Where there's smoke, there's an unhappy European

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on October 20, 2006

As hotel brands in other parts of the world adopt smoke-free environments as their latest marketing strategy, the majority of European guests say they would also prefer smoke-free hotels, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2006 European Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study.

The study found that nearly 70% of hotel guests in Europe prefer a smoke-free environment beyond the boundaries of their room, only slightly fewer than hotel guests in North America (79%). The desire for a smoke-free environment ranges from 57% in Spain to a high of 76% in Sweden and the United Kingdom.

In need of a leader
According to Linda Hirneise, executive director of the travel practice at J.D. Power and Associates, "As we've seen so far in the United States and Canada, non-smoking hotel environments are also slated to be very popular in Europe, and the hotel brand that serves as a trailblazer in the European market will have an extremely beneficial competitive advantage."

For example, earlier in 2006, all Westin Hotels & Resort properties in the US, Canada and the Caribbean implemented a policy of 100% smoke-free guest rooms and public areas. And in September 2006, Marriott International also went smoke-free in its US and Canadian properties. It is purely a matter of time, Hirneise feels, before the smoke-free trend dominates the European market.

What do guests want?
Among 37 possible amenities and services, complimentary breakfast is the single most important amenity for hotel guests in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Sweden. In the United Kingdom, complimentary breakfast follows the coffee/tea maker as the most important amenity.

High-speed internet access is also considered a must-have for European hotel guests. Guests within the upper upscale, upscale and mid-scale full service segments also consider wireless internet access an absolute must-have.

Best in class
The study, now in its second year, measured the overall satisfaction of European hotel guests based on seven factors: reservations, check-in/check-out, guest room, food and beverage, hotel services, hotel facilities, and costs and fees. Forty-five hotel brands were measured and ranked in four segments, including upper upscale, upscale, mid-scale full service and economy.

  • Upper upscale
    Steigenberger Hotels & Resorts ranks highest in the upper upscale segment, receiving top ratings from guests in all seven key factors of guest satisfaction. Sheraton/Arabella Sheraton follows Steigenberger, and Hilton Hotels ranks third in the segment.
  • Upscale
    Among upscale hotel brands, Radisson SAS Hotels & Resorts ranks highest in guest satisfaction. Radisson receives highest ratings in check-in/check out, guest room, hotel services, and cost and fees. Courtyard and Copthorne Hotels, respectively, follow Radisson SAS Hotels & Resorts.
  • Mid-scale
    With segment-leading performances in reservations, check-in/check-out, food and beverage, hotel services, hotel facilities and guest room, Dorint Hotels & Resorts ranks highest among mid-scale full service hotel brands. Express by Holiday Inn follows Dorint, and Scandic Hotels ranks third in the segment.
  • Economy
    In the economy segment, Tulip Inns ranks highest with top ratings from guests in hotel facilities, guest room, check-in/check-out, and food and beverage. Premier Travel Inn follows Tulip Inns in the rankings and performs particularly well in reservations, and cost and fees.

Online booking trend
The study also noted that nearly 50% of guests book their hotel reservations online - up from 34% in 2005. Independent Web sites (such Expedia and Hotels.com) are continuously losing market share to hotel brand web sites, with hotel guests now being twice as likely to book reservations through a hotel brand web site.

The study was based on responses from 12,090 guests who stayed at a hotel in Europe between June 2006 and September 2006.

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