Market Metrix, a national opinion firm, has completed a study of those factors that influence a person's decision to stay in a particular hotel. Of note is that the study looked at all segments of the lodging industry, from economy through luxury and even included timeshares.
According to an except about the study:
“Guest experience factors” which include past experience, reputation, recommendations, and online reviews, are critical to selecting a hotel by the majority of hotel guests (51%) and are now more important to guests than either hotel location (48%) or price (42%)."
Interestingly, loyalty programs are in fourth place, at only 18%. The percentage citing loyalty programs in any given hotel price segment never rises above 30%.
It is highest among named casinos, where perks often include free everything (just about) for the highest of the high rollers. Not sure if they commissioned the study but they certainly have very loyal customers, according to this.
It's fascinating where guest experience and loyalty programs peak in this Market Metrix study. Perhaps it was commissioned by a client with stakes in the casino market? How is it that Harrah's came up 62%?
Intuitively, price/affordability is a key driver for Economy; and location/guest experience make sense for Timeshares. But, separating loyalty programs from guest experience seems to be splitting hairs. IMO, how loyal guests are treated is part of the overall guest experience.
Above: Table extracted from http://www.hospitalitynet.org/news/154000320/4045264.html
I had some "reservations" (pardon the pun) about the survey. The survey was probably conducted among all types of travelers: the once a year family vacationer, the three time a year Vegas traveler, the once a quarter conventioneer, etc. and of course the road warriors. I believe this cross-section of "the general public" skews the results to the less-frequent travelers whose opinions are more significant (each gets 1 vote) in the survey than their annual spend/nights (which, of course, was not measured). ). Had the survey been “weighted” by asking “how many nights a year do you spend in hotels” and rankings multiplied by this number, the choices would shift. (Hotel companies would find the results more valuable as this approach factors revenue in the choices by including # of nights). In addition, the article references TripAdvisor – a tool I never use for business travel but use often for vacation planning; considering 98% of my nights are business, I am atypical of the TripAdvisor visitor which implies it has influence on my hotel choices.
Also, "guest experience factors" is an umbrella term that could mean almost anything: clean rooms, comfortable bed, quiet surroundings, restaurant quality, experience at check-in/check-out, friendliness of staff, quality of fitness room, size of pool, parking, etc. It would be interesting to see how these factors split out individually if ranked in the same survey. Because the first three items are of key importance to me (I don't use the restaurant, fitness, pool, and other items don't matter much) AND burried within the "guest experience factors" - I would have had to vote for guest experience factors as my number one despite being extremely price sensitive (I typically negotiate long-term stays of 9-18 months).
I postulate that if this survey were taken by MR members only (rather than a cross-sectional slice of all travelers) and analyzed within each status level, the rankings of the different factors would be skewed slightly depending on status, but more importantly, the loyalty programs and promotions would push near the top, just shy of guest experience factors.
"the article references TripAdvisor"
The article illustrates active interest in changing attitudes. With 'loyalty' firmly established as a driver for business travel, 'guest experience' has relevance to Marriott on the leisure side. For example, Marriott's Grand Chateau participates in the Asia Pacific Club, a new points-based program quietly launched last year.
Like Orlando, Las Vegas is a cross-over market where the major brands can apply lessons-learned about experience-driven marketing. Receptiveness to Marriott's Asia Pacific Club may suggest that something other than Marriott Rewards may be on the horizon in the not-too-distant-future.
The mention of TripAdvisor is more than coincidence. In Las Vegas and many other markets, TripAdvisor.com is unrivaled as a user-experience-driven platform for hotel choice.
Dear Pingreeman and TJC: I too have reservations about this study, or rather "poll" since I cannot see or find the methodology used to conduct it in the Matrix literature. I do note that they sell these kinds of products to those categories mentioned in the article that I posted here first.
I'll keep everyone posted and it they raise their head again I'll report to all.
I agree that there reliability and validity questions with regard to the survey methodolgy. The other item that is not included is $$$$. I remember one phone call which I made to a well known Calif Marriott to see about the possibility of an upgrade for my impending stay. Not only was the front desk manager accommodating, but he shared with me that he was just reading a report when I called, one that outlined the large amt of money generated by Marriott Gold and Platinum members per annum. So even if the loyalty program as the single deciding factor is not large, at least for Marriott, the dollar amount generated by this market segment is! And we all know, that's the bottom line.
"So even if the loyalty program as the single deciding factor is not large, at least for Marriott, the dollar amount generated by this market segment is!"
The results are clearly skewed towards 'Casino'. In a market like Las Vegas, 'guest experience' takes on a different meaning. Spending the evening watching the fountains at the Bellagio or strolling the romanesque ruins of Caesar's Palace are in a different bucket. Yes, the fountains and the shopping arcade are extensions of the hotel, but are monumental and civic in scale.
From California and Nevada to the Jersey shore, Harrah's has locations in very diverse markets and likely looking to expand. Whoever commissioned the study is looking beyond cashing in on the Elite segment and maybe going head-to-head. With 'Amenities' at only 8% and even lower than Loyalty Points at 18%, upgrades and Concierge Lounge hours do not hold a candle for this mystery survey group.