In a recently issued report on travel-related industries, the ACSI analyzes customer opinions concerning the experience offered by nearly 30 popular hotel chains—from budget brands to luxury resorts and everything in between. As expected, the view from a room at price-conscious Econ Lodge (overall ACSI score of 67 on 0-100 scale) or a midscale property such as Ramada Inn (70) stands in sharp contrast to the accommodations of a Ritz-Carlton hotel (86).
But when guests select lodgings that are categorized as either upper midscale, upscale, or upper upscale, their satisfaction level may be quite similar—regardless of which brand or which category they choose.
For the hotel industry, the ACSI measures nine customer experience elements, such as ease of making reservations, check-in processes, staff courtesy, and loyalty programs. Across all six lodging types, reservation and check-in processes receive strong customer ratings in the 80s. Likewise, guests feel that hotel staff members are courteous and helpful (scores ranging from 82 to 90).
Greater differences emerge for aspects such as quality of amenities or quality of food service, with about 20 points separating the economy and luxury categories. By contrast, guests evaluating upper midscale, upscale, and upper upscale properties see less variation in items like pools, business centers, fitness rooms, mini-bars, restaurants, and room service.
The field tightens further for two ratings that focus in on guest rooms: cleanliness and comfort and in-room entertainment. In the three “upper” categories, guests find the room quality to be nearly cookie-cutter. The 10-point difference between midscale and luxury shrinks to a mere 2 points between upper midscale and upper upscale. Likewise, in-room entertainment spans only 3 points from both upper midscale and upscale to upper upscale. Given this lack of differentiation, brands that can rise above the current standard in these categories may gain an upper hand on their direct competitors.