Travel Insight: What Drives Your Decision In Selecting a Hotel?

It’s easy to decide where to go on vacation, but deciding where to stay can be a little more challenging. There’s so much to think about. Location, Price, Deals, Amenities, Free Wi-Fi, Reviews. Some travelers are brand-loyal, while others hop around for the best bang for their bucks. Some travelers look for boutique charm, while others (like my husband) just want the best sleep possible while away from their own comfy beds at home. Last month, J.D Power and Associates released its 2012 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study. It’s a long report, technical to read, but what they found in a nutshell is that hotels are continuing to fall further behind in guest satisfaction. This report, now in its 16th year, reveals that overall guest satisfaction has declined to 757 on a 1,000-point scale, down 7 index points from 2011. The biggest point of contention centering on guest dissatisfaction these days: paying for Internet services, especially in the luxury market. Complimentary Internet access is more likely included at mid-scale limited service, mid-scale full service, upscale, and economy/budget hotels. So what hotels came out on top for guest satisfaction?

Hotels On Top for Guest Satisfaction

Luxury: The Ritz-Carlton (for a third consecutive year) Upper Upscale: Omni Hotels & Resorts Upscale: Hilton Garden Inn and SpringHill Suites (in a tie) Mid-Scale Full Service: Holiday Inn (for a second consecutive year) Mid-Scale Limited Service: Drury Hotels (for a seventh consecutive year) Economy/Budget: Jameson Inn Extended Stay: Homewood Suites (for a third consecutive year) It’s sometimes hard to pinpoint your best stay in a property because you weigh in so many factors, and I’ve had some great stays at a lot of hotels. And yes, a Ritz-Carlton is one of those stays. I will definitely stay in one when possible. For me, though, it’s a lot easier to remember some of my worst stays. I’ve had a few of those in my 20-plus years of traveling now as an adult. However, as I get more hotel-savvy with age, I’m happy to say that I have less dissatisfaction and more satisfaction when I’m a guest at a hotel.

What I like in My Hotel Stays

  When deciding on a hotel, I do rely heavily on what prior guests have to say about a property. I’m a big fan of tripadvisor, and I talked a little about what I look for on the hotel review site earlier this year on my blog. I also don’t always jump at the No. 1-ranked hotel, either. I weigh in a lot of factors when choosing a hotel stay.  Hotel décor, cleanliness, room restocking, and bedding/linens are important things to me in my hotel stays. It irks me to go into a room and to discover the TV remote is missing. That happened to me at a luxury property in Disney. I like great service, but truthfully, I don’t really need anyone to make a big fuss over me. I just want to make sure I have enough fluffy towels and a smooth check-in and check-out. I like to have coffee/tea service restocked properly after each housekeeping visit. I don’t like it when you are on the second day of a stay and you have fewer creamers and sugars than the day before. That’s a big fail. I also want to be acknowledged at the hotel restaurant in a timely manner. Nothing is worse than going to a restaurant at a nonbusy time and standing there with not one employee in sight. Agree? And, of course, hotel concierges are great resources, especially in foreign countries. I like to meet the concierge at every property that I stay in, and if the hotel doesn’t have one, I rely on the front desk for dinner recommendations and directions. What is important to you when you select a hotel?   Photos courtesy of Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island and Hines-Sight Blog at Ballantyne Hotel and Lodge, Charlotte, NC

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