Hotels keep customers happy despite cuts in staff and service
Customer satisfaction with hotels remained strong (unchanged at 82.9) but airlines (-1.9 to 75.8) and rental car (-0.3 to 79.0) scores declined in the first quarter of 2009. Mandarin Oriental Hotels, JetBlue Airlines, and Enterprise Rent-a-Car ranked number one in hotel, airline, and rental car industry customer satisfaction, respectively.
Comparing performance across the hospitality industry
Hotels are facing a difficult time as consumers and businesses tighten spending on vacations and scale back on conventions and business travel. Despite the escalating recession, the industry has been able to protect the guest experience - customer satisfaction remains steady at near record level scores. However, the results for individual hotel companies are mixed. Unlike previous recessions, the luxury chains have been hit hard this time - here prices as well as quality of service have been cut. This is problematic, because the success of the luxury hotel is a function of great service and reasonably high margins. By contrast, value for money has remained strong for the budget hotels, in part because both prices and service were low to begin with.
The car rental industry continues to face a difficult operating environment with fewer people renting cars and rising costs (e.g. higher vehicle maintenance and repair costs). As a result, reductions in staff and operational cutbacks have resulted in diminishing levels of customer satisfaction. Hertz (+.8 to 80.1) and Thrifty (+.5 to 79.9) showed the biggest improvements in customer satisfaction scores while Alamo (-3.5 to 77) and Budget (-2.2 to 77.3) showed the biggest declines. Enterprise continues their industry dominance with overall satisfaction and loyalty scores well above competitors.
Passenger satisfaction with airlines declined (-1.9 to 75.8) compared to the fourth quarter of 2008. High volatility in fuel prices, indifferent service, labor problems, congested airports, and financial challenges continue to weigh heavily on the industry. Airlines remain the lowest scoring industry in this study. JetBlue retained the top spot with improved scores while AirTran posted the biggest decline (-1.1 to 76.0). Frontier Airlines continues its ascent with improved scores (+3.5 to 82) landing the brand in second place and edging closer to the top spot.