Which are the best hotel chains today?
The best U.S. multi-brand hotel chains are Hilton and Marriott, tied at a score of 80 out of 100 in the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). Hyatt at 79 and InterContinental at 78 follow closely, and Best Western scores above the industry average at 77.
Chains scoring below average run from Choice at 74, La Quinta at 74, Wyndham at 70, down to Motel 6 at 64.
Aggregate scores for each chain are based on weighted averages of customer satisfaction with 10 individual quality elements.
Half of the elements refer to essential experience features of any hotel stay: staff courtesy and helpfulness, room quality, in-room features, in-room entertainment and in-room Internet. The other five deal with the reservation process, loyalty program, restaurant and such.
Overall, ratings for those essential experience factors are generally good, with the possible exception of in-room internet, which scores well below the other factors. This is in sharp contrast with airline scores, where the actual essence of the product — the seat — scores well below all other elements of the customer experience.
Get what you pay for
In many ways, the most interesting results deal with individual brands, rather than chains. ACSI published separate scores for 31 individual brands, as grouped into six price categories: luxury, upper upscale, upscale, upper midscale, midscale and economy.
In general, satisfaction scores tend to follow price levels, with luxury J.W. Marriott on top at 84 and economy Motel 6 on the bottom at 63. Individual winners include few surprises:
Luxury: J.W. Marriott, at 84, is the only brand included in this category.
Upper Upscale: Embassy Suites, number 2 overall at 83, tops this group, which includes Marriott Hotels (81), Hilton Hotels and Resorts (79), Hyatt Regency (79), Sheraton (77) and Westin (76). Relatively low scores for stablemates Sheraton and Westin may come as a bit of surprise to veteran travelers.
Upscale: Top-of-group Hilton Garden Inn, at 82, outscores every upper upscale brand except Embassy Suites. Other scores in this group include Crowne Plaza (81), Courtyard by Marriott (81), Best Western Premier (81), AC Hotels (79), Residence Inn (79), DoubleTree (78), Hyatt Place (77), and Wyndham Hotels and Resorts (78).
Upper Midscale: Fairfield Inn and Suites, at 83, outscores all but two brands in the upper upscale and upscale groups. Clearly, Fairfield is doing something right — a lot of things, actually.
Other scores in this diverse group include Holiday Inn Express (80), Hampton Inn (79), Hilton Hotels and Resorts (79), Best Western Plus (77), Comfort Inn and Suites (76), Holiday Inn (75) and Quality Inn and Suites (73).
Midscale: The top midscale brand is Best Western, which ties its upper midscale Plus partner at 77. The second-best scorer in this group is La Quinta, now part of Wyndham and top scorer among all Wyndham brands at 74. The rest of the group includes Wyndham stablemates Baymont (72) and Ramada (71).
Economy: The four economy brands are the lowest scorers in the compilation: Days Inn (68), Econo Lodge (67), Super 8 (65), and Motel 6 (63).
To me, the big take-away is that travelers favor real value — the steak, not the sizzle — at all price levels.
I’ve been impressed by both the facilities and service I’ve encountered at J.W. Marriott. Embassy Suites offers great space, with door-separated living and sleeping areas and outstanding free breakfast and happy hour.
Hilton Garden Inn offers great rooms and an attractive breakfast proposition. I’ve never stayed at a Fairfield, but reports are favorable. And Best Western has been busy upgrading its core properties. As for the economy segment, this report shows “you get what you pay for.”
The seven megabrand chains cover a big chunk of the U.S. hotel marketplace and also rate pretty well against the unaffiliated remaining field.
“All others” shows a score of 73, outdoing only Wyndham and Motel 6. But that unaffiliated marketplace includes a wide range of players — from small boutique chains and independent properties, to mom-and-pop motels on highways bypassed by the Interstate.
Always check TripAdvisor reviews when you stray from the big chains.
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