As a hotel owner, your main concern is to fill as many rooms as possible as consistently as possible. It’s common knowledge that prospective guests place price, location and solid reviews high on their list of determining factors, amenities are the thing that can really set a property apart. The amenities you offer are one way to differentiate your property and improve your chances of being someone’s hotel of choice. They’re an area in which you can go beyond merely satisfying guests and strive to delight them. Delighted guests are far more likely to leave glowing online reviews; the lifeblood of your business.
But just what DO hotel guests want in terms of amenities? And which ones do they actually end up using? These are important things to consider in today’s highly competitive hotel market. Recently, Cornell University School of Hotel Administration set out to help answer these questions. Their September 2018 study revealed some surprising and interesting facts on the topic of hotel amenities – facts that today’s savvy hotelier needs to understand.
The Cornell study involved thirty-three hotels (midscale, upscale and luxury) within one major hotel brand; gathering surveys from some 724 guests over 12 months. The surveys (implemented both pre and post-visit) revealed that hoteliers often overestimate which amenities hotel guests will use most while vastly underestimating those amenities guests actually use. For example, the study showed that hoteliers thought far more guests would use alarm clocks, spas and in-room dining than actually ended up using them. Although these amenities were used by some guests, hoteliers significantly overpredicted the number.
Similarly, in this study, hoteliers predicted far fewer guests would care about lobby seating, valet parking and concierge services than actually did. They underpredicted the impact of these amenities on the level of guest satisfaction. This difference in predicted use versus actual is critical information for hoteliers who are debating which amenities to offer. Hospitality Advisor, Anthony Becerra of NewGen Advisory, commented on this point in the Cornell study, emphasizing the importance of first impressions at hotel and enhancing common areas of the hotel, like the lobby and breakfast area. “The lobby is every guest’s first impression. Spending time on developing a unique style, that is modern, rustic, or eclectic goes a long way with customers. Every hotel owner should spend time on creating and developing that first impression.”
It’s interesting to also note the difference in expected use of in-room internet and the actual use. Sixty-eight percent said they would use it while only 39% actually logged on. Obviously, the internet is still used (and expected) by people, it’s just not used by as many as you might think. The study also summarized amenities that guests had a low expectation of using compared to actual use. Notice that only 14% said they would use valet parking while 23% actually used it.
So which amenities are most important to guests?
In February 2017, Cornell University School of Hotel Administration released the results of another report that analyzed the short-term ROI of fifty amenities; focusing on three of the most common: internet, bottled water and fitness centers. The report, which also spanned 12 months, looked at the effect of these amenities on both initial guest visits and repeat business as well as the ROI of each.
As in the 2018 study referenced earlier, this study involved 33 properties (of varying levels of luxury) within the same global hotel brand. According to the results of this study:
Free bottled water had little effect on initial hotel choice, a significant effect on return visits and created positive ROI for the owner.
- Free in-room internet had a strong effect on initial choice little effect on return visits and generated positive ROI for five of the six brands.
- Fitness centers did not have a significant effect on initial choice or return visits and generated very low ROI.
These studies brought to light that most guests vastly overestimate how much they will use certain amenities.
But this doesn’t mean hoteliers should eliminate these amenities as many guests will still use them. These studies will prove most useful when considering which new amenities to offer in order to delight customers AND your bottom line.