What Do Hotel Guests Really Want? Anticipated Versus Actual Use of Amenities


Cornell University
October 2018

Hotel amenities are a multi-billion dollar business worldwide. Carefully curating hotel amenities into a compelling value proposition to attract guests is a key responsibility of brand managers, hotel owners, and operators. Knowing which amenities will be most valued by guests is an ongoing challenge for hotel business professionals as guests’ needs are constantly evolving.

The Importance of Hotel Amenities

What, when, and how many amenities to provide has long been a point of discussion between hotel owners and brand managers. A key issue is to determine what amenities should be offered as elements of a brand’s identity. This is critical because amenities clearly fig- ure into a guest’s initial decision to book a hotel room, and (perhaps even more consequentially) whether to return to that hotel. As part of that analysis, hoteliers need to determine which amenities guests actually use during their stay, in part because of the cost of providing unused amenities.

The matter of which amenities guests say they want, as compared to those they actually use, is an important issue, because once an amenity is added to a hotel’s product offering that amenity can soon become part of the “definition” of a hotel room. For example, 80 years ago, air conditioning was a novel selling point. In the 1960s, the availability of in-room television was a fresh idea. Today, it would be rare to find rooms without both.

The industry’s amenities contest continues to the present day. In 1983, for instance, high-end hotels experimented with importing the idea of concierge service from Europe. This was a hit. More recently, hoteliers’ attention has returned to bathroom and in-room amenities, an area that has long held manage- ment’s attention.

Two issues surround the question of which ame- nities hotels should consider offering. The first issue is the question of what amenities guests say that they want. However, more to the point is the issue of which of those amenities they actually use, a matter that is examined in this study. Distinguishing answers to these questions is important, because hoteliers need to know which amenities play a role in guests’ purchase and repurchase decisions.


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