Hotel Ratings During a Pandemic – Which U.S. Cities Are Leading the Race?

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a giant wave of changes in the hospitality industry, both in regards to hotel operations and the guest’s behavior and expectations. At TrustYou, we made sure to keep a close eye on the industry’s recovery on a global and regional level, through our unique KPI, the Travel Health Index

While we saw periods of steady progress in terms of guest review in regions like Asia and Europe, the U.S. remains highly impacted by the current crisis and its path to recovery is still relatively unsteady. 

However, some U.S. cities are doing quite well in terms of hotel ratings; and while many aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic are uncontrollable, it does seem to indicate that even in the midst of crisis and uncertainty, there are some internal strategies that can benefit a hotel business.  

We wanted to take a closer look at the U.S. cities with the highest hotel ratings during the pandemic period, so we leveraged our database to pinpoint the top 10 best performing cities from the last 7 months. Additionally, we explored the top 10 cities with the smallest change in terms of hotel rating during the last 7 months, as compared to the previous 7, in order to see if any cities navigated the crisis with just minor changes in performance. 

Before we unveil the top U.S. cities, here’s a short summary of what you need to know about the TrustYou performance score:

– The Performance tile shows the score of a hotel over time, as seen through guest reviews. This is an average of a hotel’s ratings over the time period selected, e.g. last 30 days. 

– Unlike the Overall Score, newer reviews aren’t given any more weight in this calculation – it’s a simple average.

First, we looked into the cities where the hotels had the highest scores in the pandemic months and analyzed their score change in the last 7 months, compared to the previous 7. Here’s what we found:

Top Cities Without Change Color Is Score
Average score during the last 7 months
Top Cities With Change Color Is Score
Score change in the last 7 months

In the first columns, you can see the average score of each of the top-performing cities in the last 7 months. We made sure to only track cities with over 100 hotels, in order to give all of them a fair chance when calculating the average score. The surprise comes from the first two cities, Key West and Asheville, both being relatively smaller than some others on the list. However, the top has its fair share of large cities, like Boston, Las Vegas, Chicago, or Seattle – all of them managing to keep a positive and encouraging average performance score. 

In order to properly assess the impact of the crisis months on hotel performance, we also compared the scores from the 7 last months to the previous 7 months and looked at the top 10 cities where hotels register the slightest change. This goes to show that hotels in some U.S. cities have not been highly impacted by the crisis in terms of their hotel ratings. 

Lowest Decline Cities Color Is Score
Cities with the lowest change in the performance score in the last 7 months, as compared to the previous 7 ones

The winner in this race is undoubtedly New York City, with no change in the performance score. New York City registered an average score of 80.3% in the last 7 months, as well as in the preceding 7. As seen in the graphic above, the rest of the cities have suffered a very slight performance score decrease, ranging from -0.3% to -1.8% during the pandemic months. 

However, in order to get a full grasp of the current ratings, it’s important to analyze the context around it. The hotel ratings are influenced by the occupancy rate, which is something that we can observe through the Travel Health Index. The increases or decreases in the number of guest reviews are directly linked to the occupancy rates registered in a particular region or city and in New York City’s case, the THI score during the month of September was 7, an extremely low Index score which indicates very little occupancy. Therefore, it is not surprising that their hotel ratings have remained flat. 

On the other hand, cities like Asheville or Madison registered slight negative changes in the performance ratings, however, their occupancy rates, as signaled by the THI, have been relatively steady during the crisis months (100 for Asheville and 81 or Madison). When drawing the line, this particular case might hold more relevance than New York City’s, since a higher number of guests rated the performance of hotels in a slightly less positive manner than before the crisis, while in New York City fewer guests signaled a steady performance. 

Now more than ever, it’s crucial for hoteliers to analyze their performance, scores, progress, and recovery. Make sure to keep an eye out on our Travel Health Index to follow the global and regional hotel recovery and join the TrustYou Recovery Race, for more insights, content, and expert advice on how to successfully navigate the COVID-19 crisis!