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Many hotels in the past year have been challenged to restore pre-pandemic service and staffing levels as demand rises and rates increase markedly. That mixture of circumstance is beginning to damage guests’ satisfaction with hotel service, according to a new J.D. Power study released this week.  

The overall score in the J.D. Power 2022 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study was eight points lower than it was in last year’s study, a phenomenon the company attributed to rising hotel costs without commensurate improvements in service delivery.

“Many hotel owners and operators are using this post-pandemic surge in travel to get back on a steady financial footing, yet they held back on investing in upgrades and improvements during the pandemic,” said J.D. Power hospitality practice lead Andrea Stokes in a statement, citing STR and CoStar data that show the average daily rate at branded North American hotels has increased 34.8 percent while the survey was in the field. “Hotel operators must carefully balance a focus on recovery with the heightened guest expectations that come with higher room rates.” 

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While rising hotel costs are the most significant factor in the declining satisfaction score, according to J.D. Power, the company cited a number of other contributing factors. Scores for “décor and furnishings, in-room amenities and quality of bathrooms” declined from a year ago even as guest-room cleanliness satisfaction held steady from last year’s results. 

Though the hotel labor shortage isn’t reflected in cleanliness scores, respondents noted a decrease in the number of in-person interactions with hotel staff, particularly at the front desk and during breakfast, but satisfaction scores for staff politeness held steady.

Meanwhile, J.D. Power noted that the percentage of guests who paid for in-room Wi-Fi access increased four percentage points since 2019, perhaps negatively affecting satisfaction.

Brand Rankings

The survey ranks hotel brands based on a 1,000-point scale in the six major segments: luxury, upper-upscale, upscale, upper-midscale, midscale and economy. This year, J.D. Power also included satisfaction scores for extended-stay brands, separating them into upscale and upper-midscale/midscale tiers. 

The overall guest satisfaction score for all hotels was 822 on a 1,000-point scale, down from 830 both last year and in 2020.

Some brands atop individual tiers were repeat winners. Drury Hotels led the upper-midscale tier for the 17th straight year, and Ritz-Carlton and Hard Rock Hotels led the luxury and upper-upscale tiers, respectively, for the second year in a row. Other tier leaders include Hilton Garden Inn, Wingate by Wyndham and WoodSpring Suites.

The new upscale extended-stay tier was led by Hyatt House, and Sonesta Simply Suites topped the upper-midscale/midscale extended-stay tier.

J.D. Power surveyed 34,407 hotel guests for stays between May 2021 and May 2022 to develop the report.

RELATED: J.D. Power 2021 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study

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