Despite softening market conditions, hotel guest satisfaction with economy and mid-scale properties in Europe improves

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WESTLAKE VILLAGE, CA — Even in the midst of economic conditions that have negatively impacted travelers around the globe, customer satisfaction with hotels in Europe has improved since 2007 in two key segments, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2008 European Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study (SM) released today.

The study, now in its fourth year, examines the overall satisfaction of European hotel guests based on seven measures (in order of importance): costs and fees; guest room; hotel facilities; food and beverage; check-in/check-out; hotel services and reservations. Forty-five hotel brands were measured and ranked in four segments: upper upscale, upscale, mid-scale full service and economy.

In particular, customer satisfaction in the economy and mid-scale full service hotel segments has increased considerably since 2007, driven primarily by improvements in the hotel facilities and costs and fees measures. 2008 marks the second year in which satisfaction has improved in the economy segment. Satisfaction has remained stable since 2007 in the upper upscale and upscale segments.

“Economic concerns are leading cost-conscious travelers to increasingly select economy and mid-scale full-service hotels, which have performed well in fulfilling customer expectations,” said Jim Gaz, senior director of the travel practice at J.D. Power and Associates. “Upscale properties are continuing to deliver high levels of customer satisfaction in 2008, as they have in past years. All of this is good news for travelers and hotel chains in Europe. At the same time, however, it is important for hotel brands to remain diligent about maintaining these levels of service, even if the economic environment remains challenging for some time. In order to remain competitive during tough economic times, it will become particularly important for brands to provide reliable and consistently high levels of service not only from property to property, but also from country to country.”

The study finds that there are considerable differences in satisfaction levels between travelers from various major European countries. On average, hotel guests from Germany, Italy and France are more satisfied than guests who live in other countries. Travelers from the United Kingdom and Spain are the least satisfied. In comparison, travelers who reside within the United States are considerably more satisfied overall with hotels in North America, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2008 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Study.

Upper Upscale Segment

Steigenberger Hotels and Resorts ranks highest in the upper upscale segment, performing particularly well in six of seven measures driving overall satisfaction: costs and fees; hotel facilities; food and beverage; check-in/check-out; hotel services and reservations. Maritim Hotels and Hilton Hotels, respectively, follow in the segment rankings.

Upscale Segment

Among upscale hotel brands, Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts improves considerably from 2007 to rank highest in guest satisfaction in 2008. Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts performs particularly well in six of seven measures: guest room; hotel facilities; food and beverage; check-in/check-out; hotel services and reservations. Following in the segment rankings are Iberostar Hotels & Resorts and Mercure Hotels, respectively. Iberostar Hotels & Resorts performs particularly well in the cost and fees factor.

Mid-Scale Full Service Segment

In the mid-scale full service segment, Dorint Hotels & Resorts ranks highest, performing particularly well in five of seven measures: hotel facilities; food and beverage; check-in/check-out; hotel services and reservations. Clarion and Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts follow in the segment rankings, in a tie. Clarion Hotels performs particularly well in the guest room and cost and fees measures.

Economy Segment

In the economy segment, Premier Inn ranks highest, performing particularly well in four of the seven measures: reservations; check-in/check-out; guest room and costs and fees. Tulip Inns follows Premier Inn in the rankings, performing particularly well in the food and beverage and hotel facilities measures.

Additional Key Findings

· The number of European hotel guests who say they prefer a non-smoking hotel environment has increased considerably during the past two years—from 69 percent in 2006 to 84 percent in 2008. Hotel guests who reside in Spain are the most likely to report preference for non-smoking hotel environments, with 93 percent saying they desire non-smoking hotels, compared with residents of other European countries.

· The percentage of European hotel guests who report paying for parking has increased from 15 percent in 2007 to 23 percent in 2008.

· Fewer than one in ten (9%) of European hotel guests report being loyal to a particular hotel brand, compared with 16 percent of hotel guests in North America who say the same.

· Overall, the top “must-have” amenity desired by European hotel guests is air conditioning. Rounding out the top five most-desired hotel amenities are complimentary breakfast, wireless Internet access, soundproof windows and free parking.

The 2008 European Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study is based on responses from more than 13,200 guests who stayed at a hotel in Europe between June and September 2008. The study was fielded between July and September 2008.

For more information, to read an article or view European hotel ratings, visit JDPower.com.