What makes travel customers happy?

14/01/2016 By Tim Sander

Is there more to customer experience than product and people?

We provide sector benchmarked net promoter scores (NPS) to brands to give a contextual understanding of what drives their customer satisfaction and likelihood to recommend.  Having collected NPS on a number of occasions across various sectors I cannot see a pattern common to all which drives the metric’s ratings.  Sometimes it seems to be product, sometimes staff, and other times it appears to be a different factor altogether. This inconsistency provides a challenge for marketers of how to promote their brand.

Within the hotel sector NPS is strongly skewed towards the more upmarket and lifestyle brands.  In Britain Hampton by Hilton is the only budget brand that disturbs the top 15 (at 10th).  One can argue that the higher classed hotel brands offer a more appealing product and have more customer touch points where staff can impact on the guest experience.  An image mirrored in the airline industry.

Elsewhere, however, this argument does not hold. Take London City Airport.  From a product point of view it’s not particularly swanky, somewhat dated (something to be changed with a major overhaul in 2016) and, if you know where you’re going, staff contact will be fairly minimal.  But the airport consistently achieves high ratings on NPS, well in the region of leading hotel brands and airlines.  What’s the reason for that?  Is it just the simplicity of an extremely well working process that gives back the stressed business traveller something enormously valuable when speeding through security and getting off the plane?

Not dissimilarly Eurostar is a bit of an out-of-date product now as it still uses the trains from when it launched over 20 years ago (also to be changed with the recent introduction of new stock).  Yet, like London City Airport, it performs very well on NPS.  The reason here is likely to be very different.  Personally I have travelled quite regularly on Eurostar and staff contact is almost non-existent.  Yes, the product is a little old but I still get excited travelling on it because there is a certain glamour to it (almost like the Orient Express for the less wealthy).

These two examples clearly show that recommendation is not just triggered by product and people, in fact it can be something completely different and not at all tangible.  So how do you market your brand?  Our forthcoming NPS Benchmarking for the Travel Sectors to be launched next month will answer exactly that since it will provide a reason for each rating given.  Contact us for further information or to become a subscriber.

Here's a taster of the average scores for the sectors we cover in the travel industry:

NPS average score chart for Travel Sectors 2016

Our research gave the following net promoter score averages in the latter half of 2015: airlines: 21, hotels: 17, airports: 12, car rental companies: 10, and lastly train companies: 4.