Recession hits hotel satisfaction, but airlines improve
Customer satisfaction edged lower for hotels (-.2 to 82.9) and rental cars (-0.1 to 79.6), but improved among airlines (+0.2 to 75.7) in the second quarter of 2009.
Those are among the findings in the latest survey for the Market Metrix Hospitality Index (MMHI) which used interviews with 35,000 US customers to measure hospitality company performance.
Pan Pacific Hotels & Resorts, Midwest 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 hotel industry has, up to this point, been surprisingly resilient in its ability to protect the guest experience. As with most service industries, customer service tends to get better when there are fewer customers to serve. However, in the second quarter of this year, the impact of the recession finally took its toll. With severe budget pressures and cuts in staff and services, 154 of the 274 hotel companies measured in the MMHI received lower satisfaction scores compared to the first quarter of 2009.
In addition to lower satisfaction scores, measures of loyalty declined for most hotel brands, with guests less likely to recommend or return to their last hotel. Critical to customer loyalty, value scores, also declined with guests feeling they received less for their money compared to last quarter. Loyalty programs played less of a role in hotel selection and customers were less concerned about green programs when booking a hotel. Guests did not feel as welcome and staff friendliness scores were down. Guests also felt less pampered and less entertained during their stay. Other declines were product related (Comfortable bed & furniture, Proper functioning lights etc.), showing further evidence that budget cuts have made an impact on the guest experience.
Passenger satisfaction with airlines improved (+0.2 to 75.7) despite the sour economy. With fewer people flying, there have been shorter lines, increased on-time arrivals, less lost luggage, more space availability, and higher steward-per-passenger ratios. Midwest Airlines (85.3) was the top scoring airline. US Airways (+0.7 to 70.4) benefited from its more generous frequent flyer miles and discounts on select flights as well as from a better on-time arrival record.
The car rental industry (-0.1 to 79.6) continues to face a difficult operating environment with fewer people renting cars and rising costs. Reductions in staff and operational cutbacks continue to hamper service and impact customer satisfaction. Dollar (+1.6 78.4) showed the biggest improvement in customer satisfaction while Thrifty (-2.7 to 77.2) showed the biggest decline. Enterprise continues their industry dominance with overall satisfaction and loyalty scores well above competitors.
Pan Pacific Hotels & Resorts was the top scoring hotel (-0.5 to 95.0), outscoring second place Mandarin Oriental (-1.9 to 94.3). As a group, midscale hotels without food and beverage showed the biggest jump in satisfaction (+0.3 to 83.2) with the perennial winner, Drury Inns moving down slightly (-0.9 to 91.0). AmeriHost Inns & Suites showed the biggest gain in overall satisfaction (+1.3 to 82.0). Casino hotels declined as a group (-0.5 to 82.6) with South Point Hotel Casino Spa posting the biggest decline (-3.2 to 87.9) but still managing to edge out Borgata (+0.3 to 87.0) for the top spot. Upscale Casinos were up slightly (0.1 to 83.9) with Hilton Las Vegas improving (+4.5 to 84.9) and the winner, Wynn Las Vegas, posting a decline (-1.4 to 91.9).