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The American Customer Satisfaction Index® released it’s annual travel report last week rating consumer satisfaction for Airlines, Hotels, and Internet Travel Services. The 2016 report shows that although overall satisfaction with U.S. Airlines is at an all-time high, Internet Travel Services continue to outperform both the hotel and airline industries in terms of customer satisfaction.
In the battle for the hearts of airline customers, JetBlue and Southwest Airlines tied for the top spot this year with 80 points (out of a possible 100) followed by Alaska Air on 77. American Airlines was the best-performing legacy carrier with a score of 72 with the big three of American, Delta, and United (in that order) grouped together in the middle of the results.
The bottom three held no surprises. Although Spirit jumped 15%, it still brought home the booby prize for tenth on 62 points, with Frontier and Allegiant rounding out places eight and nine with 66 and 65 points respectively.
Overall, airline satisfaction ratings climbed 3 points to 72, the highest rating since 1994, but that is still not enough to lift the industry out of the bottom 25% of industries surveyed. Helping to boost the improved rankings were significant improvements from American (9%), United (13%), Frontier (14%), and Spirit (15%).
Hilton has done enough to keep it's spot at the top of the ACSI charts again this year rising 1 point to score 81 (anything over 80% is considered Excellence by ACSI). Marriott was steady at 80 points and Hyatt dropped one point to 79 giving us a tiered top three after they all tied for first in 2015.
Starwood crept into fourth place with 78 points after a 3% jump over its 2015 score which poses an interesting question for next years ratings. Marriott's score has been steady for the last two years on 80 points but with the Marriott-Starwood merger set to close mid-2016 and Starwood having mixed results in customer satisfaction ratings, will we see Marriott knocked from the top of the charts.
Wyndham and G6 Hospitality (operator of Motel 6) claimed the bottom two hotel rankings this year is the only hotels to score 70 points or below. There were no real surprises mid-pack with Intercontinental (76%), Best Western (75%), and La Quinta (75%) all holding to within a point of each other.
Across the board, hotel satisfaction dropped by 1.3% to 74 points with the smaller hotels grouped in Other Hotels contributing the greatest drop in satisfaction falling 4%. Despite the customer experience score decreasing as a whole, customers reported improved service across almost all individual benchmarks except Call Center Satisfaction and Room Quality.
Internet Travel Services
Although hotels are picking up their game in the area of direct booking and incentives to deal directly with the front desk, online booking websites still outperform the hotels in customer satisfaction, rising 1.3% this year to sit at 79 points. Priceline was the big mover in this year's results moving up 8% to head up the list with 81 points while Expedia's consolidated brands (still operating as separate brands), Travelocity (78%), Expedia (77%), and Orbitz (77%) make up the final three places.
In part, we can thank the competition between online travel services and the hotels/airlines for improving the customer experience. There is nothing like the sweet smell of stiff competition to bring incentives and perks to the table for hotel guests.
To see the results of how individual hotel brands ranked for customer satisfaction and see the how they ranked amongst other industries, see the last two charts below.
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