Tourism Industry News

Consumer Reports Hotel Survey: More Than 27,000 Travelers Rate 48 Popular Chains

04/05/2010 12:15

Yonkers, N.Y. (PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The rough economy has taken its toll on the hospitality industry and Consumer Reports Hotel Survey finds there are good hotel choices for every budget. Readers found The Ritz-Carlton, Homewood Suites, Renaissance, Drury Inn & Suites, and Microtel Inn & Suites were among the most satisfying of 48 chains in their respective categories.

Consumer Reports hotel ratings are broken into five categories: Fanciest, Luxury, Upscale, Moderate and Budget. Travelers' expectations differ by category, but some moderate hotels pleased readers almost as much as the epitome of ritz, the Ritz-Carlton. Even the budget category had one winner: Microtel Inn & Suites which topped its category again. Microtel was top of its class in CR's last hotel survey.


"The hospitality landscape has changed a lot since our last survey in 2006. Low occupancy and other factors are forcing some chains to cut back on services, but it also means consumers have an opportunity to find a great deal on some highly rated hotels," said Tod Marks, sr. project editor at


Consumer Reports.
The Consumer Reports National Research Center surveyed 27,506 subscribers who spent a collective 124,000 nights at 48 chains across all five categories from January 2008 to April 2009. Here's what Consumer Reports found:

  --  It pays to haggle. Only 35 percent of respondents tried to negotiate
      for a better deal, but those who did were rewarded with a lower rate
      or room upgrade 80 percent of the time. That's a slightly higher
      success rate than readers experienced in Consumer Reports 2006 survey.
      Those who called ahead to do their haggling were even more successful
      than those who tried to negotiate in person.
  --  Booking method doesn't affect satisfaction. There was no correlation
      between respondents' happiness with their hotel stay and how they
      booked it. Satisfaction was similar whether they called the hotel
      directly, used the hotel's Web site, phoned the chain's toll-free
      number, used an independent travel site, or walked in off the street
      without a reservation.
  --  Suites have advantages. For approximately the same price as a regular
      room, the lodgings in an all-suite hotel give a more spacious, homey
      feeling. Respondents singled out Homewood Suites and Drury Inn &
      Suites as well-maintained and exceptional values. Suite hotels come in
      different price levels, and suites are sometimes an option at standard
  --  Some beds are better than others. Many high-end chains boast about
      their plush mattresses and lush linens. Survey respondents cited the
      Ritz-Carlton, Renaissance and Westin as having the best beds and
      bedding. Conversely, at least 11 percent of guests (three times the
      average) at Howard Johnson, Travelodge, and Americas Best Value Inn
      complained that their beds were so uncomfortable that they couldn't
      get a good night's sleep.
  --  Most "bargain" hotels aren't. Respondents who stayed at a budget hotel
      said they were drawn by cheap rates. But except for Microtel, budget
      hotels continue to earn the lowest scores for value, upkeep, and  ease
      of checking in and out. They also generate a disproportionate
      percentage of complaints about bedding, lighting, decor, and heating
      and air conditioning. Travelodge, Econo Lodge, and the misnamed
      Americas Best Value Inn, a newcomer to CR's Ratings, were consistently
      among the most trouble-prone.

  Tips to Find a Great Rate:

Changing supply and demand makes prices a moving target, so it still takes a savvy shopper to unearth the best bargains. Consumer Reports June issue offers 10 tips to finding a better hotel rate and saving some cash. Here are a few of the highlights:

  --  Wing it. Respondents who appeared unannounced paid about $20 less per
      night for comparable accommodations, on average, than those who made a
      reservation ahead of time. Travelers who really want to play
      "chicken," ask the desk clerk for the lowest possible rate, then say
      you're taking your business elsewhere. If occupancy is exceptionally
      low, the clerk might invoke the "fade" rate, an option coming into
      play more often. It's the bare minimum the chain will accept for a
      room, as an alternative to leaving it unoccupied.  If you're willing
      to roll the dice and show up late in the day without a reservation,
      you could hit the jackpot--or end up sleeping in your car.
  --  Become a fan. More chains are becoming involved in social-networking
      sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Fans or followers of a chain will
      be notified of upcoming promotions and specials as soon as they're
  --  Consider a discount-travel Web site.  Our survey showed that discount
      site such as Priceline and Hotwire were the only surefire way to
      consistently reap substantially lower room rates. Respondents who
      reserved a room at an upscale hotel through a discounter paid an
      average daily rate of $80. Those who phoned the hotel or booked online
      by other means paid about $120 for a comparable room. But discount Web
      sites aren't ideal for everyone because the identity of your hotel
      doesn't become known until after you complete a nonrefundable
  --  Lock in a rate. If you're traveling to a popular destination at a peak
      time, call around and surf the Internet for price quotes from three to
      five hotels long before your trip. Then lock in the lowest refundable
      rate. As your departure date nears, try another sweep. If you find
      something better, cancel your original reservation in time to avoid a
  --  Look for specials. Given the poor economy hotel Web sites are loaded
      with limited-time offers. Among those that caught CR's eye: a $100 gift card for every two nights' stay at a Westin; an
      additional night at half-price for every night you stay at a Sheraton
      Four Points; and a 15 percent discount when you book at least eight
      days in advance at Super 8.

For complete Ratings for upkeep, service comfort in value on all 48 chains, money saving advice and tips to avoid hotel fees and traps, visit or check out a copy of the June issue of Consumer Reports on newsstands May 4, 2010.


JUNE 2010

Consumers Union 2010. The material above is intended for legitimate news entities only; it may not be used for advertising or promotional purposes. Consumer Reports® is published by Consumers Union, an expert, independent nonprofit organization whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to protect themselves. We accept no advertising and pay for all the products we test. We are not beholden to any commercial interest. Our income is derived from the sale of Consumer Reports®,® and our other publications and information products, services, fees, and noncommercial contributions and grants. Our Ratings and reports are intended solely for the use of our readers. Neither the Ratings nor the reports may be used in advertising or for any other commercial purpose without our permission. Consumers Union will take all steps open to it to prevent commercial use of its materials, its name, or the name of Consumer Reports®.

Source: Consumer Reports


CONTACT: C. Matt Fields of Consumer Reports, +1-914-378-2454,

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