Skip to main content

Study: Hotel guest satisfaction drops

By A. Pawlowski, CNN
Overall satisfaction is down, but guests are happier with hotel costs and fees, despite rising room rates.
Overall satisfaction is down, but guests are happier with hotel costs and fees, despite rising room rates.
  • Study finds guests are less happy with hotel facilities and services than last year
  • But guests are more satisfied with hotel costs and fees, despite rising room rates
  • About 18% of guests report having experienced a problem during their visit
  • Ritz-Carlton ranks highest in luxury category; Homewood Suites tops in extended stay

(CNN) -- Guests have rising expectations for hotels, but their overall satisfaction with their home away from home is dropping, a new survey finds.

Customers are less happy with hotel facilities and services than last year, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2011 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study released on Wednesday.

One reason for the lower marks? Rooms are filling up in greater numbers as the economy improves and guests may be missing the perks they saw during the industry's lean times.

"As occupancy rises, some of the benefits guests enjoyed during lower occupancy levels decline," said Stuart Greif, a vice president at J.D. Power and Associates.

"Lines at check-in are longer now; the nicer rooms may no longer be available for upgrades; and it is slightly harder to find a spare treadmill in the gym in the morning."

But surprisingly, guests are more satisfied with hotel costs and fees compared to last year, despite rising room rates.

Unlike the airline industry, which has aggressively raised prices during the past 12 months, hoteliers have been more modest and careful about price increases, Greif said.

The bad news -- at least for customers? Hotels may have been "far too modest" in raising rates, according to the study.

"Even though prices are higher than in the past, they are still below levels that guests would expect them to be, given the economic recovery," Greif said.

Translation: There's room for even higher rates.

What's the problem?

Many things can go wrong or be annoying when you stay at a hotel, so it's not surprising that almost one fifth, or 18%, of guests reported having experienced a problem during their visit, according to the study.

But some irritations appear to be much more tolerable than others.

For example, noise is the most common problem experienced by guests: 16% said they had been bothered by it. But only 43% of these guests said they complained about the noise to hotel staff.

Meanwhile, 13% of guests said they experienced a problem with the Internet connection or speed at their hotel, and 60% of them reported it.

Experts say you should always let the front desk know about any issues.

"Hotel guests should feel justified in reporting any problem that negatively impacts their satisfaction with a hotel," said Mark Schwartz, director of the global hospitality and travel practice at J.D. Power and Associates.

"Hotel staff and management will usually try their best to resolve these issues, particularly since they understand that solving a problem can result in a happier, more loyal customer."

Who is tops?

When it came to individual hotel chains, the study included these findings:

• The Ritz-Carlton ranked highest in overall satisfaction in the luxury hotel category for a second consecutive year, followed by Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, and W Hotels.

• In the upper upscale segment, Embassy Suites Hotels, Omni Hotels and Marriott Hotels claimed the top three spots.

• Hotel Indigo, Hyatt Place and Hilton Garden Inn ranked highest in the upscale category.

• Holiday Inn was rated tops in the midscale full service segment, while Drury Inn & Suites got the thumbs-up in the midscale limited service segment for a sixth consecutive year.

• Guests staying at economy hotels were most satisfied with Microtel Inns & Suites for the 10th year in a row, followed by Howard Johnson Express/Inns and Days Inn.

• In the extended stay category, Homewood Suites, Residence Inn and Staybridge Suites topped the list.

Click here for the full results

The study was based on responses from more than 61,300 people who stayed in a hotel in North America between May 2010 and May 2011.