Guests Give Hotel Kudos

Customer satisfaction at North American hotels is up despite increased hotel room rates and occupancy, J.D. Power and Associates reports in its annual hotel guest survey. Overall guest satisfaction rose 19 points over last year's survey, increasing from 736 to 755 on an index scale of 1,000 points.

"As the travel industry continues rebounding from its prolonged post-9/11 slump, hotel chains have benefited from the increased ability to invest significant funds to renovate guest rooms, enhance room amenities, and improve food and beverage offerings," says Linda Hirneise, partner in the marketing research firm's global travel and hospitality practice. "The key [to the improvement] is adding the kinds of value-added services guests really want," Hirneise adds.

For example, while many hotel chains have introduced new amenities and services such as satellite radios or Internet check-in, chains that improve on offerings in traditional comforts receive bigger boosts in customer satisfaction scores, according to the survey. Amenities that customers especially like include complimentary breakfasts, in-room refrigerators and coffee makers, pillow-top mattresses, and high-speed Internet access.

The study also finds that more people are making their hotel reservations online this year as compared with last year—41 percent versus 36 percent. And hotel brand Web sites continue to earn an increased market share of online bookings compared with independent travel Web sites, according to the study. In most segments, reservations were booked directly through hotel Web sites more than twice as often as through independent sites.

The 2005 North America Guest Satisfaction Index Study is based on responses from 37,471 guests who stayed in hotels between December and May.