The key to comfort
Where are you checking-in?

They say Americans are not avid travelers. While that may be true for international trips, given that less than 40% of Americans have a passport, the same may not apply for domestic travel. After all, a whopping 1.8 billion Americans took domestic leisure trips in 2018 alone. A look at the busy airports and roads, especially during the holiday season is enough to put this figure in perspective.

And if there is one other thing that travelers most look forward to, besides their holiday itinerary, it’s a comfortable stay. Given the burst in travel demand over the last decade, the hotel industry in America has seen a major uptick; not just in the number of new hotels, but also in the aggressive expansion of hotel chains. But the growth has not been without its share of criticisms, especially with customer service and expectations having reached its peak. So what do Americans think about their hotel experiences, and which hotel brands have managed to make the best impression? Piplsay (powered by Market Cube) finds out.

Americans may be taking fewer vacations, but when they do take one, they seem to do it in style. For the first time, upscale hotels have topped the list of places that Americans like to check-in, zooming past even budget accommodations, an all-time favorite. This, however, is not surprising, given that Americans today are not only living better lives but are also keen on enjoying the finer things in life. It’s little wonder then, that, the hospitality industry today is busy catering to different levels of aspirations.

But despite hotels being in such good demand, it’s not an easy fight. Given the travel boom, hotels are not only competing with one another but also with the many private accommodation spaces growing by leaps and bounds. Increasingly, homestays and Air BnB’s are becoming the go-to places for many, not just for the hotel like comfort they often provide but also for the more authentic personal and local experience they offer.

Between 2009 to 2017, the US hotel industry saw a steady incline with gross bookings growing from $116 billion to $185 billion*

But this very aspect seems to have worked well for the hotel industry, at least in terms of customer satisfaction. For a while, the industry ratings have been falling as customer complaints piled up, especially with regards to room maintenance and staff behavior. But as revealed by the Piplsay survey, consumers today seem much happier with their overall hotel experience. Not caught up in the trend of venting on social media, close to 70% Americans raise their complaints at the hotel, with an equal percentage having had most of their issues resolved on time

But it’s unlikely we will hear about it as 7 out of 10 customers do not post reviews of their stay, except when they have an extremely good or bad experience. Surprisingly, food and staff behavior, two aspects that hotels emphasize a lot on, figure low in the list of priorities during bookings. At the end of it, people seem to be more concerned about the quality of the rooms and the money they spend on them.

Today, there are over 54,200 hotel properties in the US, with hotel chains accounting for more than 70% of the over 5 million rooms**

Hotel chains make up a large proportion of travel accommodation in America, with a handful of groups like InterContinental, Wyndham, Marriott, Hilton, and Choice Hotels holding the key to millions of hotel rooms across the country. Spread across categories -from upscale, full-service to mid-scale business models and even budget accommodations- the hotel groups not only boast of their signature brand but also other popular properties like Clarion, Holiday Inn, Super 8, and Quality Inn, among several others.

The increase in travel spending, corporate profit, and general consumer spending have resulted in a huge upswing for the US Hotels and Motels industry. And the trend is likely to continue given the expected increase in domestic trips in the coming years. Today, travel is not just about where you are going, but also about where you are staying. And Americans certainly seem spoilt for choice in that regard.

Source: Based on 79,000 online responses; *Deloitte; **ahla

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