Consistently friendly staff are crucial for making guests want to return to luxury hotels

Consistently friendly staff are crucial for making guests want to return to luxury hotels

Analysis of TripAdvisor hotel reviews for three of the world’s top luxury brands reveals that “a friendly attitude” from staff is the key reason guests give for why they will visit again. More importantly, guests tend to discuss the attitudes of the staff as a whole across their entire stay, suggesting that repeat business is only more likely if high service is felt to be consistent.

TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site, hosts more than 100 million consumer reviews of travel destinations and services. As such, it is a tremendous resource for travel brands that want to understand their customers’ experience and preferences. Looking at 27 luxury hotels from three top brands – Ritz Carlton, InterContinental and Westin, WaveMetrix investigated reviews from guests who specifically mentioned that they “would go back” or “would never go back” to the hotel reviewed.

Our analysis reveals that “a nice, welcoming attitude” from staff is the key reason consumers give for re-visiting or avoiding the hotel they are reviewing, ahead of its facilities or views. Reviewers tend discuss their general impression that “staff were fantastic and welcoming” rather than praising individuals, suggesting that the most important aspect of creating a sense of luxury service is consistency.

More specifically, the front desk staff are the most discussed team, suggesting they contribute the most to the impression of high service. Service complaints that drive guests to say they “won’t come back” tend to concern individual staff members. This adds further support to the idea that a holistic luxury experience is important.

Service is paramount for consumers deciding whether or not to visit again:

Topics of discussion for reviewers who said they would return 

 Topics of discussion for reviewers who said they would return to the hotel

  • “Wonderful and attentive” service from staff who “bent over backwards to help” is the key aspect that leads travellers to say they “will go again”: Staff service accounts for around 20% of all positive consumer recommendations for hotels where travellers considered the staff “the best they’ve ever encountered”

Topics of discussion for reviewers who said they would not return

Topics of discussion for reviewers who said they would not return to the hotel

  • Poor service is also the main reason travellers “won’t be going back”: Though buzz from dissatisfied customers is low for the luxury destinations covered, 30% of criticism focuses on service. Customers complain that staff were “incompetent and slow to respond” or “not up to the standards expected”

Consumers focus on staff attitudes throughout their stay when assessing quality of service:

Service buzz by subcategory – how do reviewers discuss service?

 Service buzz by subcategory – how do reviewers discuss service?

  • The majority of service buzz focuses on praise for the “fantastic service” overall: 73% of positive service buzz concerns the overall impression guests had of “being treated like royalty” by “fantastic and friendly staff.” Others mention specific teams or individuals, with front desk staff the most frequently-praised team
  • In contrast, one-off incidents with individual staff members drive a much higher proportion of negativity: "Rude” individuals or specific instances of “poor service” are common reasons cited for putting guests off returning

Overall hotel staff buzz by subcategory – how do reviewers discuss their overall impression of staff?

Overall hotel staff by subcategory – how do reviewers discuss their overall impression of staff?

  • A “friendly attitude” is the most important aspect of overall service to consumers: Guests discussing overall service are most likely to comment on the staff's “friendly” or “happy-to-help attitude”, with competence and attentiveness less frequently cited as reasons to go back, though they are important too

Key insights

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