Hotels spend a lot of time and effort figuring out what guests want. The easiest way to get information is from the post-stay surveys. While these can let a hotel know what people like and what they don’t about a single property, hotel chains operate thousands of hotels. They also want to know, on a larger scale, which things guests care about and what they don’t feel is as important.
One day, I was digging around the internet looking for information on hotel brand standards and ended up at a research document about guest preferences. Hotels wanted to know what amenities had the best return on investment so in 2017 they asked Cornell University to do a study.
The professors, who all had marketing doctorates, looked at over 50 amenities at midscale to luxury hotels. When they were finished gathering data, they were permitted to publish the results for three of the amenities. Here’s a partial list of amenities they looked at.
Auto check-in, Bellhop, Boarding pass printing, Business center, Concierge, Early check-in, Electronic checkout, Fitness center, Folio under door, Gift shop, Hotel bar, Inroom dining for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or late night, Late checkout, Laundry service, Lobby food, Lobby internet access, Pool, Restaurant breakfast, lunch, or dinner, Seating in lobby, Spa, Valet parking, Wakeup call
Alarm, Bottled water, Closet, Coffee maker in room, Desk, Fitness equipment in room, In-room internet access, Iron, Minibar, Movies on demand, MP3 dock, Phone for inside calls, Phone for outside calls, Radio, Refrigerator in room, Robe, Safe, Task lighting, TV, Video games on demand
Dispenser for soap or shampoo, Hair dryer, Packaged soap, shampoo, conditioner, or lotion
The study was trying to determine which one of the amenities guests valued more when choosing a property and which one made them more likely to return to a hotel. They also measured how much guests estimated they would use an amenity and how often they actually used that amenity during their stay.
The three amenities published in the paper were In-Room Internet, Fitness Center and Bottled Water.
The Winner Is?????
The amenity which was the most important to guests after their stay was:
Something as simple as providing a water bottle made a guest more likely to return to a hotel. It was the only one of the three amenities where guests underestimated its usage. For the fitness center, only 1/2 of the people who said they’d use it during their stay, actually did.
The return on investment for offering bottled water crushed the competition as the only cost is the water, which is delivered by housekeeping. There’s no added cost to add the bottles to the cart.
While this study was published in 2017 (with the data collected for a year), it’s interesting to see what people think they care about when booking a stay vs. what they actually use and value during and afterward. I’m surprised that more hotels still don’t include water bottles as a regular amenity, but instead include it as part of a resort fee or a perk of the loyalty program.
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