Reading Hotelsmag.com this morning I found this article about guest satisfaction at Hotels and Extended Stay Apartments around the country.
The author cites JD Powers models and statistics that point to highest guest satisfaction for those establishments that offer free and reliable wireless internet and where they are happy with staff.
“The Staff Opinion Model, a new portion of the 2012 study, examines guest satisfaction with hotel staff by staff type across the guest experience. Overall, 56% of hotel guests have a high opinion of staff; 34% have an average opinion; and 10% have a low opinion of staff. Satisfaction is significantly higher among guests with a high opinion of hotel staff (average of 841 index points), compared with those with an average (673) or low (570) opinion of staff.
Yet it’s not just room rates that affect customer satisfaction with costs and fees; as more than one-half of guests use the Internet during their hotel stay, charges for access can drag down satisfaction. The study finds that 55% of hotel guests use the Internet during their hotel stay — an increase from 20% in 2006 — and 87% use Wi-Fi to connect. Among those that use the Internet, only 11% are charged an additional fee to connect.”
This made me reflect on how I am doing in this area. I know we offer great apartments at a great price, now I wanted to reflect on the wireless and services aspect of our offerings. I am always trying to anticipate guest needs and likes and paying attention to anything we overlook and that is brought to our attention. Anyone who works at or with CAJ House knows I am a guest advocate. One of the ways I try to deliver the best experience is by anticipating what I would want in my apartment were I away from home. One such intuition came to me when I first saw and understood the implications of a wireless modem in 2003. I thought this would be a great service enhancement to offer to our guests. Wireless internet would differentiate us from our competition and free access would further increase our value proposition in the eyes of our guests. I experimented immediately in our Worcester Street Guest House, but the coverage range of early routers was not enough to bring internet to all rooms. I did not give up: I kept following the evolution of the technology. In 2005, when more powerful extended range antennas became available, transmission coverage areas became large enough to reliably bring internet to all floors in our five story townhouses. I installed powerful and expensive antennas and in 2005 I started offering free wireless internet to all our guests. I believe I was one of the earliest adopters of free internet. I know this because at the time I was traveling a lot with my wife and every hotel, B and B we stayed in was tested by us with mixed results. If they did offer internet, it was expensive and slow. This slowness brings me to the second part of free: reliable. To be a good experience, wireless has to be reliable. I understood this by listening to guest feedback. Feedback is specially useful when things go wrong. In the early days of wireless, routers were not very reliable and I would field frequent calls for down or weak network. It was annoying and costly to call internet service providers, test and reset modems, enter endless sequences of code to change settings. This was a source of frustration for both me and my guests. I was beginning to sense that free with hassles was becoming a source of problems and maybe I should just pull the plug on free and outsource internet to an outside company. I did not want one non perfectly working element of our offerings, reflect negatively on our establishment. Plus I am a perfectionist, so I came up with the second customer service idea: a backup line from a competing service so internet would never be down at CAJ House! Now our service is free, reliable and part of the many small touches that make staying here a great experience.