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Traditional airline and hotel brands haven’t made an adequate transition to the mobile era — or at least that’s a takeaway from an analysis of user reviews on the App Store and Google Play.

ARC from Applause Analytics (not to be confused with ARC, the Airline Reporting Corp.) analyzed user reviews of apps from the 40 most-popular travel brands and found that the lowest rated were United, Delta, Hilton, American Airlines, Marriott, Southwest, Hertz and US Airways, all scoring less than 40 on a scale of 100.

“Travel booking apps have mastered their mobile moments,” states the ARC 360 report. “Sharing-economy travel brands are winning with mobile-first experiences. Traditional travel brands are underserving their mobile-savvy customers.”

Big-name travel companies that haven’t sufficiently transitioned into the mobile era — as evidence by Applause Analytics culling of 30 million app reviews globally — risk damaging their brands, the report states.

ARC stated that the 40 most-reviewed travel apps fell at least 20 points lower than its average app quality score of 67.

Seven of the eight best-rated apps, all attracting scores of greater than the 67 average, were booking apps, including, Alaska Airlines, Kayak, TripAdvisor,, Zipcar and Orbitz. The only non-booking app to make it into the elite eight was TripIt, an itinerary-managed app.

Booking apps in general were the highest rated, with an average score of 65, while car rental apps scored the lowest with a 27 average.

Alaska Airlines led the field among airline apps, notching an 81 quality rating, while Frontier scraped the bottom with a score of 7.

How reliable are these ratings, though? Can brands game the system?

“This is part of the reason Applause launched its Analytics tool, to pull actionable insight out of the noise of app store reviews,” says Ben Gray, who authored the report. “Applause Analytics won’t provide a score unless an app has garnered enough reviews to determine its strengths and weaknesses across the app’s satisfaction, stability, performance, elegance and more.”

“I’d say the effect of any behind-the-scenes efforts (e.g., favorable reviews from family and friends) is negligible at best against the crushing weight of reviews from actual customers as measured through the comprehensive analytics,” Gray says.

The following are the winners and losers among travel apps as rated by users.

Highest- and Lowest-Rated Travel Apps

Highest RatedPlatformLowest RatesPlatform
AirlinesAlaska AirlinesAndroidUS AirwaysIOS
Car loanerRelayRidesIOSDriveNowAndroid
Car rentalsNationalIOSHertzAndroid
Car sharingZipcarIOSUberAndroid
CruiseNorwegianAndroidRoyal CaribbeanAndroid
Travel bookingBooking.comIOSTravelocityAndroid
Vacation rentalAirbnbIOSCouchsurfingAndroid

Source: Applause Analytics, July 10, 2015

Photo Credit: Zipcar's iOS app (shown above) was the highest-rated car-sharing app while Uber's Android app was the lowest, according to an analysis of user reviews by Applause Analytics. Zipcar