July 21, 2011
Luxury hotel chains Ritz-Carlton and the Four Seasons top the charts in overall customer satisfaction, according to a recent survey from J.D. Power and Associates.
Ritz-Carlton earned the highest ranking of 858 out of 1,000 points and received five gold circles from consumers while the Four Seasons was a close second place, with a ranking of 852 and four gold circles. Despite increased room costs and fees, customers were still rather pleased with the rates at hotels, according to the survey.
“The occupancy in hotels is still relatively low and hotels want customers to get back to the property, so they have been lowering fees because they are afraid that they will lose customers to the competition,” said Stuart Greif, vice president and general manager of global travel and hospitality at J.D. Power, West Lake Village, CA.
“Guests who come back from the recession still see these prices as relatively low, and that’s why they are more satisfied with the costs and fees,” he said. “On the other hand, hotels may have cut back on things such as maintenance or facilities due to an inconsistent revenue stream.
“Customers are unhappy because they expect the facilities and everything else to be as good as it was before the recession, but hotels may have lapsed a little, and there is no reason for them to make improvements to the facilities or hire more people until they are sure that there is sustainable revenue.”
The 15th J.D. Power 2011 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Survey measures seven hotel segments: luxury, upper upscale, upscale, mid-scale full-service, mid-scale limited-service, economy/budget and extended stay.
The results were gathered from more than 61,300 guests in the United States and Canada who stayed in a hotel in those countries between May 2010 and May 2011.
Power to the customers
Customer satisfaction in costs and fees persisted despite higher room rates, but contentment with other service and product-related aspects declined, according to the study.
However, the survey also reported increasing occupancy rates despite the slump in service satisfaction.
The hotels were rated based on reservations, check-in and check-out, guest rooms, food and beverages, hotel services, hotel facilities and costs and fees.
Ritz-Carlton received five circles from consumers in all categories.
Ritz-Carlton's Boston Common guest room
"When you look at Ritz, they understand that its special for every guest every time, it has to be an excellent product and service," Mr. Greif said. "It is critical to create a guest experience that not only satisfies but delights guests, especially luxury consumers.
"There has to be a sense of customization and personalization, which is essential," he said. "Luxury consumers also have a lot more touchpoints with hotel staff, and by increasing positive interaction, the level of satisfaction, loyalty, advocacy, commitment and repurchase all go higher.
"The luxury industry as a whole understands that far better."
Four Seasons received five circles in costs and fees and hotel services and four circles in guest rooms, check-in and check-out, food and beverages, hotel facilities and reservations.
Four Seasons, Las Vegas restaurant
Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons, which respectively ranked first and second out of all hotels regardless of segment, beat out luxury hotels such as JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, Loews Hotels & Resorts and InterContinental Hotels & Resorts.
Other chains such as St. Regis Hotels and The Luxury Collection were not included in the segment, but were not ranked due to small samples.
The average for the luxury segment was 829 with three gold circles.
Hotel guests should feel justified in reporting any problem that negatively impacts their satisfaction with a hotel, according to J.D. Power.
This is especially true for luxury consumers, who feel that they should have premium service for the amount of money that they pay to stay at the property.
Only 18 percent of hotel guests in 2011 reported having experienced a problem during their stay, according to the survey.
Noise is the most-reported problem, with 16 percent experiencing this issue.
Ritz-Carlton spa in Los Angeles
However, just a little under half of those who indicated this problem reported the complaint to the staff.
The rate at which guests report a problem to the property varies by the type of problem, per the study.
For instance, only 13 percent of those surveyed experienced a problem with the Internet connection, and 60 percent reported it to the hotel staff.
Satisfaction among guests who experience a problem during their hotel stay averages more than 100 points lower than satisfaction among guests who did not have a problem, per the study.
“When is comes to one area in costs and fees that is still a friction point, it’s Internet,” Mr. Greif said. “There was a little more of an issue when people had to pay for Internet or when it wasn’t included in the rate base.
“They were less satisfied, especially because it tends to be free at less-expensive hotels,” he said.
Rachel Lamb, associate reporter on Luxury Daily, New York