Guest satisfaction among those staying at hotels is up six per cent overall since last year, part of shift in sentiment that is being reflected across the ecosystem of brands in the travel and hospitality sector, according to the latest data from the American Customer Satisfaction Index.
Based in Ann Arbor, Mich., the ASCI interviewed more than 10,000 people to produce its report, ACSI Travel Study 2022-2023. The survey not only looked at hotels and airlines but travel agencies and car rental firms.
While airline customer satisfaction (CSAT) plunged eight per cent amid cancellations and other issues during the 2022 holiday season, the ACSI found the sector still managed a one per cent bump compared with the previous year.
The increase in the car rental and travel agencies sector was similarly slight at one per cent. However the ACSI report’s authors noted car rental customers were pleased by advancements in vehicle safety, the appearance of vehicles and the availability of pickup and drop-off locations.
Among travel agencies, there were minor upticks in CSAT around the quality and reliability of their mobile app. However CSAT in other areas, such as ease of booking and payment processes, remained flat since last year’s survey was conducted.
“Not only are folks giving in to wanderlust again, but they’re enjoying all the accommodations along the way,” the ACSI said in a statement accompanying the publication of its report.
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Given they were forced to halt operations for indefinite periods during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the travel sector is no doubt ready for some good news. The real value in the ACSI research, however, comes in looking at the more granular data within each section.
Though big chains like Hyatt and Marriott enjoyed CSAT gains, for example, the ASCI survey found the small hotel segment saw the most significant bump of 11 per cent. This may speak to the opportunity boutique hotels have to compete based on the calibre of the customer experience (CX) they provide to guests before, during and after their stay.
The situation was different within the online travel agency sector, where well-known brands like Expedia are now sharing the top CSAT scores with smaller sites. It may take greater investment or innovation here to enhance digital experiences to a point where customers will choose a long-term favorite.
Of course, this is largely speculative, and the ACSI report contains no real analysis of its findings. CX leaders may be draw their own conclusion based on proprietary voice of the customer data, and use this report as a benchmark.
There are some stats that could be particularly useful in gauging the impact of CX changes, though. For instance, the ASCI report found little difference in the proportion of people who pay an airline fee for carry-on items, while there was a slight degree in the overall complaints made to car rental companies.
Shane Schick tells stories that help people innovate, and to manage the change innovation brings. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and Yahoo Canada and is the founding editor of ITBusiness.ca. Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.