Two hotel chains continue to win customers’ reviews as the country’s best, even as traditional hotels struggle to keep pace with online brokers such as Airbnb. JW Marriot Hotels by Marriott ranked highest in the recent American Customer Satisfaction Index and Embassy Suites by Hilton came in a close second. The JW Marriott brand scored 84 and Embassy Suites earned 83. Travelers gave these upscale brands better marks than some luxury or upper-upscale chains.
The Index gave 32 of the nation’s most popular hotel chains a satisfaction grade between zero and 100 based on what customers said about reputation. The average hotel got a score of 76.
One ACSI executive credited the rise in online brokers for this year’s 1.3 percent drop in guest satisfaction with hotels down to an Index score of 75. “This is a transforming industry,” says David VanAmburg, ACSI managing director. “If corporate hotels aren’t able to step up, they’re going to continue to slide.” Customers say the two leading hoteliers still are noted for better guest service and higher-quality amenities than other hotel brands. Plus, the top two brands offer more upscale and luxury properties.
Best-ranked economy chain scored 68.
Marriott’s Fairfield Inn & Suites tied with Hilton’s Embassy Suites at a score of 83, followed by Hilton Garden Inn with a score of 82. Brands that scored 81 are Marriott Hotels, InterContinental’s Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts, Courtyard by Marriott and Best Western Premier.
Note to travelers on a budget: The best-ranked economy chain, Days Inn by Wyndham, had a score of 68. Econo Lodge by Choice trailed with 67, but two economy chains sat at the bottom of the list: Super 8 by Wyndham with a score of 65 and Motel 6 by G6 Hospitality at 63.
Motel 6 and Super 8 are both known for their cheap rates, so customers probably don’t expect stellar amenities. However, travelers may want to check out Consumer Affairs ratings before booking a reservation. Consumer Affairs awards both Motel 6 and Super 8 only 1.5 stars based on nationwide complaints.
Find ways to save at higher-rated hotels.
Before you head for low-rated economy digs, check out ways to save money at other chains. Use travel price checker sites such as Kayak.com to find a good value, but don’t book through the site. Call the hotel directly when you find a rate that makes you happy, and they will likely price match for you. Or help out a traveler who’s had to cancel a trip and wants to sell a hotel reservation. Sites like roomertravel.com make these reservations available and let you save money on the same room you would have booked for yourself.
Guests registered a number of gripes with ACSI about hotel conditions and said hotels have deteriorated on almost all fronts. Call center satisfaction saw the sharpest drop-off in scores with a 6 percent plunge to a 78. Quality of in-room amenities also sat at a score of 78. Room quality is worse with an 81 score and less courteous and helpful service dropped staff to 82. Making a reservation and checking in saw better scores of 84, but even those fell from the previous year.
Photo at the JW Marriot Hotel in Palm Desert, CA