WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.—Hotel guest satisfaction has risen to a record high, while the number of guests experiencing problems during their stay has dropped significantly, according to the J.D. Power 2015 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study.
The study, now in its 19th year, measures overall guest satisfaction across eight hotel segments: luxury; upper upscale; upscale; upper midscale; midscale; economy/budget; upper extended stay; and extended stay. Seven key factors are examined in each segment to determine overall satisfaction: reservation; check-in/check-out; guest room; food and beverage; hotel services; hotel facilities; and cost and fees. Satisfaction is calculated on a 1,000-point scale.
Overall satisfaction in 2015 reaches an all-time high with a score of 804, up 20 points from 2014. This is the first time satisfaction has surpassed the 800-point mark. The record-high performance is driven by a significant 20 percent reduction from 2014 in the number of guests who report experiencing a problem during their stay, the lowest incidence since 2006. Staff interactions with guests have a great impact on mitigating problems. There is a 50 percent reduction in the average number of problems experienced when staff members greet guests with a smile “all the time,” compared to when guests are only greeted with a smile “sometimes.”
Hotels have an opportunity to substantially improve satisfaction by proactively addressing guest needs. While service recovery is often emphasized as a strategy to regain guest loyalty, it’s even more important to prevent problems from occurring in the first place, which is underscored by a 310-point satisfaction gap between guests who say they “strongly agree” that the hotel staff anticipated their needs and those who “strongly disagree” with this statement (912 vs. 602, respectively).
“Hotels that proactively meet guest needs have the ability to create a positive guest experience,” said Rick Garlick, global travel and hospitality practice lead at J.D. Power. “While service recovery is extremely important in the hotel industry, it’s most effective when the entire guest experience is a positive one. Hotel staff members need to maintain a proper balance between proactively addressing needs and responding to problems effectively. Doing so can help guests feel good about their selection of the hotel brand and increase the likelihood they will return for another stay or recommend it to others.”
Among hotel guests who are “delighted” with their experience (an overall satisfaction rating of 10 on a 10-point scale), 80 percent say they “definitely will” recommend the brand to a friend, relative or colleague, compared with only 2 percent of those who are “disappointed” (ratings of 5 or below). Additionally, among hotel guests who are “delighted,” 66 percent say they “definitely will” stay again, compared with only 4 percent of those who are “disappointed.”
There is a strong relationship between guests’ perceptions of how well the hotel brand meets their needs and overall satisfaction. Among Scrutinizers—guests who thoroughly research their hotel choice to ensure it meets their specific needs—56 percent say the hotel brand they selected was “perfect for them.” Satisfaction among Scrutinizers is 898, which is the highest among all guest groups. In comparison, among Price Buyers—guests who select their hotel based primarily on price—only 15 percent say the hotel brand they selected was “perfect for them.” Satisfaction among Price Buyers is 740, the lowest among all groups.
The following hotel brands rank highest in guest satisfaction in their respective segments: luxury, The Ritz-Carlton; upper upscale, Omni Hotels & Resorts; upscale, Hyatt Place; upper midscale: Drury Hotels (previously ranked highest in the Midscale segment for 9 consecutive years); midscale, Wingate by Wyndham; economy/budget, Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham (for a third consecutive year); upper extended stay, Homewood Suites by Hilton (for a third consecutive year); and extended stay, Candlewood Suites (for a second consecutive year).
The 2015 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study is based on responses gathered between June 2014 and May 2015 from more than 62,000 guests in Canada and the United States who stayed at a hotel in North America between May 2014 and May 2015.