J.D. Power: F&B, amenities key to top performance in management

Throughout the pandemic, hotel operators reduced staff and services as they adjusted to reduced demand. Guests often reacted negatively to these changes as evidenced by lower stay satisfaction in branded hotels operated by the top third-party management companies, according to the J.D. Power 2021 North America Third-Party Hotel Management Guest Satisfaction Benchmark. Driving the decline in guest satisfaction are food and beverage and staff service.

“As hotel demand increases, guests are expressing not just a desire, but an expectation of a return to brand standards,” said Andrea Stokes, hospitality practice lead, J.D. Power. “In the presence of lingering state and local restrictions and labor shortages, that can be a challenge for management companies. As we emerge from the worst of the pandemic, third-party operators have an opportunity to incorporate guest feedback into policies and training to ensure that staff can manage through these challenges without sacrificing guest service.”

The benchmark, which evaluates guest satisfaction with branded hotels that are operated by the largest third-party management companies, finds that guest satisfaction remains stable for amenities such as WiFi, pools and fitness centers. Perceptions of value for money also are unchanged compared with the pre-pandemic benchmark released in 2020.

The 2021 benchmark consists of six factors (in alphabetical order): arrival/departure; cost and fees; food and beverage; guestroom; hotel facilities; and services and amenities. The benchmark includes third-party operators with more than 14,000 rooms under management and is based on 3,085 guest responses for branded hotel stays from May 2020 through June 2021.

Benchmark ranking
Atrium Hospitality ranks highest in overall customer satisfaction, with a score of 863 (on a 1,000-point scale). The company performs particularly well in the factors for food and beverage; services and amenities; hotel facilities; and cost and fees. White Lodging (858) ranks second and Crestline Hotels & Resorts (855) ranks third. Rounding out the top five are Concord Hospitality (851) and HEI Hotels & Resorts and Highgate Hotels (both with 850).

Crescent Hotel & Resorts, with a score of 842, is the only other management company that ranks above the benchmark average of 841.

“Being recognized by hotel guests for performing our job with excellence is always rewarding but especially so during the unique conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Daniel Abernethy, president, Atrium Hospitality, on his company’s top ranking. “This incredible honor awarded to Atrium Hospitality by J.D. Power illuminates the central role of our hardworking, dedicated team members in maintaining exceptional guest experiences.”

He added, “I express my heartfelt appreciation to our Atrium family members across the country for their continued perseverance in being examples of our core values in action. I’m continuously impressed by our associates’ enthusiasm for expanding their skill sets as we work to exceed all guests’ expectations. There is a genuine spirit of teamwork throughout our Atrium-managed national hotel portfolio as we provide clean, safe stays and reimagined gatherings.”