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Most hotels are failing at a top priority for guests, survey finds

Aarthi Swaminathan
Finance Writer

Sleep is a key component for a great hotel experience, but most hotels aren’t delivering an amazing experience to guests, according to J.D. Power’s latest North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index.

The 2019 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index — which looked at responses from nearly 45,000 hotel guests staying at 85 brands across 6 categories between June 2018 and May 2019 — found that while guests rank quality of sleep as one of the “most important components of a hotel guest experience,” the majority of hotels aren’t delivering “better-than-expected sleeping conditions.”

“Sleep is so important for hotel guests because that's really the reason is there — to get some rest,” J.D. Power Senior Manager of Consumer Insights for Travel Jennifer Corwin told Yahoo Finance. Across the spectrum, “sleep is critical to wellness and having a productive day for business travelers.”

A Holiday Inn employee waits behind a front desk made of key cards as the first-ever key card hotel is unveiled September 17, 2009 in New York. (Photo: TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

A good night’s rest, depending on your price range

Hotels that are getting it right generally cost more, according to the survey.

The quality of sleep is directly correlated to the price of the room, according to J.D. Power. Guests at luxury hotels reported better-than-expected sleep quality followed by those at upscale and midscale hotels, while guests at economy hotels were the least satisfied.

The best hotels for sleep at each segment — in other words, price range — were as follows:

  • Luxury: The Ritz-Carlton (for the fifth consecutive year)

  • Upper Upscale: Hard Rock Hotel

  • Upscale: Best Western Premier

  • Upper Midscale: Drury Hotels (for the 14th consecutive year)

  • Midscale: Wingate by Wyndham (for the fifth consecutive year)

  • Economy: Microtel by Wyndham (for the second consecutive year)

“A lot of times, if you're sleeping away from home in a different bed, you might not have all of those comforts that you're used to you,” Corwin said. “There's a lot of things to overcome to provide a better-than-expected quality of sleep. But when hotels can do it, they're really recognized with guests in terms of increase loyalty [and] increase satisfaction.”

Woman jumping onto bed (Getty Creative)

‘Most bang for the buck’

Overall satisfaction scores increase by 11.4% when hotel guests experience an amazing sleep experience — but only 29% of guests report that that they did. When guests report quality sleep, 78% indicated that they would “definitely” return to the hotel and 71% would return to that brand.

Hotels moving forward should think carefully about using real estate, especially as guests see hotel rooms shrink, said Corwin.

“If you were to prioritize where hotels can get the most bang for their buck in terms of improving guest satisfaction, it would be to focus on the bed,” she explained. “If you're if you're losing real estate in terms of the room itself, or you're trying to fit more rooms into a hotel, you have more potential revenue and more occupants. And the one place you you can really look to differentiate that experience — when there's not much else there in terms of amenities — is the bed.”

Actress Kirsten Dunst has a pillow fight with her younger brother Christian in a hotel room in Prague. (Photo credit: Patrick Robert/Sygma/CORBIS/Sygma via Getty Images)

Pillow menus and white noise machines

What’s the recipe for a good night’s sleep in a hotel room?

Corwin’s team boils it down to a bunch of things: comfort of bed, quietness of room, comfort and quality of pillows — sometimes accompanied by “pillow menus” — room temperature, comfort and quality of linens, white noise or sound machines, ear plugs, robe and slippers and even authentic local decor.

Over the 23 years that this survey has run, a lot of big trends ebb and flow, Corwin said.

“We see things that we think are going to be very popular and catch on kind of die out,” she explained. “So, for example, over the years that we've run the study, we just ask about kiosk checking. That's kind of with a passing fad. We used to ask the importance of getting your voicemails and your fax messages. Of course, that doesn't matter anymore.”

The trend towards helping customers find the right combination of amenities to get good night’s sleep, however, is “not going anywhere.”

Aarthi is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @aarthiswami.

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