Business Travelers Rank Hotels

Business travelers increasingly like where they stay, according to the Business Travel News 2014 Hotel Chain Survey.

Of the 53 hotel brands rated by 368 corporate travel buyer respondents, only nine had total scores that were lower than they were in 2013. Scores were flat at three brands and up across the rest. Many of the highest increases included “upper upscale” and luxury hotels, making up for their drop last year.

At the same time, buyers are facing a challenging hotel negotiating season, with the average corporate negotiated hotel rate in the U.S. for 2015 projected to increase about 6% year-over-year, according to an analysis by New York University’s Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management. Perhaps not so coincidentally, hotels this year are investing more capital back into their properties than ever before.

Three of the nine brands that decreased in total score—Wingate and Hyatt Place, which were down marginally, and Kimpton, which had the largest year-over-year drop of any brand—were the top brands in 2013. Two of the year’s top brands, Mandarin Oriental and Best Western, are well-established names that achieved the highest scores in their tiers for the first time in the history of the survey.

Despite sitting at a price point higher than many of its competitors in the upper tier, Omni earned the top score for overall price/value relationship.

In the upper upscale brands, the top five brands are Marriott, Omni, Westin, Hyatt and Renaissance. In the upscale brands, the top five spots go to Courtyard, Doubletree, Hyatt Place, Crowne Plaza and Aloft.

Among multi-brand hotel companies, Marriott International had the strongest performance this year, with three of its brands (Marriott, Courtyard and Residence Inn) earning top scores in their tiers.

InterContinental Hotels Group was the only other major multi-brand company with a brand that received the top rating in its tier via the Candlewood Suites brand. Hilton Worldwide also fared well, having the second-highest-rated brand in three tiers and the third-highest-rated brand in one, as well as above-average total scores for all but one of its brands.

One criterion changed this year: Travelers rated “quality of public business amenities” in lieu of “quality of business center” to reflect the more integrated and social approach many brands now take in offering business-related services, as well as the decrease in traditional walled-off business centers with desktop computers and printers.