ACSI Report Finds Hotel Guest Satisfaction Down in 2016
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The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) released the results of its 2016 Travel Report Tuesday, revealing a slight drop in hotel guest satisfaction as a result of the dropoff among smaller hotel chains.
According to the report, overall guest satisfaction fell 1.3 percent to 74 on the ACSI's 100-point scale.
While not ideal from the industry's perspective, the slight decline signals an opportunity to improve.
In the meantime let's review the hotel industry's winners and losers as well as what hotel guests are most and least happy with this year.
Hilton Worldwide, Marriott International and Hyatt Hotels saw minimal change in customer satisfaction this year, but nonetheless the three hotel giants remain the industry's top performers.
Hilton climbed one percent to a score of 81, Marriott went unchanged at 80 and Hyatt fell one percent to 79.
Despite finishing fourth, Starwood Hotels & Resorts must be considered a winner in 2016, having climbed three percent in customer satisfaction.
Interestingly, Starwood's impending merger with Marriott could actually have a negative impact on the two companies in terms of guest satisfaction, according to one expert.
"Historically, Starwood’s customer satisfaction performance has been uneven, and the chain typically doesn’t do as well as its upscale counterparts," ACSI Managing Director David VanAmburg said in a statement. "While the impending merger could give the combined entity more leverage against competitors, the path to consolidating operations may not be smooth and Starwood could pose a drag on Marriott’s strong guest satisfaction."
Of the individual hotel brands analyzed, Marriott's JW Marriott excelled with a score of 85, while Hilton’s Embassy Suites came in second with a score of 83. Hyatt Regency (82), and Marriott's Fairfield Inn & Suites (82) also surpassed the threshold for excellence in guest satisfaction.
While Wyndham Worldwide (70) and G6 Hospitality (65) both finished at the bottom in guest satisfaction in 2016, both hotel companies experienced solid improvement, climbing three percent to match Starwood for the best percentage change.
However the smaller chains, including Radisson and Red Roof Inn, were by far the biggest losers this year, dropping 4 percent to 72.
Unsurprisingly given the aforementioned scores, G6 Hospitality, Wyndham and Choice Hotels possessed the poorest performing brands in terms of customer satisfaction, with Motel 6 (65) and Super 8 (65) finishing in the basement behind Ramada (67), Days Inn (67), Quality Inn (68) and Econo Lodge (69).
It's worth noting that each of the lowest scoring brands are ecomomy or midscale chains.
Of the midscale brands, though, only Wyndham's Baymont Inn & Suites challenged the industry's best upscale brands, receiving a score of 80.
What Guests Like
Although hotel guests could be happier, they appear to be most pleased with the reservation (85) and check-in (84) process. Guests are also relatively satisfied with the quality of hotel staff (82) and cleanliness and comfort of their rooms (81).
Perhaps surprisingly, the report found that hotel guests are also more satisfied with hotel websites and call centers, with each earning a score above 80.
What Guests Don't Like
Of course there are some aspects of the industry that guests want to see improve in 2016.
Most notably, guests are more disappointed with hotel loyalty programs in 2016 compared to last year. Recently appreciated more than airline reward programs, hotel loyalty programs have experienced a massive 10 percent drop to 71.
In addition to these ever-changing programs, guests are slightly more displeased with hotel amenities, the quality of food service and in-room entertainment offerings.
Satisfaction with hotel amenities like pools and fitness centers is down five percent to 72 in 2016, happiness with the quality of food service is down five percent to 73 and satisfaction with in-room television and movie offerings has dipped two percent from 77 to 75.
If customer satisfaction is going to improve over the course of the next year it appears the industry, especially economy and midscale chains, will have to address these areas of weakness. Only time will tell whether they are successful.
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