USA Today reports on the University of Michigan’s American Customer Satisfaction index that essentially gives a failing grade to midprice hotels as they “had the deepest drop from 2006. The category, which study officials say includes chains such as Days Inn, Best Western and Red Roof, scored 70, down 6 points from a year ago”. AH&LA’s Joe McInerney is quoted as saying “those chains, unlike Marriott or Starwood, rely entirely on franchisees to run their properties. As a result, they have less control over the quality of customer service,”. That explanation only addresses one side of the equation. More often than not franchisors (with the exception of a two or three such as La Quinta and Red Roof Inns) are in the business of franchising only and do not own any or even manage (unlike Marriott or Starwood) hotels. That, ever so often, results in setting unrealistic expectations for customers by franchise executives in ivory towers. The fact that most customers are seldom aware of the fact that many hotels are individually owned does not help. Oddly enough, select service hotels offer far more amenities such as wireless internet access, business and fitness centers and continental breakfast for free while the big chains ring up a substantial charges for those amenities.
Nevertheless, as Peter Yesawich, chairman of travel marketing firm Yesawich Pepperdine Brown & Russell notes “about half of the business travelers his firm surveyed in 2006 responded that they are satisfied with hotels’ customer service, higher than for airlines or rental car companies. You have (the other) half who don’t agree. There’s clearly room for improvement.”