As hotel guests increasingly come to expect amenities that used to be special perks, such as free Wi-Fi, complimentary breakfasts and premium bed linens, the industry may be reaching a customer satisfaction plateau, according to the J.D. Power 2016 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study,SM released today.
The study, now in its 20th year, measures overall guest satisfaction across eight hotel segments: luxury; upper upscale; upscale; upper midscale; midscale; economy/budget; upper extended stay; and extended stay.
Seven key measures are examined in each segment to determine overall satisfaction: reservation; check-in/check-out; guest room; food & beverage; hotel services; hotel facilities; and cost & fees. Satisfaction is calculated on a 1,000-point scale.
Although overall satisfaction has improved for a fourth consecutive year, increasing by 2 points from 2015 to average 806, this represents a much smaller increase than in recent years.
In past years, strong improvements in cost & fees played a key role in improving satisfaction overall. While satisfaction with cost & fees improved by 25 points between 2014 and 2015, this year it has improved by only 1 point.
“Customers have responded well to the enhanced offerings provided by some hotel brands to create value, but as those perks become standard, customers are quick to ask, ‘What have you done for me lately?’” said Rick Garlick, global travel and hospitality practice lead at J.D. Power.
“When guests no longer see added value in the quality of amenities they receive, the only option to truly differentiate a brand is to develop a strong service culture that makes guests feel special and appreciated.”
Interestingly, while satisfaction in most segments has remained flat, the luxury segment has improved by 12 points overall. Much of this improvement is attributed to a 20-point improvement in cost & fees.
“Despite luxury hotels typically being the most expensive, this segment has been able to show guests that they’re providing additional value, which is clearly resonating,” said Garlick.