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J.D. Power & Associates 2012 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study

The results of the 16th annual rankings of hotel brands in North America was realeased today by J.D. Power & Associates. The 2012 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study is based on responses gathered between August 2011 and May 2012 from more than 61,700 guests from the United States and Canada who stayed in a hotel in North America between June 2011 and May 2012.

A HotelNewsNow article quotes Stuart Greif, VP and GM of the global travel and hospitality practice at J.D. Power & Associates with some study background on the Hotel Guest Satisfaction Study that specifically appealed to me:

“Our Ph.Ds literally run tens of thousands of progressions to learn what matters most to guests … This is a much more predictive model of behavior … It’s not just a pop quiz or taking a poll,” Greif said.

Hotel News Now – “Guest satisfaction falls as travel increases” July 25, 2012


Key findings from J.D. Power & Associates:

  • Guest satisfaction with hotels in North America is near lowest levels in last 7 years.
  • Cost and fees associated with hotel travel weigh heavily on guest satisfaction. Internet fees and resort fees at hotels are a major source of dissatisfaction. (I did not see reference to parking fees in the Index Study, but that is also a major annoyance for travelers like me.)

“Seven key measures are examined within each segment to determine overall satisfaction:

  • reservations
  • check-in/check-out
  • guest room
  • food and beverage
  • hotel services
  • hotel facilities
  • costs and fees.”

Satisfaction with check-in/check-out; food and beverage; hotel services; and hotel facilities are at new lows since the 2006 study and satisfaction with guest room has declined within one point of its lowest level in the past seven years.

J.D. Power & Associates

2012 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study

Loyalty Matters 

Another finding of the 2012 North America Hotel Guest study is guest satisfaction is higher among members of loyalty programs.

“Advocacy and loyalty rates are also much higher among guests with a high opinion of the hotel staff. These guests are also more likely to use various hotel services, such as eating at a hotel restaurant,” said Jessica McGregor, senior manager of the global travel and hospitality practice at J.D. Power and Associates.

Hotel Internet Access statistics

  • 55% of guests use the internet during their hotel stay (only 20% in 2006).
  • 87% of guests use WiFi to connect to internet at hotels.
  • 11% of internet users were charged access fee at hotel.
  • Guests charged for internet have a significantly lower rating for hotel.
  • Luxury and upper upscale hotels are most likely to charge for internet.

Research conducted by J.D. Power’s Consumer Insight & Strategy Group1 to track social media activity finds that:

  • Hotels that charge extra for Internet access are perceived as taking advantage of guests, especially given the number of places that offer this service for free.
  • While consumers use social media to complain about how slow Internet connections are at hotels, it is not uncommon for hotel guests to praise hotel brands that are known for fast, reliable Internet service.
  • While complaints about Internet fees charged by hotels are common, rolling Internet charges into a generic “resort fee” heightens resentment among hotel guests.
  • Loyalty club members have come to expect free Internet as a perk at their hotel of choice.

J.D. Power & Associates

2012 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study


Hotel Brand Winners by Hotel Market Segment

The following hotel brands rank highest in guest satisfaction within their respective segments:

I will cover hotel brands in each market segment of the J.D. Power & Associates 2012 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study in subsequent posts on Loyalty Traveler this week.

Priceline and Hotwire: Cheaper, but less satisfying

J.D. Power found guests who booked through Online Travel Agencies are less satisfied than guests who book through the hotel chain’s own channels.

Basically I think there are two kinds of hotel guests who book hotels purposefully with a strategic plan.

  • There are loyalty travelers who travel earning and burning hotel points.
  • There are opaque site bookers who get lower priced hotels on sites like Priceline and Hotwire.

My Loyalty Traveler tagline is “Hotel value for frequent guests.”

I like to save money. Priceline and Hotwire will save money on upper upscale hotels like a Westin, Hyatt, Marriott or Hilton.

I rarely use opaque bid sites like Priceline anymore since I generally have enough points for free rooms in high priced places and I find great value in using hotel loyalty promotions to build my hotel points account balances during the year when prices are not too high for hotels.

There is little value in using Online Travel Agency (OTA) sites in most other cases unless you are getting a hotel discount due to a travel package with airfare or car rental. The OTA site will not have a lower price than the hotel chain’s own websites. And if they do, then file a Best Rate Guarantee claim with the hotel chain and get the lower price and a bonus discount on the room rate or even a free night.

Working loyalty programs throughout the year allows me to replenish points while burning through my account balance when rates are higher than I want to pay. Balancing my earning with paid hotel stays and burning through points I have earned has kept me away from Priceline and Hotwire for the past five years.

My experience with Priceline and Hotwire bookings is I tend to receive less desirable rooms in a hotel. Even most 4-star and 5-star hotels have rooms with bad views and locations. These are the rooms that tend to be given to the opaque booking guest.

Even as a base member of a loyalty program I find that I am generally given a room with a view. And if I desire to change rooms when I don’t like the first room I was provided, the hotels tend to be more likely to change my room when I booked through their own website. Most desk clerks at major chain hotels can usually tell where you booked your room.

Link: J.D. Power & Associates – 2012 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study

Original Loyalty Traveler post link:

Ric Garrido, writer and content owner of Loyalty Traveler, shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. You can follow Loyalty Traveler on Twitter and Facebook and RSS feed.


  • Rich July 25, 2012

    What’s strange about internet access is that the more expensive hotels are the ones charging for it, while the cheaper hotels have free internet access and often free breakfst too. Go figure.

  • BWE July 25, 2012

    It would have been interesting to see how Park Hyatt did if they had separated it from Grand Hyatt.

  • sman July 25, 2012

    Hyatt gutted their program this year. I’m not surprised that that received no awards.

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