Pillow mints and chatbots are all well and good, but when it comes to satisfying guests it pays to focus on the basics. A good night’s sleep and a swift check-in are two of the most important elements of the guest experience, according to the recently released J.D. Power 2019 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index (NAGSI) Study.
Measuring guest satisfaction with the entire hotel experience (from booking to post-stay communication), the study analyzed the responses of almost 45,000 guests regarding their overall experience based on a stay within the last year. The study, now in its 23rd year, includes 85 officially ranked hotel brands in six market segments (economy through luxury), and offers important insights to hoteliers about guest expectations, satisfaction and industry trends that can be applied to their own properties to help drive guest satisfaction and loyalty.
“Of all the discrete variables of the hotel guest experience we measure, a better-than-expected night’s sleep is the one with the potential to drive the highest level of overall guest satisfaction for those hotels that can deliver,” said Jennifer Corwin, Senior Manager of Consumer Insights for Travel & Hospitality Intelligence at J.D. Power.
Let’s take a closer look at the study’s findings—and at how properties can ensure they’ve got the basics right.
A Good Night’s Sleep
A good sleep does wonders for our physical and emotional well-being, so it’s not surprising that quality of sleep is a core element of a hotel stay.
A better-than-expected sleep impacts overall satisfaction scores by an increase of 114 points (on a 1000-point scale), however, only 29 percent of hotel guests experienced such sweet slumber. Of the guests who were lucky enough to enjoy a better-than-expected sleep, 78 percent say they “definitely will” return to that property.
So, what exactly does it take for a superior sleep? The study confirms what you no doubt already know—the top contributors are: a comfortable bed; a quiet room; comfy pillows; room temperature; and quality linens. But what you may not already know is that quality-of-sleep satisfaction scores are also higher when hotels provide sleep-enhancing accessories like white noise machines, earplugs, and robes and slippers.
An Efficient Check-in Process
The J.D. Power study also highlighted the importance of a quick yet friendly check-in process. Key elements of the check-in experience that impact guest satisfaction are: efficiency (ideally five minutes or less); accuracy; and a warm welcome. Satisfaction scores fall as much as 100 points when any of those criteria are not met.
A modern property management system (PMS) is crucial to an efficient, accurate and welcoming check-in process. Automating administrative tasks and providing all necessary data at your fingertips, a PMS makes it easy to create and look up reservations, access guest data, recognize returning guests, assign rooms and manage billing.
Integrating the PMS with other hotel systems like online booking channels, payment gateways, electronic locking systems, and self-check-in apps and kiosks, streamlines the check-in process even further, eliminating the need to manually crosscheck and duplicate data between systems.
Through data automation and an intuitive user interface, a modern PMS greatly simplifies the check-in process so that administrative tasks do not distract attention away from the guest. Plenty of eye contact and warm smiles make guests feel much more welcome than extended moments of silence as the check-in agent stares at a computer screen.
It’s easy to get distracted by the latest gadgets and trends, but when it comes down to it, a pleasant welcome and a good night’s sleep will always be central to the stay experience. If you get these fundamentals right, research demonstrates you’re well on your way to satisfying your guests and earning their loyalty.