Tourism Industry News
Economic woes flatten guest satisfaction
Despite the budget cutbacks, in 2008 Customer Satisfaction was up for hotels (+0.9) and airlines (+1.5) but down for car rental companies (-0.9) compared to 2007, according to the Market Metrix Hospitality Index.
Among hotels, the luxury segment showed the biggest improvement (+1.4), with Le Meridian, Loews and The Ritz-Carlton posting the biggest year over year gains. Casinos (-0.7) and Timeshares (-0.2) were the only segments showing a decline in satisfaction compared to 2007. The Sahara Hotel and Casino (-6.3), Binion's Horseshoe (-6.1) and Trendwest Resorts (-4.2) posted the biggest annual declines within these segments.
Comparing performance across the hospitality industry
Although the hotel industry reached near-record highs in guest satisfaction in 2008, scores were flat in Q4 as the severity of the economic downturn forced significant reductions in staff and services. In the grueling fourth quarter hotel guests reported lower product scores but gave higher marks for “Pampered”, “Entertained” and “Welcome” indicating that while hotels are cutting back, they are also working hard to please guests. And with lower rates taking on greater urgency for most guests, loyalty programs and green initiatives played less of a role in hotel selection compared to the previous quarter.
Car Rental satisfaction scores were down for the year. This industry continues to face a difficult operating environment with fewer people renting cars and rising costs (e.g. higher vehicle maintenance and repair costs). Alamo (+2.5) and Thrifty (+1.8) showed the biggest annual improvements in customer satisfaction scores despite the industry’s downward slide. Enterprise continues their industry dominance with overall satisfaction and loyalty scores well above competitors, although their winning margin was smaller this year with Alamo making a big jump to finish in second place for 2008.
Although airlines continue to frustrate customers, their scores did improve slightly over last year. And there is a new winner - Virgin Atlantic. For the first time this airline scored highest among 23 airlines in 2008. Passengers love the airline’s “mood lighting”, “plugging in laptops at your seat” and “the movies… they’ve got an awesome in-flight entertainment system!” The most improved airline was Lufthansa (+5.7) boosting its ranking from 7th place in 2007 to second place in 2008.
Top Scoring Hotel Brands
The top hotel score among all segments for 2008 went to Pan Pacific Hotels & Resorts - a portfolio of hotels, resorts and serviced suites throughout Asia and North America. Guests rave about the staff’s “Asian hospitality”, “incredible response time” and “sumptuous amenities” in the guestrooms. Riu Hotels won the Upper upscale category, Sandals was the highest scoring upscale hotel and South Point Hotel, a new Mediterranean themed Las Vegas property, led the casino segment in customer satisfaction for 2008. Kimpton and Hotwire delivered the best online reservation experiences to their customers.
Based on 35,000 customer interviews conducted each quarter, the Market Metrix Hospitality Index™ (MMHI) is the largest and most in-depth measure of hospitality company performance available today. These benchmarks, delivered through our flagship product Customer Metrix™, enable Market Metrix clients to compare their results to competitors by STAR segment, AAA classification, Brand, SMSA, industry averages, performers in the top 10% and other classifications. The MMHI is also available by subscription.
About Market Metrix
Market Metrix is helping hospitality companies around the world succeed in the tough economy. With guest feedback collected 24/7/365, and built-in service recovery and investment decision support tools, we help clients save money and reduce risk of client defections. Based on award-winning research and breakthrough concepts, our SaaS-based products deliver instant survey results, analysis and management tools for increasing revenue and reducing staff turnover. Our benchmarking database, MMHI, is the most comprehensive, independent comparison of consumer brand satisfaction in the industry. Our annual MMHI Awards are coveted by lodging and travel enterprises around the world. With clients that include more than 120 brands across 70 countries, Market Metrix has been helping leading hospitality companies turn feedback into performance since 1996. For more information, visit www.marketmetrix.com.