, with 858 points. Finally, Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham was tops in the economy/budget segment, with 756 points; Homewood Suites in the upper extended stay segment, with 845 points; and TownePlace Suites in the extended stay segment, with 819 points.

Among the most satisfied guests overall (114 points above the industry average) are the 7 percent that J.D. Power calls “scrutinizers” — those who seek out information through online hotel review sites and use it as the basis for their booking.

“In many cases, hotel review sites play a key role in influencing guests to select one property over another, making them a powerful tool,” Garlick said. “Before these sites became mainstream, guests tended to choose a property based on price, previous experiences or location. But now, armed with so much more detailed information from fellow travelers, guests can make more informed choices that ultimately result in more realistic expectations about the property. This can go a long way toward satisfaction with their stay.”

For full results and complete rankings, visit J.D. Power's website.