Survey: JW Marriott, TripAdvisor Satisfy Travelers Most

ANN ARBOR, MI—Following a down year, customer satisfaction with travel websites rebound while hotels take a dip, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) Travel Report 2018-2019.

Hilton and Marriott are home to top brands

Guest satisfaction with hotels dropped 1.3% to an ACSI score of 75. Thanks to a rise in online brokers like Airbnb, travelers have more choices and traditional hotels are struggling to keep up.

“This is a transforming industry,” said David VanAmburg, managing director at the ACSI. “If corporate hotels aren’t able to step up, they’re going to continue to slide.”

Hilton leads with an ACSI score of 80 despite falling 2% to a first-place tie with Marriott (down 1%). The two hoteliers still offer more upscale and luxury properties, better guest service, and higher-quality amenities than other hotel brands, according to the survey.

Luxury hotel JW Marriott takes the top spot among brands with an ACSI score of 84. Hilton’s Embassy Suites and Marriott’s Fairfield Inn & Suites tie at 83, followed by Hilton Garden Inn with a score of 82. Marriott Hotels, InterContinental’s Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts, Courtyard by Marriott, and Best Western Premier all score 81.

The brands with the lowest marks are all economy hotels:

  • Days Inn (Wyndham) at 68
  • Econo Lodge (Choice) at 67
  • Super 8 (Wyndham) at 65
  • Motel 6 (G6 Hospitality) at 63

Hotels have deteriorated in almost every aspect according to guests. It’s still easy to make a reservation and check in (each at 84), yet both scores are down from the previous year. Staff is less courteous and helpful (82), room quality worsens (81), and call center satisfaction, which experiences the biggest drop, plummets 6% to 78—the same mark as quality of in-room amenities, a new ACSI benchmark.

Resolving complaints is increasingly important. Social media allows guests to relay glitches to the hotel and to the online community, so hotels need to adapt accordingly.

TripAdvisor debuts as trusted adviser among travel websites

As customer satisfaction with travel websites for booking flights, hotels, and car rentals increases, a new company makes a splashing debut: TripAdvisor.

TripAdvisor leads with an ACSI score of 82 thanks to its reputation as a trusted source of user-generated reviews, according to the survey. Expedia’s Orbitz comes in second place at 81, unchanged from last year.

Travelocity (owned by Expedia) takes the biggest hit in the category, plunging 4% to 77. Priceline finishes at the bottom following a 3% skid to 76.

Customers continue to find it easy to make bookings and payments (84) on travel websites. Ease of navigation and site performance are up as well (both 82).

In the end, only loyalty programs (74) and user-generated reviews (75) see a decline for the category.

The ACSI Travel Report 2018-2019 is based on interviews with 12,873 customers, chosen at random and contacted via email between April 5, 2018 and March 27, 2019.