JD Power: Hotel Satisfaction Reaches Record High

According to the newest JD Power rankings, hotel guest satisfaction has reached its highest level since 2006.  From the article:

The study, now in its 18th year, measures overall guest satisfaction across eight hotel segments: luxury; upper upscale; upscale; midscale full service; midscale; economy/budget; upper extended stay; and extended stay. Seven key factors are examined in each segment to determine overall satisfaction: reservation; check-in/check-out; guest room; food and beverage; hotel services; hotel facilities; and cost and fees.

Overall satisfaction in 2014 averages 784 points on a 1000-point scale, up 27 points from 2012, with significant improvement in all segments except upper extended stay and extended stay, where satisfaction remains stable. The midscale segment posts the largest year-over-year improvement, increasing by 10 points to 801, which is the first time satisfaction in the segment has surpassed 800 points.

According to JD Power, here are the brands that scored the highest in each category:1 Luxury

  • Luxury: Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
  • Upper Upscale: Kimpton Hotels (for a second consecutive year)
  • Upscale: Hilton Garden Inn
  • Midscale Full Service: Holiday Inn (for a fourth consecutive year)
  • Midscale: Drury Hotels (for a ninth consecutive year)
  • Economy/Budget: Microtel Inn & Suites by Wyndham (for a second consecutive year)
  • Upper Extended Stay: Homewood Suites by Hilton (for a second consecutive year)
  • Extended Stay: Candlewood Suites

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The Telepgraph – Hotels ‘hostage to TripAdvisor blackmailers’

We’ve heard a little chatter over the years about guests blackmailing hotels to remove negative reviews.  Our hoteliers from across the pond have been apparently experiencing the same problems.  From the Telegraph:

Hotels and restaurants are being targeted by “blackmailers” who demand free meals and stays in exchange for not writing bad reviews on the TripAdvisor website, hospitality chiefs have warned.

Guests are warning staff that they will post bad comments on the review website if they are not given better service, meals or upgrades.

Restaurant, hotel and B&B owners in Britain have reported a huge rise in the number of customers using the site as a threat. They say the guests often make a complaint and say they will post a bad review unless given a free bottle of wine, dessert or a bill reduction.

Other “gastronomic blackmailers” even claim that they work for TripAdvisor and will post a series of negative comments unless they get free upgrades.

Hopefully, a solution is on the way.  From the article:

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AAA Extends Five Diamond Honor to 6 Additional Hotels and 8 Restaurants for 2014


AAA’s new 2014 Diamond Ratings are now out.  This year, AAA added 14 additional hotels and 14 restaurants to their top rating.  However, AAA also downgraded 7 hotels from a Five-Diamond Rating to a Four-Diamond Rating.  There are currently 124 Five-Diamond Hotels in North America (only about .4 percent of all hotels).

Here are the new Five-Diamond Hotels:

  • Château du Sureau, Oakhurst, Calif.
  • Wynn Tower Suites, Las Vegas, Nev.
  • Montage Deer Valley, Park City, Utah
  • Four Seasons Hotel, Toronto, Canada
  • Banyan Tree Cabo Marques, Acapulco, Mexico
  • Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Here are the new Five-Diamond Restaurants:

  • The Restaurant at Meadowood, St. Helena, Calif.
  • Acadia, Chicago, Ill.
  • Grace Restaurant, Chicago, Ill.
  • Sixteen, Chicago, Ill.
  • Per Se, New York, N.Y.
  • Restaurant La Tanière, Québec, Canada
  • Restaurant Le Patriarche, Québec, Canada
  • Cocina de Autor, Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Congratulations to the new award winners!  About a year or so, we wrote an article detailing how much harder it would be in 2013 to pass the Five-Diamond certification.  Basically, you have to score 78 percent now, compared to 69 percent in the past.  From the AAA press release: Continue reading

HBR: How to Listen When Someone Is Venting

If you’ve worked in hospitality for more than about 2 days, you’ve probably already been yelled at by an angry guest.  Luckily Mark Goulston at the Harvard Business Review has some great tips.  Mark suggests asking a person who is venting the following three questions:

  1. Just ListenWhat are you most frustrated about? This is a good question because when you ask them about their feelings, it often sounds condescending. And if you start out focusing on their anger, it sounds as if you are coldly telling them to get a hold on themselves, which may work, but more often will just cause the pressure inside them to build up even more.
  2. What are you most angry about? This is where their emotional pus drains. Again let them finish and have them go deeper by asking them, “Say more about _________ .” Don’t take issue with them or get into a debate, just know that they really need to get this off their chest — and if you listen without interrupting them, while also inviting them to say even more, they will.
  3. What are you really worried about? This is like the blood that comes out of wound following the pus. It is as the core of their emotional wound. If you have listened and not taken issue with their frustration and anger, they will speak to you about what they’re really worried about.

Mark has a great book out called “Just Listen:  Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone”

Source:  Harvard Business Review Article

Book:  Just Listen:  Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone

Ask TrueGuest: When Should Employees Introduce Themselves by Name to Guests?

Dear TrueGuest,

We are striving to become a TrueGuest Hotel but are struggling to get our team to introduce themselves to guests.  In what situations should we require our team to introduce themselves?  

Great question, thanks!  This is one area where hotels often have a difficult time teaching their employees to become comfortable with introductions.  Here are the situations that we like to see employees provide an introduction:

  1. When the guest first arrives at the hotel, the very first employee the guest sees should welcome the guest and introduce themselves.  In most cases, the first employee a guest encounters is the doorman or valet attendant who greets them at the car.  It is very critical for that employee to come over, open the door, and greet the guest with a welcoming smile.  Then it is easy to work an introduction into the conversation.  You can simply say ‘welcome to our resort, my name is John and I will help get you settled into the hotel’.  This introduction is important because John is going to need to obtain the guest’s name to pass along to the GSA.
  2. During any interaction that will last longer than a minute or two or where follow-up may be required.  For instance, if you are a Concierge, you should introduce yourself and obtain the guest’s name immediately since you will most likely be working on a task that requires follow-up.  Bellman who helps upon arrival should always give a good introduction since they will be spending quite a bit of time telling the guest about the hotel amenities on the way to the room.  Restaurant servers and bartenders should also give an introduction during the start of their service. Continue reading

AAA Adds 9 New 5 Diamond Hotels for 2013

For 2013, nine more hotels achieved the prestigious honor of AAA’s top-level, Five Diamond.  A total of 125 hotels and 53 restaurants in North America are now AAA Five Diamond certified.  That is only .3 percent of the total 59,000 rated AAA hotels and restaurants!  From the AAA press release:

aaa-five-diamond-awardThe path to a Five Diamond Rating is rigorous. Properties identified by AAA as potential candidates for the Five Diamond Rating undergo multiple unannounced evaluations by a AAA inspector and final decision by a panel of experts. In addition to the evaluation of physical attributes, potential Five Diamond establishments are subject to thorough onsite assessments of all guest services from the initial reservation through checkout for hotels and from seating to  presentation for restaurants. Each area is evaluated based on level of competence, refinement and hospitality.

Here is a list of the new AAA Approved Five Diamond Hotels and Restaurants:

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Bad Staff Attitudes Account for More Complaints Than Quality of Product, from Big Hospitality UK

ICS logo article

Trade website, BigHospitality, recently posted a very interesting report comparing restaurant complaints about service with complaints about food quality.  The article is based on a report titled ‘Handle With Care’, produced by the Institute of Customer Service.  The reports argues that the way customers are treated by the restaurant employees is often more important than the food.

In fact, the top 3 complaints are ‘staff attitude’, ‘staff competence’, and ‘organizations not keeping promised’.

Check out the full article or the Handle With Care Report below.

Source:  BigHospitalityUK

Full Report for Purchase:  Institute of Customer Service

The Ultimate Arrival Experience in Action

If you are working hard on improving your guest welcome with our Guide to the Ultimate Arrival Experience, we wanted to share a few stories of the Ultimate Arrival Experience in action.  The great thing about these two stories is how they show how our Ultimate Arrival Experience will work for any hotel.  These two hotels were both visited by one of our mystery shoppers during the same week…  both took a similar approach to the arrival experience… but are very different hotels.  The first hotel was a budget-friendly Holiday Inn, the second was an ultra-luxurious Ritz-Carlton.

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Consumer Reports Rates Hotels, Results May Surprise You

In the June 2010 issue of Consumer Reports, they have a special travel section that tells readers how to get great deals on travel.  They also announce their ratings for the year.  The hotel ratings, based on over 27,000 reader’s surveys, are somewhat surprising.  Consumer Reports has odd categories of hotels such as ‘fanciest’, ‘luxury’, and ‘upscale’.  The ‘upscale’ category for instance has both full-service and limited-service hotels.

The top score was a tie between Ritz-Carlton in the ‘fanciest’ category and Homewood Suites in the ‘upscale’ category.  The Homewood Suites scored an excellent in value and the Ritz scored very good.

Here are the rankings for a couple of the categories:

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How Google’s Real-Time Search Can Help You Save Customers

We have posted a few articles on how to successfully maintain your internet reputation.  If you missed them, start by reading this one.  Maintaining your hotel’s internet reputation is one of the most important things you can do to save customers who had a bad experience and capture new customers. 

Google has now started to do ‘Real-Time Searches’.  What does that mean?  Google says real-time search is:

… new features that bring your search results to life with a dynamic stream of real-time content from across the web. Now, immediately after conducting a search, you can see live updates from people on popular sites like Twitter and FriendFeed, as well as headlines from news and blog posts published just seconds before. When they are relevant, we’ll rank these latest results to show the freshest information right on the search results page.

What does that mean to you?  Well, for starters, your hotel will now appear in Google if people post a tweet on Twitter about you or mention you in their Facebook status update.  This can be either really good for you, or really bad for you.  Here is how I first noticed Google’s real-time search.  I was going to go out to a local restaurant and needed the address so I did what I always do… pulled out the iPhone and googled it.  I found the address on the first Google entry.  I happened to scroll down to the bottom of the page and saw someone’s Twitter tweet that said ‘got food poisoning at XYZ Restaurant’. 

Obviously not good for business.  I know that I found another restaurant to eat at.  I am sure that many others did as well.  So, what should you do?  First, have a good plan in place to monitor your hotel’s internet reputation.  Then act on anything both positive and negative that you may see.  It is very easy to contact someone who posts about your hotel on Twitter or Facebook or in their Blog.  Be sure to send them a thank you if they say something positive about you and make sure that you offer to fix any problems they may have had if they say anything negative about you.  Make sure that you have a plan in place today!