Accenture Hospitality’s Global Consumer Pulse Research indicates there is a low level of loyalty to any one hotel brand as indicated by their survey of nearly 13,000 customers in 32 countries.
41% of customers state finding travel deals is their primary motivation in choosing a hotel or lodging.
Perhaps I should change my brand name to DealTraveler.com, but that Twitter handle is already taken.
Hotel and lodging customers have the highest satisfaction level at 36% (compared to who else?), indicating there is an appreciation of hotels. Despite a generally favorable attitude to hotels, there is a stagnation in loyalty.
75% of customers have stayed with two or more companies in the past three years and only 14% have been loyal to one hotel company.
No wonder the changes to loyalty programs over the past two years have focused on improving the benefits for the top tier elite guests like SPG suite nights for 50+ nights a year customers.
More award options available at fewer points like Hilton HHonors Points & Money and Hyatt Gold Passport Points + Cash awards helps attract the masses who find more value in their points with lower cost award choices.
I am asked regularly which hotel chain is the best. My response is typically the hotel chain that best fits your travel style.
Some people want the pampering associated with luxury hotel brands like Ritz-Carlton, InterContinental and St. Regis hotels. Personally I find all the attention annoying and it makes me uncomfortable to have someone standing around ready to jump at my whim to provide a service (and generally that service is accompanied with an exorbitant fee).
Other travelers want lots of locations, free internet and free breakfast.
My main desire is a comfortable, firm bed and soft pillows. These days nearly all hotels I have stayed have great beds whether in the midscale or luxury hotel segment. Luxury hotels tend to stand out with great bedding and sheets that feel nice against the body. Pillows are the one area that tend to be lesser quality in lower brand hotels.
I travel with my own feather pillow when my car is with me.
Free internet is a strong desire, but I find the inconsistency with internet speed a problem at hotels, regardless if the hotel market segment is midscale or luxury. I have my own Verizon modem that makes life on the road much more consistent with my own internet service. And far more security than logging onto free wireless at restaurants and hotels.
Breakfast is a big factor for maintaining high elite with SPG, Hyatt, Marriott and Hilton. The full scale hotels like Marriott and Hilton with the $20 to $30 breakfast is too much to pay when I am staying on a $100 hotel night and I just paid $25 to park my car. I am staying at a full-scale Marriott this weekend on a $67 rate. That rate can easily double between the car parking fee and breakfast at the hotel.
Hyatt’s breakfast benefit for Diamond members and a guest is a major loyalty attraction.
Free breakfast among the midscale chains is a bonus offer, but I seriously tire of eating scrambled eggs, bacon, toast, cereal and muffins every day when I am hitting Fairfield Inn, Hampton Inn and Holiday Day Inn Express day after day on a road trip. Fresh fruit is generally limited at these free breakfast buffets.
In 2010 when I presented at the ChicagoDO about hotel loyalty, one of my three main pieces of advice was go for top elite status. Three years ago the rate difference between luxury hotels and midscale hotels was probably near a record low. The value in getting free upgrades to higher category rooms at an upper-upscale or luxury hotel can be a $200 per night benefit.
These days luxury hotel prices are astronomical. Upper upscale hotel deals are harder to find and $200 per night for an average room rate with many hotel brands is money that could go a lot farther in other areas of my travel and life.
Personally, I find myself feeling much less loyalty and far more interest in locating great hotel deals. Best Rate Guarantee claims have been my primary strategy for 2013. Tonight’s stay is a free night at a Holiday Inn courtesy of Travelocity’s lower rate and IHG’s Best Price Guarantee.
Today I will be traveling Highway 1 down the California coast on my way to San Diego. I’ll likely be tweeting far more than usual to share photos of the golden state in golden sunshine.
I feel sorry for all you travelers getting hit with nasty weather. The next week is forecast to be 60s and 70s from Monterey to San Diego as we feel the winter sun warmth under clear skies in coastal California.
Today I plan to photograph elephant seals at Piedras Blancas and then tour Hearst Castle.
Happy holidays from the The Loyalty ‘Deal’ Traveler.