Hotels with Highest, Lowest Guest Satisfaction

Some aspects of the hotel experience have reached new lows when it comes to guest satisfaction.

As the hotel industry continues to recover from the economic downturn and rates rise accordingly, it seems hotels may be taking a cue from the airlines: Charge more, provide less. That's according to a study from J.D. Power and Associates of nearly 62,000 American and Canadian hotel guests between August 2011 and May 2012.

The study, now in its 16th year, examines guest satisfaction across luxury, upper upscale, upscale, mid-scale full service, mid-scale limited service, economy/budget and extended stay hotels. Within each segment: reservations, check-in/check-out, guest room, food and beverage, hotel services, hotel facilities and costs and fees are considered.

Overall guest satisfaction has declined since 2011. Satisfaction with check-in/check-out, food and beverage, hotel services and hotel facilities are at new lows since 2006. Satisfaction with guest rooms has also declined significantly.

"As the industry continues to recover and rates increase, hoteliers need to get back to the fundamentals and improve the overall guest experience," said Stuart Greif, vice president and general manager of the global travel and hospitality practice at J.D. Power and Associates. "Charging guests more and providing less is not a winning combination from a guest satisfaction perspective, much less a winning business strategy. In short, hoteliers are falling further behind and need to catch up."

It seems the staff might be the key to hotel success, at least as success relates to customer happiness. Satisfaction is significantly higher among guests with a high opinion of hotel staff. It's also good for business: These guests are more likely to use various hotel services, such as eating at a hotel restaurant.

Internet and WiFi access also play a big part in guest satisfaction. Hotels that charge for access have a lower satisfaction rate than properties that have free access or include it in the room rate.

It turns out that how a person books their hotel stay may also be related to their satisfaction. The study found that guests who book their hotel stay with online travel agencies (Orbitz, Expedia and competitors) tend to be less satisfied with their stay then those who book directly with the hotel web site or over the phone. These travelers tend to be more price-sensitive, have lower levels of satisfaction with their stay, are less loyal to hotel brands and tend to report more problems.

Hotel brands that ranked highest in guest satisfaction in their respective segments:

  • Luxury: The Ritz-Carlton (for a third consecutive year)
  • Upper Upscale: Omni Hotels & Resorts
  • Upscale: Hilton Garden Inn and SpringHill Suites (in a tie)
  • Mid-Scale Full Service: Holiday Inn (for a second consecutive year)
  • Mid-Scale Limited Service: Drury Hotels (for a seventh consecutive year)
  • Economy/Budget: Jameson Inn
  • Extended Stay: Homewood Suites (for a third consecutive year)

Hotels that came in below average in satisfaction:

  • Loews Hotels (Luxury segment)
  • Grand Hyatt / Park Hyatt Hotels (Luxury segment)
  • Intercontinental Hotels and Resorts (Luxury segment)
  • DoubleTree by Hilton (Upper Upscale)
  • Sheraton Hotels and Resorts (Upper Upscale)
  • Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts (Upscale)
  • Delta Hotels & Resorts (Upscale)
  • Four Points by Sheraton (Upscale)
  • Radisson (Upscale)
  • Clarion (Mid Scale Full Service)
  • Quality (Mid Scale Full Service)
  • Ramada Inn / Plaza (Mid Scale Full Service)
  • Howard Johnson Hotels / Plaza (Mid Scale Full Service)
  • AmericInn (Mid Scale Limited Service)
  • Sleep Inn (Mid Scale Limited Service)
  • Baymont Inn & Suites (Mid Scale Limited Service)
  • Comfort Inn (Mid Scale Limited Service)
  • Ramada Limited (Mid Scale Limited Service)
  • Americas Best Value Inn (Economy / Budget)
  • Rodeway Inn (Economy / Budget)
  • Knights Inn (Economy / Budget)
  • Homestead Studio Suites Hotel (Extended Stay)
  • Extended Stay America (Extended Stay)