Hotel Online  Special Report



Online Customer Respect Survey Studies How Hotel
Companies Treat Their Customers Online
Marriott Scored Highest While Trump Hotels &
Casino Resorts Scored Lowest

BELLEVUE, Wash - April 26, 2004-- The Customer Respect Group, an international research and consulting firm that focuses on how corporations treat their customers online, today released the results of its Spring 2004 Online Customer Respect Study of 36 airline, travel and leisure firms that rank among the countries largest 1000 companies.

Overall, Orbitz and Hotwire scored highest among travel firms, while WorldTravel BTI scored lowest. Northwest Airlines ranked first among airlines, while Southwest Airlines ranked last. Marriott International scored highest among hotels/resorts, while Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts scored lowest. And GetThere bested Sabre Airline Solutions in the travel solutions category.

The study is the only one to bring objective measure to the analysis of corporate performance from an online customer's perspective. It assigns a Customer Respect Index (CRI(TM)) rating to each company on a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 being the highest achievable score. The Customer Respect Index is a qualitative and quantitative in-depth analysis and independent measure of a customer's online experience when interacting with companies via the Internet.

By interviewing a representative sample of the adult Internet population, and by analyzing more than 1000 Web sites across a spectrum of industries in detail, The Customer Respect Group has determined the attributes that combine to create the entire online customer experience. These attributes have been grouped together and measured as indicators of Simplicity (ease of navigation), Responsiveness (quick and thorough responses to inquiries), Privacy (respects customer privacy), Attitude (customer-focus of site), Transparency (open and honest policies) and Principles (values and respects customer data). Combined they measure a company's overall Customer Respect.

The Customer Respect Group continually enhances its methodology by expanding the list of attributes researched and reported on. Recently, the firm expanded that list to include respect for individuals with disabilities.

Select Sector Comparisons

In related research -- the Customer Respect Net Impact Study 2004 -- 54 percent of users who had abandoned Web sites in the previous three months cited a lack of simplicity as the main reason why they did so, with 70 percent admitting that they would go to a competitor if a Web site was difficult to use. In this survey, companies achieved a high score for Simplicity. However, almost all of the companies have very heavy Web pages that make it difficult for individuals with slow connections to navigate. In the area of Transparency, scores for the sector were excellent. This shows that airline, travel and leisure firms endeavor to explain their policies fully and clearly. On the other hand, Responsiveness was frequently poor. Of the companies surveyed, nine percent did not reply to any of the inquiries submitted. Of the inquiries sent, the responses to 29 percent took more than two days to arrive. In the Customer Respect Net Impact Study 2004, 72 percent of those surveyed said that they would wait between one hour and one day for a response. In the area of Principles, a shocking 25 percent of the airline, travel and leisure firms share customers' data with business partners without seeking permission and 13 percent share data with affiliates. In that same area, researchers found that 77 percent of online forms were not easy to use by those with disabilities. Research indicates that firms that don't consider those with disabilities could be preventing up to 20 percent of the population from doing business with them.

"The net of this survey is that while airline, travel and leisure firms are doing well in several areas, they still have room for improvement in many others, particularly in Responsiveness and Principles," said Roger Fairchild, president of The Customer Respect Group. "The bottom line is that more than 10 percent of all financial transactions in the U.S. are initiated on the Web and for many of these sector firms it's significantly higher - up to 100 percent. There's no doubt that making positive changes to their sites can have an enormous financial impact for them by improving sales and customer retention."

The overall average for all airline, travel and leisure companies was 6.2. Beyond these scores, the report conveys, in great detail, improvement opportunities for each company. The sector's Spring 2004 ranking is as follows:

 Hotel/Resort Name                     Overall
 Marriott International, Inc.                7.8
 Hyatt Hotels & Resorts                    6.9
 Starwood Hotels & Resorts               6.4
 Radisson Hotels & Resorts                 6.1
 Caesars Entertainment, Inc.               6.0
 Harrah's Entertainment, Inc.              5.6
 Hilton Hotels 5.0
 Wyndham Hotels & Resorts            4.9
 MGM Mirage                                4.2
 Mandalay Resort Group                   4.1
 Boyd Gaming Corporation                 3.9
 Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts, Inc.     2.9
 Hotel/Resort Average                      5.3

Airline Name                          Overall
 Northwest Airlines Corporation    7.8
 Spirit Airlines                           7.5
 Alaska Air Group, Inc.                    7.4
 ATA Airlines, Inc                         7.3
 American Airlines                         7.0
 Delta Air Lines, Inc.                     7.0
 JetBlue Airways                           7.0
 US Airways Group, Inc.                    7.0
 Continental Airlines, Inc.                6.8
 UAL Corporation                           6.3
 America West Holdings Corp.         6.2
 Southwest Airlines                        5.2
 Airline Average                           6.9

Travel Firm Name                      Overall
 Orbitz                                    8.3
 Hotwire                                   8.3
 Expedia                                   8.2
 Priceline                                 8.1
 Travelocity                               7.3                    7.0
 Carlson Wagonlit                   6.4                                5.2
 WorldTravel BTI                           2.8
 Travel Firm Average                       6.8

Travel Solution Firm                  Overall
 GetThere                                  5.1
 Sabre Airline Solutions               5.0
 Travel Solution Average               5.1

Other findings for firms in the overall Airline, Travel and Leisure firm sector include the following:

  • Surveyed firms receive the best overall rating (CRI: 7.5) for Transparency and the worst (CRI: 4.5) for Responsiveness.
  • Some nine percent of firms did not respond to any online inquiries.
  • 83 percent responded to all inquiries. Of these, 54 percent responded within 24 hours, 17 percent responded within 48 hours and 29 percent responded after two days.
  • Eight percent of firms responded to half of the inquiries received. Of these, 67 percent responded within 24 hours and 33 percent responded within 48 hours.
  • Some 44 percent of all sector firms use Autoresponder technology, in which emails are automatically sent to users to confirm the receipt of their inquiry and let them know when they should expect a response. Of these, all followed up with a full response although 62 percent of those that cited a timeframe for responding took longer than promised.
  • Some 86 percent of companies provide email forms for online inquiries, six percent provide email addresses and 8 percent provide no online contact methods.
  • 91 percent of sector firms have privacy policies on their sites explaining how customers' personal data is being used. Of those that do, six percent need to be more explicit about how they use personal data, 56 percent do not collect data or use collected data only for internal purposes, 13 percent share data with affiliates or subsidiaries and 25 percent share data without permission from users.
  • Some 91 percent use cookie technology. Of these, 28 percent provide a full explanation about what advantage they provide the user and what data they hold, while 16 percent provide a full explanation on how to disable them.
  • 77 percent of companies provide forms that can't be easily used by those with disabilities.

The Customer Respect Group is an international research and consulting firm that uses its Customer Respect Index (CRI(TM)) methodology to help companies improve how they treat their customers online. It provides leadership in the objective and scientific measurement of a customer's online experience. Many of the largest U.S. companies have already adopted the CRI methodology to improve online customer satisfaction and loyalty. The Customer Respect Group is headquartered in Bellevue, WA. For additional information, visit

The Customer Respect Group
Also See: HSMAI Survey of 7,000 Members Reveals the 'Top 10 Issues of Concern' Facing Sales and Marketing Executives / February 2004
Walt Disney World Resorts Ranks Number One in Hotel Customer Satisfaction; Market Metrix Fourth Quarter 2003 Hospitality Index Results / February 2004

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