Last updated: 12:24 PM ET, Thu July 14 2016

JD Power Study Reveals the State of Hotel Guest Satisfaction in 2016

Hotel & Resort | Patrick Clarke | July 13, 2016

JD Power Study Reveals the State of Hotel Guest Satisfaction in 2016

PHOTO: The Ritz-Carlton, Herzliya. (Photo courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton).

The J.D. Power 2016 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study was released Wednesday, highlighting the industry's top brands across eight different segments and shedding light on what guests expect from a hotel in 2016.

While the study found that guest satisfaction increased two points from 2015 to an average of 806 on a 1,000-point scale, the jump is much smaller than compared to past years.

Nonetheless 2016 represents the fourth consecutive year that guest satisfaction has improved.

The study, which has been around for two decades, examines seven different measures across each segment to determine overall guest satisfaction. The measurement categories include reservation; check-in/check-out; guest room; food and beverage; hotel services; hotel facilities and cost and fees. 

Perhaps the biggest reason for the minimal improvement in overall satisfaction in 2016 is the lack of satisfaction with cost and fees, which only improved by one point this year, compared to 25 points between 2014 and 2015.

READ MORE: ACSI Report Finds Hotel Guest Satisfaction Down in 2016

"Customers have responded well to the enhanced offerings provided by some hotel brands to create value, but as those perks become standard, customers are quick to ask, 'What have you done for me lately?'" said J.D. Power's global travel and hospitality practice lead Rick Garlick in a statement. "When guests no longer see added value in the quality of amenities they receive, the only option to truly differentiate a brand is to develop a strong service culture that makes guests feel special and appreciated."

Which Brands are Succeeding?

One brand that's excelling at making guests feel special is The Ritz-Carlton, which finished tops in the luxury segment for the second consecutive year, edging out Four Seasons and JW Marriott with the highest score in the study's history at 896.

Other repeat winners include Omni Hotels & Resorts (upper upscale), Wingate by Wyndham (midscale), Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham (economy) and Drury Hotels, which finished tops in the upper midscale segment for the 11th straight year in 2016.

READ MORE: What Are Americans' Favorite Hotel Chains?

Meanwhile, Hilton Garden Inn narrowly edged out Marriott's SpringHill Suites by one point in the upscale segment, earning an overall guest satisfaction score of 844 and surpassing 2015 leader Hyatt Place, which fell to third.

Hyatt House (upper extended stay) and Home2 Suites by Hilton (extended stay) rounded out the top eight finishers for 2016. The two brands overtook 2015 leaders Homewood Suites by Hilton and Candlewood Suites, respectively.

Up until this year Homewood Suites by Hilton had held down the upper extended stay segment for three straight years.

What Guests Like, Don't Like

Among the eight segments measured, the luxury category showed the most improvement in 2016, improving by a dozen points overall in large part because of a 20-point rise in guest satisfaction with cost and fees.

Unsurprisingly, the study shows that guests who are loyalty rewards program members tend to be more satisfied than non-members. Interestingly, though, younger guests are less likely to be members, with only 39 percent of Gen Y guests having signed up for a membership.

By comparison, 56 percent of Gen X guests and 66 percent of Baby Boomer guests belong to a hotel loyalty rewards program.

READ MORE: Which Hotel Brands Deliver the Best Customer Experience?

"We're finding that every succeeding generation seems to be less likely to be a member of a hotel rewards program than the one before," added Garlick. "As we've seen across numerous industries that J.D. Power tracks, younger guests in particular are especially driven by the value proposition, underscoring the importance for hotel brands to make a stronger case for the benefits of loyalty to these travelers."

The study also found that only a small fraction of guests (3 percent) are utilizing online or mobile check-in features. However satisfaction with the check-in process is highest among this group of guests.

Guests also revealed the four most coveted amenities to be free Wi-Fi, breakfast, parking and premium bedding and linens. 

Of the four amenities, the study found complimentary Wi-Fi service to be the most common one offered, with luxury linens being the toughest to come by.

Looking forward, it appears the prospect of improved guest satisfaction will hinge on brands' ability to offer enhanced services and amenities as hotel guests have come to expect perks that were once considered special.

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