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Hotel Customer Service: Who’s Best?

SmarterTravel

The hotel chain with the highest ratings for customer satisfaction is Park Hyatt, with a 94 percent “positive” rating. That’s according to a report published by Medallia, a prominent customer-experience specialist, covering the second quarter of this year. Scores are based on combining traveler ratings posted on “some of the world’s most visited and used travel and hospitality review sites” including TripAdvisor, Hotels.com, and Booking.com. The report covers only multi-property brands in the United States.

Overall, the percentage of positive numbers generally follows the trend you might expect: better scores for luxury and upscale chains, lower scores as you proceed down the price line to midscale and economy.

  • Luxury: Park Hyatt, at 94 percent, outscores everyone else, but it developed only 214 responses. Among the luxury chains with more than 1,000 responses, Las Vegas Sands scores an impressive 91 percent, and Four Seasons, Sofitel, and Leading Hotels score 89 percent to 90 percent. The lowest-ranking luxury chains are Waldorf Astoria and W Hotels, both surprisingly just in the high 70s. Among individual hotels, Whiteface Lodge, Lake Placid, stands out with a near-perfect score. I especially like it because it has stopped adding mandatory resort fees.
  • Upper Upscale: The top chain in this group is Omni, at 85 percent, closely followed by Renaissance, Hard Rock, Le Meridien, Westin, and Hyatt, at 82 percent to 83 percent. At 74 percent, Sheraton is at the bottom of the list, with Marriott, Embassy Suites, and Hilton in the high 70s. Surprisingly, this is the only group that didn’t follow the “higher prices equal better scores” scenario.
  • Upscale: Outrigger, at 90 percent, outscores all of the pricier upper upscale group, but I have to think that being mostly in Hawaii helps garner good customer reviews for this small chain. The much larger chains, Staybridge Suites, Cambria Suites, Element, Best Western Premier, and Hyatt House, all score a close 88 percent to 89 percent. Surprisingly, with scores of 73 percent to 74 percent, Crowne Plaza, Radisson, and Four Points do not fare well.
  • Upper Midscale: This group’s top chain, Hampton Inn and Suites, at 88 percent, also outscores all the Upper Upscale group. Home2Suites, Hampton Inn, Fairfield Inn and Suites, Holiday Inn Express, Comfort Suites, Towneplace Suites, and Best Western Plus all score in the 80s. The low end is represented by Carlson at 61 percent and Park Inn at 45 percent.
  • Midscale: The leader here is Candlewood at 82 percent, with a substantial gap over Wingate, Best Western Best, Sleep Inn, MainStay Suites, and La Quinta Inns and Suites in the 70 percent to 76 percent range. The low end in this group consists of Ramada, at 53 percent, and Howard Johnson, at 50 percent.
  • Economy: Not surprisingly, scores for the economy group suffer in comparison with the more expensive groups. The top scorer is the very small Value Place chain, at 67 percent. Top scorers among the larger chains are 61 percent for Microtel Inns and Suites, with scores of 50 percent to 55 percent for Super 8, Travelodge, Rodeway Inn, Econo Lodge, Extended Stay America, Days Inn, Motel 6, and Studio 6, with Knights Inn (47 percent) and Crossland (32 percent) at the bottom.

Obviously, these chain scores are averages from hundreds to tens of thousands of individual samples. You find substantial variation within any individual chain. Even though Days Inn scores relatively low overall, for example, the Days Inn in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, earns a score close to the best, as does the La Quinta in Sebring, Florida. One other observation from the data: Suite chains appear to generate favorable reviews in all price classes.

The primary conclusion, however, is that you need to keep in mind the adage, “A statistician is someone who drowns wading in a river that averages three feet deep.” An overall chain or brand score is far less useful than a report on any individual hotel, motel, or resort you might be considering. And some of your best choices may not be units of a chain at all. TripAdvisor and the several independent hotel booking websites all have enormous databases of customer reviews, covering hotels just about everywhere you might want to visit—along with places, such as Pyongyang and Benghazi that you probably don’t want to visit any time soon. Use these resources.

Ed Perkins on Travel is copyright (c) 2014 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

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