Amid incidents like the recent United Airlines overbooking debacle or Delta’s spring break computer outage that may have tainted the respective airlines’ reputation and image, an American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), that was conducted between April 2016 and March 2017, indicated that passengers were satisfied (with an ACSI score of 75%) with the levels of airline service. However, United’s violent removal of a passenger was captured on social media, but is not reflected in the ACSI results as it occurred after the completion of data collection. United’s incident did cause a fall in the company’s stock price. For the time being, it is still unclear how much impact this specific incident will have on future passenger satisfaction as United already has the lowest score among the full-service, legacy airlines. Industry leaders, including; JetBlue scored 82%, Southwest 80%, and Alaska Airlines 78% were among those successful airlines, according to ACSI. Very often other carriers, including legacy airlines are falling behind in terms of customer satisfaction. Yet, the most dissatisfied passengers are those who are only opting for low-price above anything else. In this case, the ultra-low-cost operators Spirit and Frontier were among those airlines who have mostly suffered from a reduction in customer satisfaction, when compared other airlines (ACSI, 2017).
Major airlines like Delta and American are increasingly competing more aggressively on price. However, although they may offer low ticket prices; they cannot afford to deliver a low-quality service. According to ACSI, in the last three years, Spirit has consistently ranked last in terms of passenger satisfaction, although the airline did improve last year (up from 54% in 2015 to 62% in 2016). However, the airline did not build upon its gains in 2017. Spirit’s efforts to improve customer relations and punctuality did not pay off, as yet, as their passenger satisfaction currently stands is 61%.
In a similar vein, in 2016, guest satisfaction with hotels was 76%, according to ACSI, this score was 2.7% higher than the previous year. This growth was driven by gains for smaller hotels and bed and breakfasts (B&Bs). Evidently, with the rise of online hospitality brokers, like Airbnb; travellers had more choices than ever before, forcing hotel operators to compete on both price and customer service.
Hilton guests were the most satisfied (81%), and in the second place, Hyatt and Marriott scored 80%. Marriott’s Starwood brand came third (79%), closely followed by InterContinental (78%). Best Western, La Quinta and Choice that were in the range of 76% to 74%; while the combined score of all other smaller hotels and B&Bs were up by 3% to 74%. Wyndham (71%) lagged behind most of the major hoteliers, but G6 Hospitality (Motel 6) was ranked in the last place (65%). These results indicated that many prestige hotel brands, including JW Marriott were topping the charts (85%), while upscale Hilton Garden Inn and Hyatt Place have shared the next spot at 84%. Starwood’s Aloft, part of the Marriott family, scored 83%, alongside Hilton’s Embassy Suites Hotels. With 76%, Wyndham Baymont Inn & Suites was top-rated among midscale properties, whist Days Inn (67%) was the best economy brand. However, Super 8 from the Wyndham family had the lowest-ranked chain in the industry, at 63%.
The customer satisfaction levels with travel websites for booking flights, hotels and car rentals stood steady at 79%. Expedia gained 4%, as it rose to 80%. Other brands of the Expedia family, Orbitz also gained 1% to 78%. Whilst Travelocity lost 1% to 77%, which is in line with its competitor Priceline (77%), which lost 5% from the last year’s score. These ACSI (2017) reports were based on the findings from 8,660 customer surveys that were duly collected between April 18, 2016, and March 19, 2017.
(Source) ACSI (2017). ACSI: Low-Cost Carriers Lead Legacy Airlines for Passenger Satisfaction https://www.theacsi.org/news-and-resources/press-releases/press-2017/press-release-travel-2017