J.D. Power: Hotel Guests More Satisfied With Costs, Checkin, Reservations

Hotel guest satisfaction rose in 2009 compared with 2008 in most tiers despite cuts in spending and staff, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2009 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study released this week. Drops in average daily rates as the industry switched from a seller's to a buyer's market helped boost scores.

The study, now in its 13th year, is based on responses from more than 66,000 guests who stayed in a hotel between May 2008 and June 2009. Hotels are rated on seven measures: reservations, checkin and checkout, guest rooms, food and beverage service, hotel services, hotel facilities and costs and fees.

Overall satisfaction levels in the upscale, midprice full-service, midprice limited-service and economy tiers all improved compared with 2009, according to the study. The luxury tier's satisfaction level was stable, and only the extended stay tier saw a decline in satisfaction. Across all tiers, guests were more satisfied with reservations and checkin processes and less satisfied with the guest rooms.

"The main general drivers continue to be costs and fees and the guest room," said Michael Drago, director of the global hospitality and travel practice at J.D. Power and Associates. "People want to believe they're getting a reasonable rate and have it live up to expectations."

Travelers rated Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts as the top brand in the luxury tier, ending a two-year reign by Marriott's Ritz-Carlton brand, which finished second. Four Seasons had the biggest year-over-year jump in guest satisfaction in any tier, Drago said. Lower occupancies might actually have helped the scores, as hotels have more time to devote to individual guests, he said. "I would guess some of it is accidental benefit from decreased volume," Drago said.

Four Seasons scored better in cost satisfaction in the survey despite having a higher self-reported average daily rate than Ritz-Carlton, according to Drago.

In the upscale tier, Hilton's Embassy Suites brand received the highest score for the third year in a row. Other high-performing brands in the tier included Wyndham Hotels & Resorts, Omni Hotels and Marriott's flagship and Renaissance brands.

Travelers gave top marks to Hilton Garden Inn in the midprice full-service segment, followed by Hyatt Place, the top brand last year, and Courtyard by Marriott. Drury Inn & Suites was the top brand in the midprice limited-service segment and had the third-highest satisfaction score overall, behind only Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton, Drago said.

InterContinental Hotel Group's Staybridge Suites was the highest-rated brand in the extended stay tier, followed closely by last year's top brand, Hilton's Homewood Suites, and Marriott's Residence Inn. "The extended stay group is the most stable, with the top three brands changing only slightly over the past few years," Drago said.

In the economy/budget tier, Wyndham's Microtel Inns & Suites maintained a healthy lead over the rest of its competition. The brand has rated highest in the tier in J.D. Power's survey for eight years running.

Source: Business Travel News