The Hotel Chains With the Best Customer Satisfaction Ratings

When choosing a hotel, it’s good to consider amenities, hospitality, and quality in addition to price. These brands and chains are the hotels with the highest customer satisfaction marks for 2017.

According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index’s new travel report, people are generally more satisfied with hotels than they were a year ago. Services like Airbnb and the general fragmentation of the hotel market give travelers plenty of options for places to stay, so hotels have to stay at the top of their game to retain customers. According to the report, the hotel companies with highest customer satisfaction are:

  1. Hilton with a score of 81
  2. Hyatt with a score of 80
  3. Marriott with a score of 80
  4. Starwood (Marriott) with a score of 79
  5. InterContinental with a score of 78

Following close behind is Best Western, La Quinta, Choice, Wyndham, and at the bottom is G6 Hospitality (Motel 6). But knowing the best companies doesn’t necessarily help you pick the best hotels while you’re traveling. If…

Putting the Front Desk in the Hotel Guest’s Pocket

When Lenette and Charlie Frye arrived recently at the Four Seasons in Orlando, Fla., for a two-night stay, they spotted an iPad loaded with the hotel’s app that they could use to order food, call for their car or read about activities in the hotel.

“You do it all yourself,” said Ms. Frye, 30, who manages a student living community in Gainesville, Fla. She and Mr. Frye, 35, a consultant for the University of Florida and former professional football player, travel frequently and liked the convenience of not having to pick up the phone.

While apps are not new in the hotel industry, the use of them and other tech tools has grown exponentially in the last five years as hoteliers seek new ways to meet the needs of guests, gain repeat customers, differentiate their brands and, ultimately, increase revenue.

And since the hotel tools are available at all hours, hotel experts say they may go a long way toward keeping guests happy and avoiding negative reviews on social media and websites like TripAdvisor.

Hotels are spending as much as 6 percent of total revenue on technology, according to Hospitality Technology’s 2017 Lodging Technology Study. Titled “Frictionless Hotels: Enabling the Omni-Experience, the study said that 57 percent of hotels planned to spend more on technology this year than they did in 2016, while 42 percent planned to spend about the same and just 2 percent said they would decrease their I.T. spending.

Hotel occupancy rates in the United States are at 65.5 percent, the highest since 1984, said Bjorn Hanson, a professor of hospitality and tourism at the Tisch Center of New York University. Though they had typically been slow to adopt new technologies, hotels are seeing a place for tech tools to make sure that guests’ needs are met.

“They’re trying to improve the guest experience by doing things on the guests’ terms instead of the hotel’s,” said Gregg Hopkins, chief sales and marketing officer for Intelity Corporation, which creates technology products for hotels, including companies like the Four Seasons, Loews, Conrad and Pacific Hospitality Group. “It drives loyalty and drives repeat business and drives revenue.”

“Hotels need to stay engaged with the guest from the time they make the reservation until they check out and check in again,” Mr. Hopkins said. “They need to differentiate what they do for the guest.”

In the last five years alone, communication with Marriott International from mobile devices has quadrupled, said George Corbin, senior vice president for digital at the hotel chain. In addition, 75 percent of all Marriott guests used a smartphone, tablet or laptop during their most recent stay. “This space is…

Which Credit Card Should You Use to Get Free Hotel Stays?

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If your goal is earning free hotel stays, it’s hard to know which type of rewards card to get. While co-branded hotel credit cards are an obvious pick, general-purpose travel credit cards that let you redeem points for different kinds of travel rewards can work well for free hotel stays, too.

Which card is best? It depends on your travel style and vacation goals. Let’s dig into both types of cards to see how they work, whom they’re best for, and where they fall flat.

Co-Branded Hotel Credit Cards

Each major hotel chain — Hyatt, Carlson, Marriott, IHG, Hilton, and the like — offers a unique set of options. Where IHG only has one co-branded hotel credit card, Hilton has several. Some hotel brands offer co-branded business cards, too, giving you even more ways to rack up points.

These co-branded cards have several benefits and drawbacks, compared to more flexible travel rewards cards.

Focused Strategy Generally Nets Extra Points and Perks

Hotel credit cards can offer great value if you’re an enthusiast for a specific chain. If your family always stays at Hiltons, for example, getting the Citi Hilton HHonors might be smart. Not only do you get automatic Gold status just for being a cardholder, but you can quickly earn points on stays for free nights. Co-branded cards generally offer very high bonus points for stays at its properties. They also often feature generous sign-up bonuses that can cover free stays for a few nights. (See also: Tips for Using Hotel Reward Points to Get the Most Value)

You’re Stuck With One Chain

The downside with hotel credit cards is that they aren’t as flexible as general travel credit cards. With a co-branded hotel credit card, you can only book free nights at a hotel within that chain. So, if your travel plans change or you want to try a different hotel brand, you might be out of luck.

Award Availability May Be Limited

Another downside with hotel credit cards is that even though most major hotel brands advertise “no blackout dates” for award nights, they still may limit award availability. So, even if you have the points to burn, you may not be able to use them for the exact dates you…