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Hotels Battle Image Issues in Welcoming Back Guests

Many hotel owners and operators held back on investing in upgrades and improvements during the pandemic.   October 19, 2022

By Dan Hounsell, Senior Editor

Institutional and commercial facilities of all kinds continue to struggle with expectations as they welcome back increases numbers of visitors and occupants in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and hospitality facilities are no exception. The results of an industry survey reveal that they need to address key facility-related issues in order to attract more guests. 

Hotel occupancy rates are approaching pre-pandemic levels in 2022 as travelers  make up for two-plus years of deferred vacation plans. But the surge in demand and steadily climbing prices have not been met with a corresponding improvement in amenities or services, according to the J.D. Power 2022 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study. As a result, overall hotel guest satisfaction declines eight points on a 1,000-point scale from 2021, driven primarily by dissatisfaction with cost and fees and guest rooms. 

“Many hotel owners and operators are using this post-pandemic surge in travel to get back on a steady financial footing, yet they held back on investing in upgrades and improvements during the pandemic,” says Andrea Stokes, hospitality practice lead at J.D. Power. “Hotel operators must carefully balance a focus on recovery with the heightened guest expectations that come with higher room rates.” 

Among the key findings of the 2022 study: 

Pricing is up across all segments, but many travelers are not perceiving good value for money. The single biggest factor driving this year’s eight-point decline in overall satisfaction is hotel costs and fees. Another factor driving the decline is satisfaction with guest rooms, which suggests that hotel guests feel like they are paying more but not getting more in return.  

Satisfaction with guest rooms decreases. While hotels still get relatively high satisfaction scores for guest room cleanliness, scores for décor and furnishings, in-room amenities and quality of bathrooms decline from a year ago. 

Fewer staff interactions. After emerging as the heroes of the pandemic by helping to keep hotels up and running through one of the most challenging periods in history, frontline hotel staff are spread thinner this year due to the industry labor shortage. But while fewer guests are interacting with front desk staff and breakfast attendants this year compared with pre-pandemic 2019, they still give staff high ratings for courtesy. 

Dan Hounsell is senior editor of the facilities market. He has more than 25 years of experience writing about facilities maintenance, engineering and management. 


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