If you think hotels seem busy again, it’s not just your imagination.
Now that COVID-19 travel restrictions have been lifted and people are eager to travel once more after having paused many travel plans over the past 2 years, hotel occupancy rates are on track to approach pre-pandemic levels, according to a new study from research firm J.D. Power.
That doesn’t necessarily mean, however, that travelers are exceedingly pleased with their hotel stays. Indeed, demand may be up, but overall hotel guest satisfaction has dropped over the past year, mainly due to the cost and condition of the rooms, according to the J.D. Power 2022 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study.
“The phenomenon we’re seeing this year tracks closely with the rise in average daily room rates since late 2021, putting hotel property owners squarely in recovery mode,” Andrea Stokes, hospitality practice lead at J.D. Power, said in a statement. “During the fielding period of the study, the average daily rate for branded hotels has risen 34.8 percent. Many hotel owners and operators are using this post-pandemic surge in travel to get back on a steady financial footing, yet they held back on investing in upgrades and improvements during the pandemic.”
How The Study Was Conducted
The J.D. Power North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Study, which has been conducted for 26 years, measures guest satisfaction with the entire hotel experience — from reservation to check-out — based on a recent guest stay. That’s possible because the study’s participants are asked more than 150 questions regarding their experience at branded hotels in eight market segments: Luxury, upper upscale, upscale, upscale extended stay, upper midscale, upper midscale and midscale extended stay, midscale, and economy hotels.
This year’s study is based on responses from 34,407 participants who stayed in hotels between May 2021 and May 2022.
What The Study Found
The J.D. Power study identified a number of key factors leading to the decrease in overall hotel guest satisfaction over the past year.
For instance, as Stokes noted, the single biggest factor driving the decline in satisfaction is that travelers didn’t think the hotel rooms met their expectations. Hotel rates and fees may be up, but “hotel guests are feeling like they are paying more, but not getting more in return,” the study explains.
Specifically, hotels still get relatively high satisfaction scores when it comes to room cleanliness. The flip side of the coin is that scores for décor and furnishings, in-room amenities, and quality of bathrooms have all decreased since last year’s study.
Another example is Wi-Fi access. On the one hand, 81 percent of hotel guests accessed the internet in their hotel rooms. However, the percentage of guests who had to pay extra for that amenity increased four percentage points from the 2019 survey, further leading to guest dissatisfaction, the study notes.
Finally, hotel guests gave hotel staff high ratings for their courtesy. Then again, hotel staff is spread thin due to the industry labor shortage, which leads to fewer interactions with staff, including front desk staff and breakfast attendants. That reduced level of interaction further led to hotel guests’ dissatisfaction, J.D. Power explains.
About now, you’re probably wondering which hotels ranked highest in guest satisfaction in each of the market segments: Luxury, upper upscale, upscale, upscale extended stay, upper midscale, upper midscale and midscale extended stay, midscale, and economy hotels.
Here they are, the hotels with the highest guest satisfaction ranking, according to the J.D. Power 2022 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study.
- Luxury: The Ritz-Carlton received the highest guest satisfaction scores for the second year in a row.
- Upper Upscale: Hard Rock Hotels received the highest guest satisfaction scores for the second year in a row.
- Upscale: Hilton Garden Inn received the highest guest satisfaction scores.
- Upscale Extended Stay: Hyatt House received the highest guest satisfaction scores.
- Upper Midscale: Drury Hotels received the highest guest satisfaction scores for the 17th consecutive year.
- Upper Midscale/Midscale Extended Stay: Sonesta Simply Suites received the highest guest satisfaction scores.
- Midscale: Wingate by Wyndham received the highest guest satisfaction scores.
- Economy: WoodSpring Suites received the highest guest satisfaction scores.
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