Comparing Four Seasons to W?
J.D. Power and Associates released the results of its latest guest satisfaction study in the United States. If I were reading the results strictly as the well-traveled consumer that I am, I would shrug my shoulders and say, ?I don?t get it.?
I am not trying to diminish the quality of W and Loews hotels and please try to persuade me otherwise, but would you put these brands in the luxury category to compare be alongside luxury powerhouses Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons? And where is renowned Peninsula, by the way? Do they not get a mention because not enough consumers in the survey sample can afford to stay there?
The ?upscale? category includes Aloft and Doubletree. Both are nice brands, but would you compare them to the likes of full-service Marriotts, Hyatts and Westins? I could go on, but I will stop right here as I think you get the point.
While in all fairness I have not contacted J.D. Power for an explanation about how they categorize brands (and what consumer would?), head-scratching results like these only serve to bring more credibility to the likes of online, consumer-driven review formats offered by the likes of TripAdvisor and Yelp.
While I on the subject, I am curious to get your take on what the future hold for the award programs like AAA and Forbes, and for how much longer will consumers give credence to lists presented by the consumer travel magazine? Do they continue to resonate with consumers under the age of 50? Will guide books be worth the paper they are printed on in the near future? For anyone under the age of 35, I think they would answer that question with a very blunt, ?no.? They value realtime, direct consumer feedback more than anything else, and hoteliers must find a way to build their brands around these “marketing” vehicles.
I think this trend also has to mean that hotel award and recognition programs must be reinvented online in the near future to be considered viable. I know one of the well-known programs is working on that very model, and it could become compelling if participants are properly qualified and hotel brands are more appropriately segmented. Until then, I will continue to read these results and shrug?and I am over 50.