If you travel for business – or even stay at hotels for vacation – you’ve probably witnessed a vast difference in the hotel experience within the past five years or so. Long gone is room service, replaced by food and drink kiosks in the lobby. Reward programs are modified as often as you change the oil in your car, and customer service? Well, hotels have followed the airlines' blueprint of customer service, and you know what dark alley that’s heading toward.
In order to expand the brands' offerings, both on new-build properties and renovated, older hotel chains have chased the traveler dollar and reduced the services and amenities provided. That is, until 2016. A recent traveler study has found that hotels are shifting their focus back to the service element. The top hotels making the biggest strides in courting the business traveler are:
- Upscale Hotel Brands: Westin; Crowne Plaza and Marriott
- Upper Mid-Price: Hampton Inns
- Midprice: LaQuinta
- Extended Stay: Residence Inn and Extended Stay America
Most of the aforementioned chains are well known by the business traveler. However, the hotel chain making the biggest impact on the vacation and business traveler is LaQuinta. La Quinta received the highest scores in midprice for corporate rate programs, physical appearance, public business amenities, in-room business amenities, personal amenities and price/value relationship.
The chain is in the early stages of several initiatives, including driving consistency in its product and in the delivery of an outstanding guest experience, as well as investing in points of differentiation from its competitors. Beginning this year, La Quinta will invest between $60 to $70 million to renovate 50 of its properties. The brand has 238 hotels in its pipeline and is focused on new properties in high-barrier-to-entry urban markets.
EDITORIAL NOTE: Having heard of the changes LaQuinta has made, this writer recently experienced the LaQuinta hotel in the most completive market in the country – Manhattan. 5th Street and 32nd Street to be precise. While the exterior was similar to other Manhattan hotels, and the room size was comparable to the Marriott, Omni and Hyatt that I have stayed at the past few years, the most noticeable thing was the price. Holiday Inn Express, located a few blocks away, offered a weekend rate of $369. The Hampton Inn, a block away, priced their nightly stay at $389, and the Hilton Garden Inn priced out at $419. The LaQuinta offered a king size room for $279, including a European style buffet breakfast. The service was outstanding, a far cry from most of the hotel service experienced before at other New York properties. It appears that at least one hotel is bumping their service commitment up, all the while keeping their prices in check.
Click here to read more about where hotels were ranked on the service front