Ritz-Carlton, top luxury hotel chain, on record guest satisfaction

Travelers are more satisfied than ever with their hotels just as the number of complaints has dropped significantly, a new study released today shows.

Overall satisfaction in hotels in 2015 reached a score of 804, up 20 points from last year, according to J.D. Power and Associates‘ 19th annual survey of North American hotel guests. It’s the first time satisfaction has surpassed the 800-point mark on the 1,000-point scale.

At the same time, there was a 20% reduction in the number of guests who reported a problem during their stay. It was the lowest rate of complaints since 2006.

The survey is based on responses gathered between June 2014 and May 2015 from more than 62,000 guests in Canada and the United States. The guests stayed at a hotel in North America between May 2014 and May 2015.

Among the factors taken into consideration were the reservations and the check-in/check-out experience, food and beverage options, hotel services and facilities, and costs and fees.

Hotels of all price points were examined including luxury, extended stay, and budget.

The survey found that employee demeanor has a significant impact on how satisfied guests are. The average number of problems experienced when a staff member greeted guests with a smile “all the time” dropped 50%, compared to when they were smiled at only “sometimes.”

Guests who believed that hotel employees anticipated their needs had a satisfaction rate of 912 vs. a rate of 602 among those who felt their needs were neglected.

The study also shows that guests are more loyal when they walk away from their stay “delighted.” Among those who were delighted, 80% said they “definitely will” recommend the hotel to a friend, relative or colleague. And 66% said they would stay again. Only 4% of those who were disappointed said they would return.

“Hotels that proactively meet guest needs have the ability to create a positive guest experience,” says Rick Garlick, global travel and hospitality practice lead at J.D. Power. “Hotel staff members need to maintain a proper balance between proactively addressing needs and responding to problems effectively. Doing so can help guests feel good about their selection of the hotel brand and increase the likelihood they will return for another stay or recommend it to others.”

Those travelers who picked hotels based primarily on price were less satisfied than those who researched a property to make sure it would meet their needs.

Some hotel brands have earned the highest satisfaction rates for multiple years.

The top luxury brand was The Ritz-Carlton.

“We are thrilled that our luxury brands are setting the standard for discerning travelers around the world,” says Mitzi Gaskins, vice president of luxury brand management for Marriott, parent company of Ritz-Carlton. “Our guest experience is crucial to our continued success and leadership position.” You may watch here an interview with Herve Humler, Ritz-Carlton COO on this outstanding achievement.

Omni Hotels & Resorts earned top honors in the upper upscale category.

“This is one of the most highly anticipated studies in our industry because it represents the opinions of the people we care about most – our guests,” says Mike Deitemeyer, president of Omni Hotels & Resorts. “One of our core brand values is creating memorable experiences. This recognition is gratifying as we continue to deliver on and remain a leader in experiential travel.”

Here is the list of hotel brands with the highest guest-satisfaction scores, by category:

  • Luxury: The Ritz-Carlton
  • Upper Upscale: Omni Hotels & Resorts
  • Upscale: Hyatt Place