Harvard Research: Hotel Guest Sleep and Overall Hotel Satisfaction: Opportunity for Hoteliers Interested in Improving the Guest Sleep Experience

Although hotels at their most basic level provide a venue for sleeping, many guests suffer from insomnia or disrupted sleep on the road, which can take a toll on their ability to enjoy their overall hotel stay and trip itself.

According to a new study published online in Tourism and Hospitality Research on September 30th guest sleep satisfaction during their is a strong predictor of guest satisfaction and may therefore be an opportunity for hotels to attract and retain loyal customers.

Researchers from Harvard Medical School, Brigham & Women’s Hospital, University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of Arizona reviewed data from 600 travelers who reported regularly staying in hotels for either work or leisure. Researchers examined traveler ratings of various sleep-related hotel attributes, such as the quality of the mattress and pillows or the shades in the guestrooms. According to their data, the researchers ranked the hotel attributes that most closely aligned with sleep to determine which characteristics of the hotel matter most for the guest sleep experience.

“Sufficient, restorative sleep powers our waking days, and is particularly important for a successful trip – either for our ability to enjoy a vacation or succeed in business meetings while travelling” says study lead investigator, Rebecca Robbins, PhD, a research fellow in the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School. “Without sufficient sleep we lack energy stores, we are more irritable, we are more prone to forgetfulness, and we are less creative and adept at problem solving. As so often is the case, our trips are often short in duration, so suffering from even one poor night of sleep has the potential to cloud a hotel stay and overall trip.”

The researchers examined a list of 26 sleep-related hotel attributes and the relationships between these characteristics and guest sleep satisfaction. According to their analysis, a noisy air conditioner, uncomfortable bed linens and pillows, and noise from outside the hotel room were the strongest predictors of poor guest sleep satisfaction. Fortunately for hotels, these characteristics are largely modifiable, and may reap benefits in terms of guest satisfaction – a desirable goal for satisfied and loyal customers. Robbins and her colleagues encourage hoteliers interested in improving the guest sleep experience to ensure these sleep damaging attributes are addressed and modified at their property.

Furthermore, Robbins and her colleagues articulate an opportunity for hoteliers interested in differentiating themselves in the increasingly competitive landscape as a property that provides superior slumber for their guests. These findings suggest that quality bed linens and pillows and reducing noise in the guestroom environment are opportunities for strengthening the sleep experience and increasing the likelihood of overall guest satisfaction. Positioning on guest sleep may be particularly important for hotels with a large proportion of international guests who are likely to experience sleep difficulties and jet lag.

In addition to Robbins, other study authors include Michael Grandner, University of Arizona College of Medicine; Adam Knowleden and Kimberly Severt, the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

About Harvard Medical School

At Harvard Medical School, our mission is to create and nurture a diverse community of the best people committed to leadership in alleviating human suffering caused by disease. With our vast reservoir of talent, extensive network of affiliates and commitment to problem solving, Harvard Medical School is uniquely positioned to steer education and research in directions that will benefit local, national, and global communities. For further information visit hms.harvard.edu.

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