Editor’s Note: Recently we launched a new weekly survey series Skift Asks to test assumptions that travel industry insiders have about consumer travel issues, trying to bridge the disconnect between the industry and consumers. See previous Skift Asks here.
Important: The survey is not done on Skift readers but the general U.S. internet adult population through Google Consumer Surveys.
This week, we decided to ask general American consumers about trust in travel. And we’re defining trust as this: When something goes wrong in your travel experience — delays, changes, natural disasters — what type of company would you trust most to stand by you and make things right? Which sectors of travel are the most trustworthy?
The top result should make the hotel industry very happy. Overwhelmingly the sector has a good reputation, driven as it is still largely by humans, not just optimizing for lowest cost as airlines and the largest cruise lines have done.
Cruises, on the other hand, suffer from a big PR problem, and the recent spate of public screwups led by Carnival don’t help. Very few Americans trust the industry and its brands to stand by them if things go wrong. And can you blame them? The “things-go-wrong” incidents have been so public, so high profile, and of course live broadcast by TV networks, that it will take a lot more than CLIA “Bill of Rights” PR whitewash to make that better.
This single-question survey was administered to the U.S. internet population from Sep 14-Sep 19, 2013, through Google Consumer Surveys, with 1,506 responses, weighted down to 1,101. The methodology is explained here.
The headline takeaway: Hotels dominate on trust, and airlines are second by a large margin. Online booking sites need to think about customer service here, as they do a poor job bridging the digital distance.
The takeaway: All things are relatively equal but one: Women trust the cruise industry a bit more than men.
The takeaway: Airlines aren’t doing so bad in the 35-44 set, mostly because a lot of them are likely business travelers and have perks.
The takeaway: People in the northeast don’t trust the airlines, and with major choke-point airports in the region (hello, Newark, LaGuardia, and JFK), the number of screwups are likely disproportionately higher in the region.
The takeaway: No major discernible trends by urban/rural/suburban divide.
The takeaway: The higher you are on income scale, the more you trust some of the travel sectors with bad reputation, most likely because the consumers have perks and personal attention tied to higher spends with these brands; Seabourn delivers in a way that Carnival doesn’t.