Home News & Features J.D. Power Study Gauges Awareness of Environmental Programs

J.D. Power Study Gauges Awareness of Environmental Programs

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WESTLAKE VILLAGE, CALIF.—Although nearly three-fourths of hotel guests in North America willingly participate in environmentally friendly programs offered during their hotel stays, many guests remain unaware of whether these programs are offered at the hotel property, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2007 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Study.

In response to growing concern about global warming and conservation issues, being environmentally responsible has become a top trend in the hotel industry, with properties initiating various green programs, such as changing linens and towels only on request and using water-saving bathroom faucets and toilets.

When guests were asked if the hotel had conservation programs in place, 63 percent of guests answered yes, while 8 percent said no, and 29 percent indicated that they didn’t know. When they are aware of a hotel’s environmentally friendly programs, 73 percent of hotel guests indicate they participate. In turn, raising awareness of environmentally friendly programs among customers may help properties further increase participation.

“Since conservation is such an important issue globally, it is vitally important that hotel properties actively market their eco-friendly offerings and make them easy to recognize and participate in,” says Linda Hirneise, executive director of the travel practice at J.D. Power and Associates. “Offering green programs is a win-win situation for both hotel guests and hotel operators. Guests are increasingly looking for these types of offerings, and hotels are finding that going green actually saves money.”

Younger Guests More Apt to Participate

Of the 27 percent of hotel guests who are aware of hotel environmentally friendly programs and choose not to participate, a large number (86 percent) indicate that they would take part if offered a reward for doing so. However, this number declines to 83 percent among guests in the Pre-Boomer generation (those born prior to 1946), and drops even further—to 33 percent—among Pre-Boomers staying in luxury hotels. Willingness to participate is much higher among luxury hotel guests in other generational groups—87 percent of Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964), 95 percent of Generation X (those born between 1965 and 1976) and 79 percent of Generation Y (those born between 1977 and 1989).

Now in its 11th year, the study measures overall hotel guest satisfaction across six hotel segments: luxury, upscale, mid-scale full service, mid-scale limited service, economy/budget and extended stay. Seven key measures are examined within each segment to determine overall satisfaction: reservations, check-in/check-out, guestroom, food and beverage, hotel services, hotel facilities, and costs and fees.

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

• Luxury: The Ritz-Carlton

• Upscale: Embassy Suites Hotels

• Mid-Scale Full Service: Hilton Garden Inn

• Mid-Scale Limited Service: Drury Inn & Suites

• Economy/Budget: Microtel Inns & Suites

• Extended Stay: Homewood Suites

Both Hilton Garden Inn and Microtel Inns & Suites rank highest in overall satisfaction in their respective segments for a sixth consecutive year. In addition, three of the six highest-ranked brands—Hilton Garden Inn, Embassy Suites Hotels and Homewood Suites—are part of the Hilton Hotels Corp.

In this year’s study, issues with staff attitude and staff service are among the most frequently reported problems by hotel guests, particularly by luxury hotel guests. With more than one in five guests reporting a problem with staff service, this issue is the most frequently mentioned problem among luxury hotel guests who say they experienced a significant problem during their stay.

Barrier to Guest Satisfaction

“With the hotel industry rapidly approaching product and price parity, the key differentiator between a good hotel experience and a truly outstanding experience is the quality of service delivered by the hotel staff,” Hirneise says. “Staff-related problems are controllable, and significant problems with staff make it difficult, if not impossible, to deliver great service and high levels of satisfaction. Hotels have dedicated tremendous resources for renovations and improvements of their properties in efforts to improve satisfaction, but all of this may be for naught if service excellence is remiss.”

The study found that 97 percent of hotel guests say they feel either safe or very safe traveling within North America. However, among hotel guests traveling outside of North America, 34 percent report feeling “unsafe” or “very unsafe.” Of those traveling abroad, 40 percent of those staying in economy/budget hotels and 38 percent of guests staying in mid-scale limited service hotels say they felt “unsafe” or “very unsafe,” compared with only 21 percent of guests who reported feeling “unsafe” or “very unsafe” while staying in luxury hotels.

The study also found that providing a nonsmoking environment continues to be important to hotel guests. Overall, 82 percent of guests say they prefer a smoke-free hotel environment—including public areas and guestrooms—up from 79 percent in 2006. In response to this preference among guests, some hotel brands now offer completely smoke-free environments, including Marriott properties in North America and Westin Hotels & Resorts properties in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean.

The 2007 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study is based on responses gathered between June 2006 and June 2007 from 47,634 guests who stayed in a hotel between May 2006 to June 2007.

Go to J.D. Power and Associates.

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