Guests who book directly on a hotel chain’s Web site report significantly higher satisfaction with their stay than those who make their reservations through an independent travel site, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2004 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index StudySM released today.
“Consumers have become increasingly savvy in doing the research to get the best deal on a hotel stay, whether that means shopping several Web sites or by calling the hotel directly,” said Linda Hirneise, partner and executive director of the hotel practice at J.D. Power and Associates. “Hotel chains are capitalizing on this by guaranteeing the lowest rates on their own sites, which pays off in higher satisfaction ratings. However, independent sites offer the convenience of allowing consumers to compare prices and amenities among a number of brands, which is still highly attractive to shoppers.”
The study finds that the number of consumers who booked a hotel reservation online has increased more than 50 percent over 2003 among those who have Internet access. More than one in three (36%) guests booked their hotel reservations using the Internet in 2004—up from 20 percent in 2003. Guests at extended stay hotels are the most likely to book online (43%), while economy/budget guests are least likely (33%). Overall, guests are more likely to book through the hotel’s Web site than an independent travel site.
The study, now in its eighth year, incorporates a new index model for 2004, measuring satisfaction based on six factors (in order of importance): guest room, check-in/check-out, costs and fees, hotel facilities, food and beverage, and hotel services.M
The study finds a strong correlation between satisfaction with the comfort of the bed, which is a key attribute of the guest room factor, and a guest’s likelihood to return to the same hotel.
“A growing number of hotel chains are heavily marketing a good night’s sleep through enhanced beds,” said Hirneise. “Several companies, specifically in the luxury and upscale segments, have aggressively replaced traditional beds with pillow-top mattresses, additional pillows, a higher quality of linens and other amenities. This has paid off for brands such as The Ritz-Carlton, Westin Hotels & Resorts and W Hotels, which receive the highest ratings from guests for the comfort of the bed.”
The study also finds that the number of guests reporting a significant problem with their stay is at a four-year low across all six hotel segments. An average of 8 percent to 10 percent of hotel guests currently report a significant problem during their hotel stay—down from 14 percent to 21 percent in 2003.
“The highest levels of customer satisfaction come from problem prevention, not problem resolution,” said Hirneise.
Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts returns to the highest-ranked position among luxury hotels with top ratings in five out of the six measures of guest satisfaction: check-in/check-out, guest room, food and beverage, hotel services, and costs and fees.
Westin Hotels & Resorts ranks highest in the upscale segment, surpassing perennial leader Embassy Suites and Hotels, which previously led the upscale segment three years in a row. Westin receives the highest ratings for the guest room and hotel facilities.
Mid-Scale Full Service Segment
Hilton Garden Inn ranks highest in the segment for the third consecutive year, with top ratings from guests in the guest room, food and beverage, hotel services and hotel facilities.
Mid-Scale Limited Service Segment
Wingate Inn has become a standout in the industry due to steady improvements over the past three years. Wingate Inn ranks highest in its segment, with top ratings in check-in/check-out, guest room, food and beverage, hotel facilities, and costs and fees. Wingate Inn also achieves the third-highest overall index score in the study, following luxury brands Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts and The Ritz-Carlton.
Microtel Inns & Suites ranks highest in the economy/budget segment for the third consecutive year, with top ratings in check-in/check-out, guest room, hotel facilities, and costs and fees.
Extended Stay Segment
Candlewood Suites and Homewood Suites by Hilton rank highest in a tie in the extended stay segment. Candlewood Suites leads the segment in hotel services and costs and fees, while Homewood Suites receives the highest ratings in check-in/check-out, guest room, food and beverage, and hotel facilities.
The 2004 North America Guest Satisfaction Index Study is based on responses from 29,424 guests who stayed in a hotel between December 2003 and June 2004.