New ways to increase guest value without cutting rates

Value for price is consistently a top driver for guest loyalty. Last year we broke down value for price drivers by region and uncovered some interesting geographical trends. This year when tapping into our Market Metrix Hospitality Index (MMHI) we compared year-over-year value drivers by region. We found that guest perception of value is down in the Americas and Europe, and up in Asia Pacific. To improve these perceptions, we need to increase value and understand what drives value.

What Guests Value Most

Data from our MMHI product and service questions reveal how guest preferences have changed over the past year. The chart here shows the 2013 top key drivers of value for price for all three regions.

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Now that we know what guests value, let’s take a moment to interpret these findings and understand why these attributes are important:

Adequacy of Room Lighting: Lighting is the easiest thing for hotels to get right—or wrong. When a light doesn’t work, it’s noticeable and annoying, dropping value perceptions. While lighting complaints may not show up as a detriment to loyalty, it cannot be ignored.

Internet Access: Guests place a high value on Internet access making it an important part of a brand’s value proposition. But there is a lot to take into account. When trying to determine if your Internet offering is up to snuff, consider all the angles:

Is it working? What is the bandwidth like? How does a guest access the Internet? Is there a fee, or is it free?

But that’s just the beginning. A June 2013 survey by Hotels.com found that 67 percent of travelers felt that in-room Wi-Fi was the most important hotel service they look for when booking. Many guests are able to access the Internet independently via tablets and smartphones, yet according to HotelChatter.com, still a third of U.S. hotels do not have free Wi-Fi.

In order to give guests what they want, make sure your offering is in-line with their preferences. Similar to adequacy of lighting, guests don’t want a hassle; they just want it to work. Drury Hotels, a consistent satisfaction leader of the MMHI midscale segment, may have it right when they tell their guest, “Pay for Internet access? That’s like paying to use the iron!”

Comfort of Bed & Furniture: Compared to 2012, this value driver takes a more prominent role for all three regions. Guest comfort establishes a baseline for guest value. As the recession recedes and competition heats up, guests have more opportunities to travel and compare offerings. Hoteliers that held off on renovations a few years ago need to be sure they don’t get left behind.

The focal point of a guest stay remains the same—a place to sleep for a reasonable price.

Service-Offerings: Ensuring service is top-notch is key. Consistently we find that not only does “exceptional service” deliver a 10-15 percent improvement in loyalty, but that exceptional service stimulates a guest’s emotional experience, which positively affects their perceived value.

The contribution of Can-Do Attitude to value remains steady in the Americas and Europe. And guests increasingly value accuracy of reservation in both Europe and Asia Pacific.

Summary

When it comes to improving value for price, it’s about delivering the things that improve value perceptions, not just about exceeding expectations or cutting rates. In this article, we wanted to explore the top drivers that have the biggest impact on value. We learned about what guests value most about their stay: they want their lights and Internet working, their beds comfortable and for service to be stellar. But we also know that guest preferences change. In order to keep guest loyalty, referrals and recommendations strong, hotels must remain tuned-in, delivering what guests value most.

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