J.D. Power: Hotels Must Turn Attention to Services

COSTA MESA, CA—Across the board, hotels are making their customers happier than ever, according to the J.D. Power 2018 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index (NAGSI) Study, released today. Driven by increased approval of guestrooms and hotel facilities, overall satisfaction for the industry increases eight points to 825 (on a 1,000-point scale).

“Hotels in all price ranges have excelled at ensuring their customers have a top-notch experience,” said Jennifer Corwin, associate practice lead for the global travel and hospitality practice at J.D. Power. “Years of capital investment in offerings such as higher-end televisions and in-room tablets have left their mark. Now, as hotels look to push customer satisfaction levels higher, their focus should turn to service areas, particularly when it comes to direct booking.”

Service areas also are improving, but at a slower rate. According to Corwin, in consideration of economic cycles, hotels should emphasize refining their service effort, which represents greater opportunity for improvement and requires less investment than capital improvements.

Now in its 22nd year, the study is designed to help hoteliers add focus and clarity to product and service improvement efforts that matter most to their guests. The study measures overall guest satisfaction across eight hotel segments: luxury; upper-upscale; upscale; upper-midscale; midscale; economy; upper extended-stay and extended-stay. Seven key factors are examined in each segment to determine overall satisfaction: reservation; check-in/checkout; guestroom; food and beverage; hotel services; hotel facilities; and cost and fees.

Following are some key findings of the 2018 study:

  • Up, up and up: Compared with 2017 results, the greatest improvement in overall satisfaction occurs in the upper-midscale segment (+12 points on a 1,000-point scale). A seven point increase is posted in the luxury, upper-upscale, upscale and midscale segments, while a six point improvement is found in the upper extended-stay, extended-stay and economy segments.
  • Flying high: The Ritz-Carlton scores 902, up 14 points from last year and the highest ever for a brand in the study. The Ritz-Carlton is at the top in five of the seven factors in the luxury segment. Similarly, Drury Hotels scores 895, also up 15 points from last year and the third-highest score of any brand. Drury Hotels ranks highest in the upper-midscale segment across all seven factors. Both brands have high levels of consumer loyalty and advocacy, with 70% or more of guests stating they “definitely will” recommend the brand to someone else, and more than half of guests saying they “definitely will” stay at that hotel chain again.
  • Technology offerings are important: Technology is becoming more pervasive in the guest experience, specifically in guestrooms. Adding capabilities has a clear association with higher guest satisfaction, but this plateaus as offerings become standard. Consider that 77% of guests surveyed say a large flat-panel television was available in their rooms, but only 10% have a tablet for in-room information. The former is worth a 12-point lift, while the latter is worth a much larger 47-point increase. Mobile app adoption generates a 58-point increase in 2018, compared with a 65-point increase in 2017.
  • Service satisfaction increases at a lesser rate: While on the rise, hotel services satisfaction continues to be outpaced by the growth in product satisfaction. Guestroom and hotel facilities satisfaction, which are primarily product-focused, are increasing at a greater rate than any other factor (13 and 11 points, respectively). The factor areas with the highest level of staff touchpoints (check-in/checkout and food and beverage) have improved the least (five and seven points, respectively), which coincides with a smaller improvement in cost and fees (five points).
  • Think local, act local: Providing authentic local experiences has increasingly become an important focus of the hotel industry as a means of providing a unique, destination-specific feel to a hotel room. While providing an authentic local experience in food and beverage is essential, more guests experience the guestroom decor and hotel facilities. Focusing on delivering a location-specific feel can cause a greater lift to overall satisfaction.

Study Rankings

The following hotel brands rank highest in guest satisfaction in their respective segments:

Luxury: The Ritz-Carlton (for the fourth consecutive year)

Upper-upscale: Kimpton Hotels

Upscale: Hilton Garden Inn (for the third consecutive year)

Upper-midscale: Drury Hotels (for the 13th consecutive year)

Midscale: Wingate by Wyndham (for the fourth consecutive year)

Economy: Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham

Upper extended-stay: Staybridge Suites (for the second consecutive year)

Extended-stay: Home2 Suites by Hilton