Meeting Mentor Magazine

September 2023

Just How Important Are Those Hotel Amenities?

What do hotel guests really want? Recent research from the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research studied 50 hotel amenities and found a disconnect between what guests — including business travelers such as meeting participants — say they want and what they actually use once they’re on site. For example, that to-die-for spa experience? It sounds good on paper and looks enticing on the website, but spas, along with alarm clocks and evening in-room dining options, ranked high on the “overpredicted” list of amenities that sound good but were used less than people predicted.

One finding that won’t surprise anyone who hasn’t lived up to the determination to keep up a fitness routine while on the road: 14 percent thought having in-room fitness equipment would be a great alternative to using the fitness center, but only 1 percent actually pumped those in-room weights. That doesn’t mean they all flocked to the gym though. Less than half of the 46 percent who planned to work out at the fitness center actually did so.

Many of the most overpredicted amenities were technology-related. For example, 43 percent more of the respondents thought they would use in-room Wi-Fi than actually logged on, and 36 percent fewer used the free Wi-Fi in the hotel lobby than said they expected to. Wake-up calls and alarm clock usage also were wildly overpredicted, most likely because people are now using their smartphones or other personal devices instead, the report theorized.

On the flip side, the 724 study participants who stayed at hotels in the upscale, upper upscale and luxury segments in 2018 ended up using some amenities that they didn’t initially think they would. Bellhops were used 50 percent more often than people anticipated, and over half of respondents used lobby seating more than they thought they would. But valet parking was the most underpredicted amenity, with 64 percent more people saying they used it than had expected to.

Study participants were much more accurate when it came to predicting basic amenity use, such as a closet, in-room TV, desk and hair dryer.

As one might expect, business travelers planned to, and did, make more use of the business center, in-room Wi-Fi, electronic checkout and boarding pass printing than did leisure guests. And a dip in the pool? While half of leisure guests predicted they’d use the pool, and 40 percent did so, 21 percent of business guests said they planned to get a swim in during their stay — and only 6 percent actually got their toes wet.

While the full report, available here, is designed to help hoteliers decide which amenities are most important to guests, the authors caution not to discontinue overpredicted amenities without thinking it through. The research found that even the most overpredicted amenities are valued and used by many.

In addition to giving meeting professionals some insight into what hotel amenities their attendees think they want and which ones they actually use, the idea behind this research also could be extended to the meeting itself. One possibility to consider: Doing a similar before-and-after survey of attendees to discover which of the meeting’s “amenities” they anticipated would be important to them — from the keynote speaker to sunrise yoga to the networking reception — and what they actually ended up attending and finding valuable. There could very well be some unanticipated disconnects that planners could use to improve the attendee experience in the ballroom as well as the guest room. — Sue Pelletier

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ConferenceDirect is a global meetings solutions company offering site selection/contract negotiation, conference management, housing & registration services, mobile app technology and strategic meetings management solutions. It provides expertise to 4,400+ associations, corporations, and sporting authorities through our 400+ global associates.

About MeetingMentor
MeetingMentor, is a business journal for senior meeting planners that is distributed in print and digital editions to the clients, prospects, and associates of ConferenceDirect, which handles over 13,000 worldwide meetings, conventions, and incentives annually.

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