Hotel guest satisfaction has reached its highest level since J.D. Power revised its methodology in 2006, according to the J.D. Power 2014 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study.
The study, now in its 18th year, measures overall guest satisfaction across eight hotel segments: luxury; upper upscale; upscale; midscale full service; midscale; economy/budget; upper extended stay; and extended stay. Seven key factors are examined in each segment to determine overall satisfaction: reservation; check-in/check-out; guest room; food and beverage; hotel services; hotel facilities; and cost and fees.
Overall satisfaction in 2014 averages 784 points on a 1000-point scale, up 27 points from 2012, with significant improvement in all segments except upper extended stay and extended stay, where satisfaction remains stable. The midscale segment posts the largest year-over-year improvement, increasing by 10 points to 801, which is the first time satisfaction in the segment has surpassed 800 points.
The study finds that Gen Y guests (Millennials) are more critical of their hotel stay but, despite popular sentiment, not necessarily less loyal. Among Gen Y guests whose stay at the hotel they evaluated was their first experience with the brand, overall satisfaction is 29 points lower than among those who have a previous experience with the brand they evaluated (758 vs. 787, respectively).
"By improving the brand experience for first-time Gen Y guests, there is a substantial opportunity for hotels to gain a pool of satisfied, committed guests who will be loyal for years to come," said Rick Garlick, global travel and hospitality practice lead for J.D. Power. "We also find that satisfaction is more than 300 points lower among Gen Y guests who have a low opinion of staff than among Gen Y guests who have a high opinion of the hotel staff, while that difference is much smaller among those in other generation groups. Hoteliers have the opportunity to improve both satisfaction and loyalty rates by simply focusing on improving their staff interactions with Gen Y guests."
Among the study's key findings:
- Hotel brands that are perceived as being exciting and trendsetters receive the highest number of positive recommendations, while those perceived as environmentally careless receive the highest number of negative comments.
- The proportion of Price Buyers-hotel guests who select their hotel brand primarily based on price-has fallen by a significant 7%age points from 2013 (19% vs. 12%, respectively). Price Buyers are among the least satisfied of the guest groups.
- The proportion of Scrutinisers-those who thoroughly research their hotel choices through online travel review sites and other sources-has increased to 10% in 2014 from 7% last year. Notably, the Scrutiniser group has the largest number of highly committed guests to a hotel brand.
- Among all the problems experienced by guests, rooms that are not clean has the greatest negative impact on satisfaction (213 points).
- Challenges with Internet connectivity remain twice as prevalent as any other guest problem. The negative impact of these problems is relatively consistent regardless of whether Internet access is complimentary or guests have to pay an additional fee for it.