The study, which is part of the CHR's Industry Perspectives series, examines the structural differences in guest satisfaction in eight different nations. The study, "Lost in Translation: Cross-country Differences in Hotel Guest Satisfaction," by Gina Pingitore, Weihua Huang, and Stuart Greif, is available at no charge. Pingitore is vice president and chief research officer at J.D. Power, where Weihua Huang is director of corporate research and Stuart Greif is vice president and general manager of diversified industries practice.
"We noticed that hotels in different nations receive consistently different satisfaction scores, but that cannot be a result of the hotels' operations," said Pingitore. "So we conducted this study using two years of data for nearly 200,000 hotel guests in eight nations. This gave us a window into the various characteristics of hotel guests—and particularly the factors that they use to determine their hotel satisfaction." The nations studied are Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Although guests from these nations have many similarities, the study identified certain key differences in the importance of guest satisfaction drivers, as well as specific hotel standard operating procedures that are more important to guests in some of the nations than in others.
Guests in all nations looked at location first, for example, and most said price was the number-two item for selecting a hotel. But guests in Italy put reputation in second place, and those from Spain relied on their previous experience as the second criterion. Package deals were important for hotel guests in Japan, but not for those from other nations. An important finding for international chains is that residents of some countries consistently express generally higher levels of satisfaction than those in other countries. So, for instance, guests from the Canada and the United States provided the highest ratings, while guests from Japan provided ratings that were lower than those of other nations (with other factors equal).
On the other hand, guests from the United States appeared to be far less patient than all the others. Taking check-in times as an example, satisfaction levels for guests from the United States dropped noticeably after a wait time of just five minutes, while guests from Japan allowed an average of 30 minutes before expressing considerable reduced satisfaction.
"What we see is that international chains need to take into account these differences in countries," Pingitore concluded. "This is particularly true when comparing hotels in various nations, as well as in terms of designing service processes."
A unit of the Cornell School of Hotel Administration, The Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) sponsors research designed to improve practices in the hospitality industry. Under the lead of the center's 76 corporate affiliates, experienced scholars work closely with business executives to discover new insights into strategic, managerial and operating practices. To learn more about the center and its projects, visit www.chr.cornell.edu.
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