Location Tops List Of Customer Purchasing Influences In New Lodging Survey

NEW YORK? Which of lodging?s bells and whistles rings loudest when it comes to perceived value? According to a recent survey by American Express and the American Hotel Foundation, it depends on who?s listening. To understand what matters most, the survey tracked end-users in the leisure, business and meeting/convention segments as part of an overall benchmarking study entitled ?American Lodging Excellence: The Key to Best Practices in the Lodging Industry.? The study documented 144 best practices in the hospitality industry and the perceptions of guests and meeting planners with regard to these practices. In examining factors that drive customer value, what emerged is hotel attributes that drive customer purchase decisions are not the same ones valued in the overall hotel experience. Giving credence to the lodging mantra, location held the number-one spot of the top 10 hotel attributes driving a customer?s purchase decision Brand name and reputation came in second with value derived from customer familiarity with the brand; perception of a positive and distinctive brand image; and positive word-of-mouth from friends, family and travel agents. The condition of the physical property, both the exterior and public spaces, came in third, with 40% of the responses referencing the cleanliness of the property. Rounding out the overall top 10 hotel attributes, purchase drivers (in descending order) are: guestroom design, value for money, service level/functional, service level/interpersonal, marketing, food and beverage-related services, and in-stay services. The survey also examined whether these purchase value drivers held across various market segments. In the leisure markets, the attributes did not differ significantly, with only value for money and guestroom design trading places from the aggregated market segments. There were differences, however, for the two business segments. Location remained supreme for transient-business customers in their purchasing decisions, while brand/ name reputation and physical aspects of the properties had essentially the same weight as in the aggregate analysis. Value for money and marketing? in particular frequent-stay programs? gained in influence, to the detriment of services. Meeting rooms? design, service and amenities came in as sources of value in the purchasing decision. Interestingly, property location dropped to seventh among meeting/ convention customers. Taking over the number-one spot was the physical property, followed by guestroom design and amenities, with service at the functional level coming into third place. Indeed, bathroom furniture and amenities received greater recognition in the number 10 slot than did marketing, which didn?t even make the top 10 for this segment. Value drivers in the hotel experience form a different set. In the aggregate, guestroom design took the number-one position among the top 10 value drivers. It was followed by physical property, interpersonal service levels, functional service levels, F&B-related services, in-stay services, location, value for money, bathroom furniture, and in last place, brand name and reputation Upon examining hotel attributes that create unique value during the hotel experience, a property?s physical assets took the lead position across all three segments. Leisure guests, however, put the greatest value on exteriors and public spaces, while both business segments place more value on a range of guestroom designs and amenities. Interpersonal (friendliness, professionalism) service came in next across the segments as having greatest value. Food and beverage services held the middle position for the segments. At mid-scale, leisure guests also placed high value on quality standards, location, value for money, bathroom, FF&E and marketing. In similar rankings, transient business guests chose quality standards, bathroom, FF&E/ amenities, location, value for money, and brand name and reputation. On the M&C side, in-stay services ranke