Frontline hotel staff did not have an easy job during the past year. Tasked with enforcing mask mandates, reminding guests which services were temporarily unavailable due to the pandemic, and putting their own health at risk daily, frontline workers still managed to keep guests happy. The hotel industry maintains a strong customer satisfaction score in the J.D. Power 2021 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index (NAGSI) Study. But, now that the pandemic is waning, hotel guests have made it clear they want back breakfast and other hotel amenities.
“Frontline staff have been the real heroes of the North American hotel industry during this past year, managing to navigate a very difficult situation while holding overall hotel guest satisfaction steady and actually improving customer satisfaction with staff interactions,” said Andrea Stokes, hospitality practice lead at J.D. Power. “As we transition to a more normalized travel environment, however, guest expectations are growing rapidly and certain must-haves, such as smart TVs, pleasant views, and balconies, are becoming increasingly important to maintaining high levels of guest satisfaction. It is also clear that guests expect breakfast service to resume, especially in limited-service hotels that usually provide complimentary hot breakfast.”
Additional key findings from the study include:
- Hotel staff, flexible cancellation policies save the day in crisis: Overall, hotel guest satisfaction across the study is 830 (on a 1,000-point scale), which is unchanged from 2020 and 10 points higher than in 2019. The strong performance is driven in large part by the overall hotel staff experience, which increases slightly in 2021. Hotel guests also had higher satisfaction with value for money, reflecting the reduction in room rates many hotel properties undertook to stimulate demand.
- Satisfaction with breakfast declines: One area that is a major drag on customer satisfaction in the study is breakfast. In all but one hotel segment, guests were particularly dissatisfied with reduced variety and quality—if breakfast was offered at all. Through the study fielding dates, 36 percent of hotels eliminated buffet-style serving.
- I want my smart TV: During the pandemic, consumers stuck at home increased subscriptions to a variety of streaming entertainment services. It is not surprising, then, that the study shows an increase in demand for smart TVs in hotel rooms. Guests find that the items hotels need to have that have grown the most in importance since 2020 are smart TVs (up 9 percentage points), balcony/views (up 6 percentage points), and healthy living/wellness amenities (up 5 percentage points).
Hotel brands that ranked highest in guest satisfaction in their respective segment include:
- Luxury: The Ritz-Carlton
- Upper Upscale: Hard Rock Hotels
- Upscale: AC Hotels
- Upper Midscale: Drury Hotels (for a 16th consecutive year)
- Midscale: Tru by Hilton (for a second consecutive year)
- Economy: SureStay by Best Western (for a second consecutive year)
The 2021 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index (NAGSI) Study, now in its 25th year, analyzes guest responses to more than 150 questions regarding branded hotel stay experiences and benchmarks the performance of 104 brands across six market segments. The 2021 study is based on responses from 32,963 hotel guests for stays between May 2020 and June 2021.