Brands work tirelessly to gain consumers’ loyalty. So which ones leave their guests the most satisfied?
The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) Travel Report for 2018-2019 was released last week, which reveals the airlines and hotels that rank the highest among travelers.
Overall, airlines had an average score of 74 (on a scale of 0 to 100), up 1.4% from last year. Alaska Airlines took the top spot with a score of 80. The report noted that the airline’s merger with Virgin America has paid off, as passengers benefit from an expanded network and lower fares.
Southwest fell a percentage point, coming in second at 79 and tying with JetBlue. Southwest topped the list last year. “Recent deadly crashes of the Boeing 737 MAX (for Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air) have left Southwest particularly vulnerable to safety concerns,” the ACSI reported said. “It has more Boeing 737 MAX models than any other airline.”
Delta moved up one point for a score of 75, while American Airlines scored a 73, and United came in at 70.
According to the survey, passengers are particularly pleased with the airlines’ mobile apps and check-in process, which both earned a score of 82. The boarding experience netted a 79 and cabin cleanliness scored a 78. Seat comfort, however, earned a low score of 69.
"Airlines sat at a near-record low of 62 just a dozen years ago," David VanAmburg, managing director at the ACSI, said in a statement. "Now, they’re among some of the most improved industries over that time."
For hotels, the industry saw a 1.3% drop to an overall ASCI score of 75. The report cited the rise of online hospitality brokers, like Airbnb, so that “travelers have more choices than ever before, and traditional hotels are showing signs of strain.”
Hilton and Marriott fared better, tying for a top score of 80, the report said, thanks to strong loyalty programs. However, Hilton and Marriott dipped 2% and 1% respectively.
Hyatt remained unchanged at 79, followed by InterContinental, which improved 1% to 78. Best Western was steady at 77.
Among hotel brands, Marriott took two of the top spots with its luxury resort offering JW Marriott (84) and its upper midscale Fairfield Inn & Suites (83). Hilton’s upper upscale Embassy Suites shares second place at 83, followed by upscale Hilton Garden Inn at 82. Marriott Hotels rounded out the top five.
The American Customer Satisfaction Index, a national economic indicator, interviewed nearly 13,000 customers for the study. The index measures and analyzes the customer satisfaction levels of more than 400 companies.