— -- Pity Andrea Spears. The traveler from Eden Prairie, Minn., had an early-a.m. business meeting, leaped out of her hotel bed when the alarm blared, jumped in the shower and started drying her hair, only to realize it was 3:15 a.m. — three hours before her planned wake-up. The buzzer she had responded to was actually in the room next door.
Or Nicole Snyder of Roseburg, Ore., who was jerked awake by a voice from a hotel corridor screaming "Open that exit! Open that exit!" Only after she had gathered her belongings to flee did she realize the clamor came from a class of flight attendants who were practicing emergency drills in the hall.
These two tales are among the more than 600 submitted to YourNoisyNeighbor.com, a website contest run by AmericInn, a lodging chain that touts its soundproofing. Anyone can cast a vote through Sunday, and the grand-prize winner (who gets a $5,000 gift certificate) will be announced Oct. 29.
But it doesn't take a contest for travelers to sound off about noisy hotel stays or for lodgings to put more effort into turning rooms into cocoons for today's demanding guests.
Thin walls, loud neighbors, partiers and construction banging have ticked off almost anyone who has stayed in a hotel. Noise was the top complaint (ahead of room cleanliness) in the annual North American Hotel Guest Satisfaction Survey of 47,634 travelers recently released by J.D. Power and Associates.
A TripAdvisor online survey of 1,323 travelers, conducted last weekend for USA TODAY, found that 31% often have a problem with noise during a hotel stay, which was second only to dirty rooms as the biggest hotel annoyance. Disturbance by other guests or their TVs is the No. 1 source of noise irritation: 59.3% of respondents rated that more annoying than outside noise, construction sounds or housekeeping clatter.
Manhattan-based entertainer Melissa Errico, who is on the road frequently for singing and acting engagements, was in Cleveland last month to sing with the Cleveland Orchestra. When she checked into the InterContinental Hotel on Friday, "I asked for a quiet non-smoking room, and they put me in the back of the hotel," she says. "I checked my room and the view — and I did notice a building to the left that was unfinished, but it was a weekend, so I assumed there would be no construction."