Dodoma Hotel

My definition of a good hotel is a place I'd stay at

Hotels fail to keep guests happy satisfaction slides again

sg_unsatisfiedMaybe it’s the complicated check-in process. The room service food may not be up to par. The gym, pool and other facilities — yech. Whatever the hotel industry is doing to drag itself out of recessionary lows, it’s not meeting guest expectations.

A new report from J.D. Power and Associates finds that guests are the most disappointed they’ve been in seven years with the check-in and check-out procedure, the food and drinks served and hotel services and facilities available. It’s also been years since they’ve been this unhappy with the rooms they’ve been offered.

Overall satisfaction is down seven points from last year, reaching 757 on a 1,000-point index. Visitors are generally happy with costs and fees, which according to researchers has the effect of masking a steep deterioration in the rest of their experience.

“Charging guests more and providing less is not a winning combination from a guest satisfaction perspective, much less a winning business strategy,” Stuart Greif, a J.D. Power vice president, said in a statement. “In short, hoteliers are falling further behind and need to catch up.”

One easy way to tick off guests: charge for Internet access. More than half (55%) of hotel

Souvenirs Hotels might call them stolen goods

image_startI was taking notes for this story on a notepad from the Ritz-Carlton Millenia hotel in Singapore when the ink in my pen from the Sheraton on the Park in Sydney, Australia, went dry. I grabbed a pencil from the Hotel Buci Latin in Paris to complete the note and then picked up a cup of coffee from a pressed-paper coaster from the Hotel Hana Maui in Hawaii.

Little reminders of these memorable trips help make my days in front of a computer a little more bearable.

But are the items I use to ply the trade legitimately obtained souvenirs? To find the line between hotel souvenirs and flat-out stealing, I consulted experts in the hotel industry, hotel operators and some of my well-traveled friends and family.

Pilfering from hotels is widespread, according to an April survey from online travel agency Orbitz. Of respondents who have stayed at a hotel from among a nationwide sample of 2,745 adults, 61% nab toiletries, 18% admitted they had taken towels, 14% swiped ashtrays and 2% stole bathrobes and bathmats.

Experts estimate that

Coffee is key to business meetings

2_28_11_SupremeCoffee7598Despite living in a digital age, business professionals still prefer face-to-face meetings. According to a recent global study by Hilton Worldwide, more than two-thirds of professionals, ranging from millennials to age 65+, overwhelmingly prefer meeting in-person over any other collaboration method. The study, which polled business professionals across the U.S., UK and China, uncovered the value of face-to-face interactions and specifically the role of coffee and tea in productive meetings.

Other survey findings included:

  • Wired up world: While Americans are well known for their coffee enthusiasm, surprisingly, the UK and China value their kick-start beverages more in the business world. More professionals in the UK (61 percent) and China (58 percent) agree that the most successful meetings happen over coffee and tea – compared to their counterparts in the U.S. (44 percent).
  • Sipping on success: Sixty-eight percent of professionals in the UK and more than half of Chinese respondents (59 percent) say that coffee and tea are important to contributing to a successful in-person meeting.
  • Brewed to perfection: Chinese professionals and U.S. millennials value the quality of coffee and tea. Fifty-four percent of

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Airbnb and Hotels Are Thriving

In mid-June, Amanda Hite, president and chief operating officer of Smith Travel Research, delivered some exciting news at an annual hospitality conference in New York: U.S. hotels were killing it. For the 12 months ending in April, hoteliers had hit all-time highs in occupancy, average daily room rates, and the money made off each room. Over the next two years, more growth was expected. This marked a stunning return from the recession, which left the lodging industry battered as businesses and households alike slashed travel budgets. “We continue to experience some of the best fundamentals that we’ve had,” Hite said.

Hotels aren’t the only players in hospitality enjoying a banner year. Late last month Airbnb, the popular alternative lodging site and poster child for the “sharing economy,” closed a $1.5 billion funding round at a towering $25.5 billion valuation. One of the biggest privates rounds ever, the new money vaulted Airbnb into the upper echelons of the ultra-elite club of billion-dollar startups. Only two other venture-backed private companies—Uber and Chinese electronics-maker Xiaomi—have valuations that are greater. Airbnb, which helps people rent out their homes and spare rooms for short stays, is expected to top $900 million

How Hotels are Embracing the Online Customer Review

When hotels began issuing a storm of lawsuits against TripAdvisor last winter, accusing the mega-review site of publishing false and misleading reviews, it seemed—after years of simmering resentment—as though a full-blown war might be on the horizon. But instead of a battle we got a détente, and a flurry of hotel companies are now announcing plans to integrate user reviews into their own websites—either through partnerships with TripAdvisor or by launching their own programs.

What’s prompting this about-face? Simple economics. A 2011 study by Boston-based global research firm Forrester found that close to 50 percent of consumers won’t book a hotel that doesn’t have online reviews. New York–based travel-research firm Phocuswright similarly reported last July that people who read online hotel reviews are 59 percent more likely to book. According to Henry Harteveldt, travel-industry analyst at Atmosphere Research Group: “At this point, every major hotel brand should be thinking about how it offers ratings and reviews on its own website.”

And they are. The trend began with Starwood, which debuted its guest review program on at the end of 2011. At press time, the site had more than 12,000 candid, unedited posts, ranging from “perfection” (the Chatwal, New York) to “very

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