Hotel guests are happier, but very particular about cleanliness

Cleanliness is next to happiness, hotel guests say. Those who perceive their rooms as unclean were significantly less satisfied than those who thought their room was clean. Satisfaction with hotels, including Hilton Garden Inn, which ranked tops in its category, reached a high in the J.D. Power study released Wednesday.
(Clare Becker / Associated Press)

Hear that thunderous applause? As Pharrell Williams would say/sing, “Clap along if you know what happiness is to you.” If you’re a traveler, happiness apparently is a hotel, judging by a J.D. Power report released Wednesday.

The 2014 North American Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study shows satisfaction with accommodation hit a record: 784 points on a 1,000-point scale.

Those hotels that ranked at the top of the scale by category and their scores:


-- Four Seasons (luxury, 886)

-- Kimpton Hotels (upper upscale, 847)

-- Hilton Garden Inn (upscale, 836)

-- Holiday Inn (mid-scale full service, 793)


-- Drury Hotels (mid-scale, for the ninth year in a row, 855)

-- Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham (economy/budget, 751)

-- Homewood Suites by Hilton (upper extended stay, 843)

-- Candlewood Suites (extended stay, 804)


The results were collected between June 2013 and May of this year from more than 67,000 respondents in the U.S. and Canada who had stayed in a hotel in North America between May of last year and May of this year.

So what irks hotel guests most? It’s not a stingy loyalty program or noise or long lines at the front desk; it’s cleanliness -- or lack thereof. Those guests who perceived their rooms as not clean generally were a whopping 213 points less satisfied than those who thought their rooms were clean.

And speaking of happy versus unhappy: Here’s an odd finding in the satisfaction study: Members of Gen Y, those born between 1977 and 1996, is highly critical of their hotel experience, but they are also very loyal, said Rick Garlick, global practice lead for the travel and hospitality group at J.D. Power.

“They represent the future of the hotel-buying public,” Garlick said, “and the conventional wisdom is that Gen Y has no loyalty … to brands [and that] they are free agents to the highest bidder. That’s the conventional belief.


“It was interesting they were less satisfied overall with their experience than that of other generational groups. But at the same time, they are not less loyal.”

Another group that’s dissatisfied also is a surprise: those who buy based on price.

“A price shopper looking for best deal is always the least satisfied,” Garlick said. To someone who is price sensitive “anything is an affront,” he said.

A good deal at a luxury hotel, for instance, doesn’t necessarily mean a happy customer, especially if that customer has to pay for “parking, the Internet, breakfast,” Garlick said. That customer, he said, will say, “This is terrible.”


For hoteliers, thanks to a recovering economy, the good news is that there are fewer price shoppers out there. The group declined from 19% to 12% of customers.

They’ve been replaced by a group called scrutinizers, the ones who do their homework and shop and look at ratings and tend to be happier with their hotel.

“An informed consumer,” Garlick said, “is a happier consumer.”

Follow Hamm on Twitter at @CatHamm.