While customer satisfaction generally held its own during 2009, satisfaction with airlines increased slightly and decreased with car rental firms - but it was hotel loyalty initiatives that stole the show, according to the Market Metrix Hospitality Index.
Overall, Oberoi Hotels and Resorts, Virgin Atlantic, and Enterprise Rent-A-Car were ranked top for hotel, airline, and rental car industry customer satisfaction respectively.
With their revenues plummeting in 2009, hotel companies around the world focused on making their loyalty programmes more attractive, and it seems to have worked. The percentage of rooms filled by loyalty programme members increased by 5% in 2009 (to 35%), which is a positive trend for hotels as these customers tend to spend more during their stay than non-members.
The increase was even higher among upscale casinos (up 9.2% to 45%) and upscale hotels (up 5.4% to 40%), with The Venetian, Novotel and SuperClubs showing the biggest gains.
Comparing performance across the hospitality industry In 2009, Oberoi Hotels and Resorts (an Indian brand associated with ultra luxury hotels) earned the highest customer satisfaction score among all hotels, at 93.7. Midscale without food and beverage (up 0.5 to 84.0) improved more than any other segment in 2009, with Drury Inns earning the top score (90.9) and Lees Inns of America showing the biggest improvement (up 4.4 to 79.6). Among all hotels, the brands showing the biggest improvement included McIntosh Inns (up 8.1 to 75.0), Red Carpet Inns (up 6.3 to 79.9) and Husa Hotels (up 5.8 to 82.3).
Passenger satisfaction with airlines improved slightly in 2009 despite the struggling economy. High volatility in fuel prices, indifferent service, labour problems, congested airports, and financial challenges have plagued the industry for a long time and airlines remained the lowest scoring industry in the index. Virgin Atlantic (86.8) was the top scoring airline for the second year in a row, while BA jumped from 7th to 2nd place with an impressive gain (up 5.5 to 86.1) and JetBlue received the highest customer loyalty score (with 83% of passengers stating that they were very likely to book another flight on the airline).
The car rental industry also faces a difficult market, with costs rising and fewer people renting cars. Increased excise taxes imposed by local and state governments, as well as fleet reductions that decrease options for the customer, have also impacted the perceived value of renting cars. Although Alamo (up 0.9 to 77.4) showed the biggest improvement in customer satisfaction, Enterprise continued its industry dominance with overall satisfaction and loyalty scores well above its competitors.