Hotels fail to keep guests happy, satisfaction slides (again)

Guests lie beside the pool at the Hilton Garden Inn in South Padre Island, Texas. Hilton Garden Inn is one of the top-ranked brands in J.D. Power's new hotel satisfaction survey.
(Jesse Mendoza / Valley Morning Star)

Maybe it’s the complicated check-in process. The room service food may not be up to par. The gym, pool and other facilities -- yech. Whatever the hotel industry is doing to drag itself out of recessionary lows, it’s not meeting guest expectations.

A new report from J.D. Power and Associates finds that guests are the most disappointed they’ve been in seven years with the check-in and check-out procedure, the food and drinks served and hotel services and facilities available. It’s also been years since they’ve been this unhappy with the rooms they’ve been offered.

Overall satisfaction is down seven points from last year, reaching 757 on a 1,000-point index. Visitors are generally happy with costs and fees, which according to researchers has the effect of masking a steep deterioration in the rest of their experience.

“Charging guests more and providing less is not a winning combination from a guest satisfaction perspective, much less a winning business strategy,” Stuart Greif, a J.D. Power vice president, said in a statement. “In short, hoteliers are falling further behind and need to catch up.”


One easy way to tick off guests: charge for Internet access. More than half (55%) of hotel customers go online during their stay, up from 20% from 2006. Among the 11% of guests who pay a fee to connect, their satisfaction rating of overall costs is 76 points lower than ratings awarded by other guests.

Researchers said that because most Americans can get Wi-Fi for free in coffee shops and other businesses, having to shell out for Web privileges in a hotel makes them feel fleeced.

Also, visitors who book a room through an online travel agency tend to be less satisfied with their stay and report more problems compared with guests who book through the hotel’s website or call directly, according to the report

For the third straight year, the Ritz-Carlton properties were ranked best in the luxury hotel class and overall, with a 864 score. Jameson Inn was voted the best economy or budget option. Other highly rated hoteliers include Omni Hotels & Resorts, Hilton Garden Inn, Holiday Inn and Homewood Suites.

The survey is based on responses from 61,700 guests at North American hotels from June 2011 through May 2012.


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