JD Power: Guest Satisfaction Declined in F&B and Staff Service

Throughout the pandemic, hotel operators reduced staff and services as they adjusted to reduced demand. Guests often reacted negatively to these changes as evidenced by lower stay satisfaction in branded hotels operated by the top third-party management companies, according to the J.D. Power 2021 North America Third-Party Hotel Management Guest Satisfaction Benchmark. Driving the decline in guest satisfaction are food and beverage and staff service.

“As hotel demand increases, guests are expressing not just a desire, but an expectation of a return to brand standards,” said Andrea Stokes, hospitality practice lead at J.D. Power. “In the presence of lingering state and local restrictions and labor shortages, that can be a challenge for management companies. As we emerge from the worst of the pandemic, third-party operators have an opportunity to incorporate guest feedback into policies and training to ensure that staff can manage through these challenges without sacrificing guest service.”

The benchmark, which evaluates guest satisfaction with branded hotels that are operated by the largest third-party management companies, finds that guest satisfaction remains stable for amenities such as WiFi, pools, and fitness centers. Perceptions of value for money also are unchanged compared with the pre-pandemic benchmark released in 2020.

The 2021 benchmark consists of six factors: arrival/departure; cost and fees; food and beverage; guestroom; hotel facilities; and services and amenities. The benchmark includes third-party operators with more than 14,000 rooms under management and is based on 3,085 guest responses for branded hotel stays from May 2020 through June 2021.

Benchmark Ranking

Atrium Hospitality ranks highest in overall customer satisfaction, with a score of 863 (on a 1,000-point scale). Atrium performs particularly well in the factors for food and beverage; services and amenities; hotel facilities; and cost and fees. White Lodging (858) ranks second and Crestline Hotels & Resorts (855) ranks third.

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  1. You are “preachin-to-the-choir” here. We Hoteliers know all of this but the true GAP we are battling is that the public (transient and business travelers) are ready to get to “normal” and we even see growth beyond 2019 occupancy/covers served… BUT the staffing levels in F&B and high-touch positions such as housekeeping, Servers and retail is down 40 – 60% from normal. The pool of people willing to work as a Server, Housekeeper or even retail is BLEAK! A small percentage of guests have “short fuses” when things are not normal (such as stay-over cleaning being stopped) and want to demand a lower room rate. The lower room rate would generate MORE demand for guests… who cannot be served because of the staffing issues. I believe this challenge will linger for 12 – 18 months… I truly want to be wrong…

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