Online trip advisory reviews have ushered in a harsh new business environment for hotels, motels and inns that live or die by referrals. If a guest had a lousy night’s sleep due to exterior noise from traffic, railroads or activity at the swimming pool, do not be surprised if the manager is the last to know. Viral grousing has become commonplace and its impact can be immediate and long-lasting for properties or chains that lack a nimble damage control strategy.
The absence of a posted review does not necessarily indicate satisfaction either. A guest that is unhappy with a room due to excessive exterior noise may say nothing to management, but are unlikely to return. They may also complain to friends and business associates, which can also take a bite out of revenue. Now who is having a sleepless night?
Despite harsh online rebukes, well managed hotels acknowledge that they are prisoners of a paradox: they must build near major thoroughfares, highways and rail services to be accessible and convenient; yet such locations are often the source of noise problems.
Multiple studies have revealed that 90 per cent of outside noise seeps in through windows, not walls. However, contrary to popular belief, window replacement isn’t the only solution for properties plagued by noise complaints.
The guests of Residence Inn Sandestin at Grand Boulevard in Miramar Beach, Fla. often complained about road noise; giving feedback such as “I couldn’t get a good night’s sleep,” says Tania Koehler, director of Hotel Operations for Howard Hospitality, which manages the Marriott property.
According to Koehler’s calculations, about 74 per cent of the negative comments the hotel received through online review sites — like TripAdvisor — cited “extremely high” noise levels, which prompted the company to take action.
Rather than replacing windows, the company opted to install inner soundproofing windows. In 2015, Howard Hospitality contracted Reno, Nav.-based Soundproof Windows, Inc. to install 176 special inner windows along the front of the Residence Inn Sandestin, with significant results.
“It was pretty amazing. The change was night and day,” says Koehler.
The results of this transformation were not only audible, but created measurable results in the hotel’s online reviews. In 2014, Residence Inn Sandestin at Grand Boulevard was ranked 74th among 687 Residence Inn hotels across the U.S. After upgrading its windows, the ranking jumped to 14th, and the online noise complaints all but disappeared.
What to Look For
When comparing the efficiency of window products, look for a Sound Transmission Class (STC) rating — the higher the STC number, the more noise is stopped. A typical rating for standard windows is 26 to 28. With the addition of the new soundproof windows, the Residence Inn Sandestin’s window STC rating is now 52 to 55.
Industry insiders also advise buyers to be wary. Some manufacturers provide an STC rating only for the glass they use. This can be deceptive because successful noise reduction is affected by factors such as the seals, the air gap between the windows, and the acoustic design of the window frames.
By: Douglas Glenn Clark