Sunday musings: Hotel satisfaction rises, luggage tactics, airline profits up and service down

Mackinac Grand Hotel 01

J.D. Power Reports: Hotel satisfaction reaches record high

Even with hotel fees rising and room rates increasing, it seems that hotel guests are happier than ever with what they are purchasing. Plus, younger clients may be more and more loyal than seasoned travelers even though they are more critical.

Overall satisfaction in 2014 averages 784 points on a 1000-point scale, up 27 points from 2012, with significant improvement in all segments except upper extended stay and extended stay, where satisfaction remains stable. The midscale segment posts the largest year-over-year improvement, increasing by 10 points to 801, which is the first time satisfaction in the segment has surpassed 800 points.

The study finds that Gen Y guests (Millennials) are more critical of their hotel stay but, despite popular sentiment, not necessarily less loyal. Among Gen Y guests whose stay at the hotel they evaluated was their first experience with the brand, overall satisfaction is 29 points lower than among those who have a previous experience with the brand they evaluated (758 vs. 787, respectively).

Do you consider yourself loyal to a particular hotel brand?

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New tactics in the fight against stolen luggage

The Wall Street Journal reports on changes to baggage handling and claims that the number of lost bags has decreased. I am not sure whether the number of lost luggage is down because fewer passengers are checking bags due to hefty checked baggage fees, or because of better handling?

Here are baggage tips they added after a litany of lost and stolen baggage stories.

Never put valuables in checked luggage, especially small items easily pocketed like jewelry, pens and small electronics.

Avoid expensive, fancy luggage. Thieves figure if the bag is expensive, the contents may be, too.

Be careful when you have to check a bag at the gate because overhead bins are full. People often forget to take out computers, phones, jewelry and prescription drugs in the chaos of boarding. Baggage handlers with sticky fingers know that.

Get to the baggage claim area before your bag. Tie a colorful ribbon on it so you can spot it among all the other black bags.

Inspect the contents right away, especially if the bag missed your flight and got delivered late. Some airlines are persnickety about how quickly losses are reported.

Tell the police. Detectives say many losses go unreported. Police look for patterns, and knowing how often items are being stolen can pressure airlines and airports into action.

Make sure your bag is tagged to the correct final destination. Mishandled bags face higher risk of theft, airlines say, because there is more unsupervised opportunity to steal.

Airline profits climb, customer service dives

Airlines are making bigger profits than ever before in history, but customer service is worse than ever for the great majority of travelers. Passengers are treated as profit centers rather than customers. Any flexibility with regards to passengers has been eliminated for all but those who fly in the front of the plane and elite members of frequent flyer clubs. Travel Weekly asks the airlines to, “Show us what you’ve got.” when it comes to delivering better on-time performance, passenger comfort and customer service.

Dear airlines: You’ve turned the corner. You no longer have an excuse to skimp on service and blame your inadequacies on pesky competitors, fuel arbitrageurs, government regulators or the pencil-pushers in your own accounting departments.

You can afford to make the investments that will make flying at least tolerable, such as on-time arrivals, comfortable seats, service with a smile and all that stuff from your corny advertisements of yesteryear. (Oh, yes, you know the ones. They’re on YouTube.)

  • Stephen0118

    Hotel loyalty: It really depends where I’m going. If I go to Vegas, usually I like to stay at the Signature at MGM Grand, but if I want to stay away from the strip, I’ll try to stay at the Hampton Inn in Summerlin.