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5 Apr, 2012

Hotel Survey Results “Surprise”: Brands Less Important Than Claimed

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Costa Mesa, California (Burba Hotel Network) April 5 2012 – The results are in for BHN’s first hotel opinion survey, covering the likes, dislikes and preferences of hotel insiders. More than 1,000 hotel insiders from around the world responded to the survey, and here are their opinions.

Location, Location, Location

What is the first consideration when choosing a hotel when traveling for personal reasons?  61% say location.  Logical, but we thought brand affiliation might be more important since we were polling hotel industry insiders. Actually, price was identified the second most frequently (18%), followed closely by brand affiliation (17%), and amenities (5%).

Is Online Really Out-of-Line?

Despite the rancor about Online Travel Agencies (OTAs), 63% of our insider respondents have used an online booking service such as Hotels.com or Expedia to purchase a hotel room for personal travel over the past year.  For business travel, this number drops to 45%, no doubt due to corporate and other business relationships of the respondents.

It’s Not the Bed, It’s the WiFi

In an earlier survey we were told that Wi-Fi was the most desirable amenity in a hotel room. Well, it is also the most annoying amenity – when one has to pay for it or it doesn’t work well. 42% of respondents noted slow WiFi as the most annoying thing in a hotel room.  Coupled with a number of open-ended responses about price, difficulty, or lack of – WiFi is the winner – or is it the loser?  The second most annoying thing noted in a hotel room was poor lighting (17%), followed in a cluster by slow room service, no coffee maker, mini bar prices, and no place for luggage (all 5-6%).  In the open ended responses, lack of power outlets and dirty rooms led the “annoying” responses.

It’s All About the Miles

Perhaps the most surprising (or not) survey finding came from our question about what hotel insiders prefer to collect.  Is it the miles or the points?  A whopping 87% think it is more important to collect airline miles, leaving a lowly 13% indicating that collecting hotel frequent stay points was their top preference. Why? Is it because hotel insiders don’t need to redeem points to stay at their own hotel brand, because hotel rewards aren’t seen as being as valuable as airline rewards, because it takes too long to earn something meaningful, or because location drives the personal travel decision and not the brand? We wonder what the hotel frequent stay executives will think about this result.

The facts

More than half of the survey invitees (53%) indicated they live in the U.S.  25% indicated they live in Asia. 10% of the respondents indicated they live in Europe.  The balance of the respondents was spread fairly evenly around the globe.

The age of the survey respondents show a broad range, with the most common age ranges being 46-55 (33%) and 56-65 (26%).  The younger group of 25 and under (3%) and senior group of 66 or older (8%) were the bookend age segments of respondents.

About the Hotel Opinion Report, BHN vice president Bob Hayes said, “We see some surprising results in our first Hotel Opinion Report, mostly with the question of collecting miles versus hotel reward points and also with location being the prime consideration when a hotel insider selects a hotel for personal travel. We thought brand affiliation might be more important.”  Hayes added, “WiFi is almost always an issue in hotels, so the survey result on this was somewhat expected.”

  • Tom Buncle

    As a frequent traveller these results don’t surprise me at all – particularly the lack of brand loyalty (versus location & price) and frustration with wi-fi.

    However it is important not to mistake these responses for saying something they don’t actually mean. For instance, it would be wrong to interpret them as suggesting that fast/free wi-fi is more important than a comfortable bed. If you asked travellers to rank these two I doubt many would prefer fast/free wi-fi to a decent night’s sleep.

    But – branded hotels and those that the traveller is familiar with apart – how can you tell whether the hotel has a comfortable bed or not? I guess there is an assumption (often erroneous in my experience) that hotels of a certain standard will have a comfortable bed, which is therefore taken for granted by respondents to such surveys. If only it were so – especially the pillows! (How many hotel procurement decison-makers with responsibility for purchasing pillows for their 4 & 5-star properties have ever actually slept in their beds with these pillows?!)

    So, let’s be clear what we are measuring and what we are comparing, as well as what travellers’ assumptions might be when they repsond, so that we don’t claim apples are nicer than pears or chalk tastier than cheese.

  • In our first survey, we did include a “comfortable bed” along with WiFi in the most favored hotel amenity, and WiFI came out on top. Agree that all answers are subject to interpretation.