Hotel guests dig Wi-Fi, free breakfasts

Hotel guests are big fans of
in-room Internet connectivity, according to a new survey.

The J.D. Power and Associates 2010
North America Guest Satisfaction Index Study was based on input from 53,000
guests that stayed at a hotel between May 2009 and June 2010.

Across the industry in North
America, 77 per cent said they use Wi-Fi compared to 55 per cent three years
ago. Most brands in the midscale segment now include net access within the room
rate, but elsewhere charges ranged from $4.95 to $20 per day.

Other amenities in the top five
included complimentary breakfast, bedding and pillow choices, pillow-top
mattresses and free parking.

Notable improvements

The study, now in its 14th year,
measures guests’ overall satisfaction across six hotel segments: luxury,
upscale, midscale full service, midscale limited service, economy and extended
stay. The company said that overall satisfaction scores were derived from reservations,
check-in and check-out, rooms, food and beverage, hotel services, facilities
and costs and fees. According to the 2010 report, most notable improvements
have been in costs and fees, reservations and guest rooms. Extended stay and midscale
full service hotels have shown the biggest increase in customer satisfaction,
said Mark Schwartz, director of the global hospitality and travel practice.

“Many hotel chains were able to
sustain relatively high satisfaction levels during the previous 12 months, despite
contending with revenue declines and cost pressures caused by the economic
downturn.

“As the industry recovers and guest
volumes increase, it will be critical for hotel chains to focus on effectively
managing and delivering consistently high levels of products and services. When
guests experience variation in service within a hotel property or across
different hotels within the same brand, there is a notable detrimental effect
on overall satisfaction.”

Online bookings

Online bookings have increased to
58 per cent during 2010 from 54 per cent last year. In general, booking through
the hotel’s own website was preferred to independent travel websites, with
extended stay properties most likely to be booked online and budget least
likely, added Mr Schwartz.

“Guests who make reservations
directly through the hotel—whether via phone or website—are notably more
satisfied with their overall experience than guests who book through an
independent travel website. “Most hotel guests who make reservations through an
independent travel website indicate they do so because of price. However, twice
as many guests experienced problems with their reservation when booking through
independent sites, compared with hotel brand websites.”

Other notable trends included
smoke-free environments – preferred by 87 per cent of guests – and 68 per cent
who said they were aware of hotels’ eco-conscious and conservation programmes.

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