J.D. Power: Guest satisfaction dips at branded hotels

The J.D. Power 2021 North America Third-Party Hotel Management Guest Satisfaction Benchmark found a decline in overall guest satisfaction driven by reduced food-and-beverage and staff service. The benchmark, which evaluates guest satisfaction with branded hotels that are operated by the largest third-party management companies, found that guest satisfaction remains stable for amenities such as Wi-Fi, pools and fitness centers. Perceptions of value for money also are unchanged compared with the prepandemic benchmark released in 2020. The 2021 benchmark consists of six factors (in alphabetical order): arrival/departure; cost and fees; food and beverage; guest room; hotel facilities; and services and amenities. 

Related: J.D. Power report examines satisfaction with management groups

“As hotel demand increases, guests are expressing not just a desire, but an expectation of a return to brand standards,” Andrea Stokes, hospitality practice lead at J.D. Power, said in a statement. “In the presence of lingering state and local restrictions and labor shortages, that can be a challenge for management companies. As we emerge from the worst of the pandemic, third-party operators have an opportunity to incorporate guest feedback into policies and training to ensure that staff can manage through these challenges without sacrificing guest service.”

Stokes told Hotel Management the survey found pandemic-related shifts in guest satisfaction across both full-service and limited-service hotel segments. “Once hotels were able to ramp up health and safety protocols last year, guests were generally very satisfied with safety.” As for hotel profitability, Stokes expects to see branded hotels to return to a more steady state, “but owners and operators should continuously monitor guest expectations that are driven by a desire for a return to normalcy and consistency while traveling.”


The benchmark ranked Atrium Hospitality highest in overall customer satisfaction with a score of 863 (on a 1,000-point scale). Atrium performed “particularly well” in the rankings for food and beverage; services and amenities; hotel facilities; and cost and fees. The company, which operates more than 80 hotels in 28 states, gained three points in the 2021 benchmark and moved up from the second-place position it held last year

To maintain service standards at the company’s hotels, Atrium Hospitality President Daniel Abernethy, said managers trained team members to work across multiple hotel departments. “During any given day, many of our [associates] could be found checking in guests, doing laundry and working in food and beverage during their shifts,” he said. The company also held weekly video conferences for updates on performance, brand and industry news and recent trends. 

White Lodging (858) ranked second and Crestline Hotels & Resorts (855) ranked third on this year’s survey. The benchmark average was 841.

The benchmark includes third-party operators with more than 14,000 rooms under management and is based on 3,085 guest responses for branded hotel stays from May 2020 through June 2021. This is the second year of this benchmark.

J.D. Power 2021 North America Third-Party Hotel Management Guest Satisfaction Benchmark
(J.D. Power 2021 North America Third-Party Hotel Management Guest Satisfaction Benchmark)