American vs. European Hotels: Differences in Guest Experience & Technology

When travelling to Europe an average American traveler will expect some cultural differences, but the differences aren’t limited to culture only. The hospitality industry across the pond can also differ significantly as well. The hospitality industry in the US is dominated by hotel chains while in Europe, although hotels from big brands are easily available, a lot of options are of smaller boutique hotels. Similarly, hotel rooms in European hotels tend to be smaller than the rooms in the US. Similarly, the hotel technology in the hotels of US can differ from the ones in Europe.

To explore this topic further we asked industry professionals and frequent travelers from both sides of the Atlantic to share their experiences and the differences they observed in the hotels on the other side:

Jeff Moore, CEO Muir Analytics

Jeff Moore is the CEO of Muir Analytics based in Virginia, US. His company tracks hotel violence in order to help hotels improve security, improve insurance, contracts, upgrade buildings and lastly, help prepare for security negligence-based lawsuits. Sharing his experiences of staying in the hotels in Spain, UK, and France, he said that many of the hotels he stayed in Europe were not big brands hotels but independent brands or boutique type hotels although some of them were big modern brands but not too many.

I would say the technology in the older boutique hotels was pretty standard. Perhaps the highest technology was key cards on occasion, but in some cases I was still using an older metal key to get into the room.

Jeff Moore

He observed that the technology in the older boutique hotels was pretty standard. Perhaps the highest technology was key cards on occasion, but in some cases, he was still using an older metal key to get into the room while in the US it’s almost all electronic key cards.

The booking system seemed all computerized in both Europe and the US and credit card payments are easily done on both sides of the Atlantic whether booking or paying on site.

But he didn’t see a whole lot of fancy technology in the rooms regarding iPads, informing of the day’s events etc. Some US hotels will send text messages regarding checkout procedures, and what not but he didn’t think that they had that in Europe.

Matteo Brusaferri, General Manager LEMI Group

Matteo Brusaferri is the General Manager of LEMI Group based in Cremona, Italy. His company manufactures Spa & wellness products. With over a decade of experience working in the industry he has traveled and experienced hospitality of both the US and Europe.

As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, the differences in perspectives also seem to fade away. Hotels are no exception to this trend, especially the large hotel groups, where you’ll find few distinctions regardless of which side of the Atlantic you choose to stay on. However, some noteworthy diversity can still be observed among independent hotels.

Matteo Brusaferri

He observed that American hotels, in particular, tend to be more spacious, with larger common areas and rooms. Traveling in the US one can discover additional amenities that are not commonly found in Europe like an iron, In-Room Entertainment, and more. When it comes to spas, American hotels often provide separate areas for men and women in the wet facilities. In contrast, European spas are co-ed, larger, and more scenic.

Despite these slight variances, he believes that the technological aspects are quite similar. While the annoying need for adapters remains, the overall systems and facilities are virtually identical.

In terms of environmental sustainability, he assumed that American hotels might be less eco-friendly. During winter, heating is often set at high levels, and the air conditioning is quite intense in the summer. Additionally, the expansive spaces they offer require a significant amount of energy for both heating and cooling purposes.

Speaking of “human technology” he found that the American staff are more welcoming and smiling than the European ones.

Lucas Topper, Marketing Specialist GoTab

Lucas Topper is a marketing specialist at GoTab, a Restaurant Commerce Platform (RCP) based in Virginia, US. Comparing both the hospitality industry he believes Europe stands out with its polished service and higher level of formalities.

Comparing the hospitality industries in Europe and the United States, Europe stands out for its higher level of formality and polished service. The emphasis on refined hospitality is evident across all levels, be it servers, managers, or captains. Europe is home to a diverse range of boutique, independent, and older establishments, which prioritize providing intimate and design-oriented experiences, appealing to travelers seeking unique offerings. While the United States also offers excellent service, the formal and polished approach is more ubiquitous in Europe.

Lucas Topper

While in terms of technology he believes that Europe has been ahead of the US in some aspects. Early adoption of mobile check-in and the rapid embrace of contactless and handheld/mobile payment methods in dining establishments have been notable achievements. However, due to the prevalence of independent and older establishments in Europe, the adoption of PMS (Property Management Systems) and mobile websites have been relatively slower.