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As Guests Return, Keeping Them Happy Becomes Challenge

Many of the usual suspects are back on top of this year’s North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study from J.D. Power and Associates, but what is somewhat surprising is overall guest satisfaction increased in all six segments. It’s a credit to savvy hotel owners and operators who have been forced to cut costs (and staff) to survive the worst downturn in the industry’s history, yet still managed to find a way to keep their customers happy.

The real challenge will be during the ongoing recovery as occupancy returns while rate continues to lag. Will any of the programs or employees slashed be brought back or will properties be stretched even thinner? Scott Steilen, a principal of asset management firm Warnick + Co., noted during the recent Midwest Lodging Investors Summit that operations have been scraped to the bone and can’t become a permanent thing. But if rate and revenue aren’t returning as quickly as guests, what will give?

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