The economy is picking up, and with rising incomes and better job prospects, business is on the upswing once again for the hotel industry. However, as far as industry professionals go, a dent in this good picture has been revealed, and they have reason to be concerned. According to a popular survey, customers across the US are significantly less satisfied than last year with hotel services and facilities.
The customer satisfaction statistics released by the J.D. Power and Associates 2011 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study are quite revealing. According to this survey, 18% of all customers this year have been dissatisfied with some aspect of their stay and hotel services. The most common problems have been unreliable internet connections and too much noise.
16% of all the hotel guests who took the survey said that they were disturbed by noise levels. Surprisingly, however, only 43% of customers that expressed dissatisfaction with hotel services reported it to the hotel authorities. Furthermore, 13% of the customers reported that they had trouble with their internet connection. Once again, though, 40% of these people did not report their problem.
Guests reported various other problems too, and according to Stuart Greif, vice president at J.D. Power and Associates, this rising dissatisfaction with hotel services is no surprise. He explained that with the economy picking up, occupancy is rising, and guests are no longer getting the perks they got during the recession phase. The best rooms are not always available, the gym is fully occupied in the morning and the ambience is not as quiet as before.
This is only part of the picture, however. The study also reveals that guests are happier than last year with the overall cost and fees associated with hotel stay, in spite of the fact that rates have gone up. This is not a big surprise either, considering that hotels have been very cautious about increasing prices. The changes have been marginal, unlike several other industries, especially the airline industry. As a result, currently a hotel stay costs less than what people would expect to pay.
The bad news is that with customers more than satisfied with hotel prices, there is room for increase. A rise in rates seems to be round the corner. However, while this is likely to pinch customers in the coming year, hotels will be determined to provide better customer satisfaction. In fact, experts feel that customers should take some of the responsibility for their own satisfaction, by consistently reporting any problem with hotel services to the front office.
Mark Schwartz, who is the director of the global hospitality and travel practice at J.D. Power and Associates, emphasizes this point. He says that “hotel staff and management will usually try their best to resolve these issues, particularly since they understand that solving a problem can result in a happier, more loyal customer.” It is hard to argue with that. Very often, the road to improvement for any hotel is working on customer feedback. After all, keeping guests satisfied and comfortable is the ultimate aim of hotel services and hospitality.