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NEW STUDY DETERMINES BEST HOTEL CHAINS IN THE U.S.; EXPERIENCED TRAVEL AGENTS RATE 40 HOTEL COMPANIES

 NEW STUDY DETERMINES BEST HOTEL CHAINS IN THE U.S.;
 EXPERIENCED TRAVEL AGENTS RATE 40 HOTEL COMPANIES
 LOS ANGELES, May 27 /PRNewswire/ -- With the heavy leisure travel season fast approaching, vacationers must decide not only where to go, but also where to stay. A study just released by Plog Research Inc., a Southern California marketing research firm, provides evidence about which hotel chains rate best for quality of service, value for the money and consistency of individual hotel properties.
 The study interviewed nearly 1,700 experienced travel agents throughout the United States. They provided detailed ratings of 40 hotel chains in the annual HOTEL-TRAK survey of Plog Research. The depth of experience of these travel agents is unmatched. Whereas, a very frequent traveler might visit 50 or fewer hotels a year, the average agent in this survey makes about 1,100 hotel bookings a year. Thus, more than 1.5 million yearly bookings are completed by these travel agents in this project. They learn about the quality of the chains in their daily transactions with hotel companies, and in comments from their clients.
 The top hotels? The most important criterion -- the willingness of a travel agent to recommend a chain to their clients -- provides winners in four segments.
 In the economy/budget priced segment, three hotels emerge as winners. In rank order, these are:
 1. Hampton Inns
 2. Quality Inns
 3. Comfort Inns
 According to Dr. Stanley C. Plog, chief executive officer of the company that bears his name, Hampton Inns "edged out its rivals by achieving high scores for the consistent quality of its hotels. And travel agents believe that it is a very professional and well-run company." Hampton Inns is a relatively new, fast-growing chain focusing on both business and leisure markets.
 In the mid-price segment, competition was even tougher. Of the 11 chains evaluated, travel agents are most willing to send their clients to:
 1. Embassy Suites;
 1. Marriott Courtyard (tie)
 3. Forte (formerly Trusthouse Forte)
 In this group, "the close battle between Embassy Suites and Marriott Courtyard focuses on the strengths of this segment ... offering good value for the money and providing consistent quality," Dr. Plog commented.
 In the most competitive grouping of all, the first class segment, five hotel chains (out of 15 evaluated) emerge as the ones travel agents are most willing to recommend:
 1. Hyatt Hotels & Resorts
 2. Disney
 3. Hyatt International
 4. Marriott
 5. Westin
 All achieved superior ratings on almost all dimensions. These include ability to satisfy both leisure and business clients, knowledgeable and helpful reservations agents, and offering hotels of consistent quality.
 Finally, in the luxury category, two hotel chains emerge in a virtual tie:
 -- Ritz-Carlton
 -- Four Seasons
 "The primary emphasis of these hotels is in providing superior overall service," according to Dr. Plog, "and particularly in demonstrating their ability to handle the special requests of their guests."
 Overall winners emerged in two categories. Of the 40 chains reviewed, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts received top honors as the hotel company travel agents are most willing to recommend. It emerged from a close second place finish last year in the survey to capture the top spot in the current study. And, in terms of value for the money, Marriott Courtyard emerges as the winner. A moderate price, combined with consistently good hotel properties, contribute to its high standing with travel agents.
 Plog Research is a Los Angeles-based market research firm serving clients in travel, automotive, telecommunications and advertising fields. Its special focus is market psychology and predicting future trends.
 -0- 5/27/92
 /CONTACT: Stanley C. Plog, Ph.D., or Peter L. Ostrowski of Plog Research, 818-345-7363/ CO: Plog Research ST: California IN: LEI SU:


KJ-EH -- LA003 -- 4101 05/27/92 09:06 EDT
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Date:May 27, 1992
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