J.D. Power and Associates Reports:
Although Technology May Help Improve the Airport Experience, the Basics Have the Greatest Impact on Passenger Satisfaction
Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County, Indianapolis International and Kansas City International Airports Each Rank Highest in Overall Passenger Satisfaction in their Respective Segments
WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.: 18 February 2010 - Although technology has revolutionized air travel during the past decade, passenger satisfaction with airports continues to lag behind that of other aspects of the travel industry, largely because passenger expectations of basic needs-such as prompt baggage delivery, airport comfort and ease of navigating the airport-are not being met consistently, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2010 North America Airport Satisfaction StudySM released today.
It's no secret that, for many travelers, the most dreaded part of any trip involves the airport. Typically, these sprawling facilities are spread across large areas, enabling them to handle modern commercial aircraft operations. Each year, tens of millions of passengers travel through these busy hubs, forced into long lines for tickets, baggage services and security checks-only to wait several hours for a flight.
Some airports have seized the opportunity of a captive audience. In many locations, renovated terminal interiors more closely resemble shopping malls, with restaurants, shopping and entertainment. In spite of these conveniences, however, travelers still yearn for basic travel needs: short wait times, ease of airport navigation and prompt baggage delivery. Delivering on these elemental requirements not only makes consumers happier, but it opens their wallets.
As the summer travel season gets into full swing and the economy gradually recovers, leisure air travel is once again becoming an option for many consumers. But just as travelers are returning to the skies, additional fees for checked bags, increased prices for in-flight beverages and meals, and the likelihood of increased passenger traffic later this summer threaten to negate recent gains the airlines have made in customer satisfaction.
In spite of these concerns, a recent study conducted by J.D. Power and Associates shows that overall customer satisfaction with airlines in North America has increased notably, with 10 of 12 airlines improving from 2009. According to the J.D. Power and Associates 2010 North America Airline Satisfaction Study,SM which surveyed more than 12,300 passengers who flew on a major North American airline between April 2009 and April 2010, overall customer satisfaction with airlines in 2010 has improved to a three-year high of 673 on a 1,000-point scale, improving by 15 points from 2009.
Let's face it, traveling to and within Europe isn't cheap. If you're traveling from the U.S., for example, airfare alone can set you back thousands of dollars. Factor in potentially unfavorable currency exchange rates, ground transportation, lodging, food, souvenirs, street vendors, sightseeing tour admission, and any other unexpected expenses you may incur, and things can quickly add up. Fortunately for consumers, European hoteliers recognize this and are keeping their costs and fees in line with the realities of the current economy, contributing to a recent surge in hotel guest satisfaction. In fact, according to a recent J.D. Power and Associates study, overall hotel guest satisfaction in Europe has increased notably from 2008 to achieve a five-year high in 2009, with improvements occurring in all ranked brands and across all segments.
As America's roads become more congested and daily commute times grow longer by the day, consumers are increasingly looking to technology for some relief. More and more, drivers are looking to their vehicle's navigation system to help identify-and avoid-trouble spots along the way.
In fact, a recent J.D. Power and Associates survey of nearly 17,000 customers who purchased or leased new 2009 model-year vehicles with factory-installed navigation systems reveals that real-time traffic information, as well as voice recognition, is becoming an increasingly popular feature. The 2009 Navigation Usage and Satisfaction Study finds that 26 percent of owners report having a factory-installed navigation system equipped with real-time traffic capabilities-twice the proportion of owners in 2008 who said the same. Among owners whose systems do not currently have the real-time traffic feature, nearly 80 percent report interest in having the option in the future. Real-time traffic capability has a considerable impact on overall navigation system satisfaction, as satisfaction averages 8.1 (on a 10-point scale) among owners with the feature, compared with 7.3 among those without.
Facing similar challenges to that of the domestic airline and auto industries-namely, rising costs and a lack of customers-the hotel industry has also been forced to slash operating costs and reduce staff in hopes of remaining competitive. But even though reduced demand has forced hotel properties to make sweeping changes, hotel guest satisfaction actually improved in 2009, according to a recent J.D. Power and Associates study. How have hoteliers accomplished this feat? By focusing on their customers.
Following two consecutive years of considerable declines in customer satisfaction, the domestic rental car industry appears to be making a comeback, at least in the court of public opinion, if not on the companies' balance sheets. According to a recent J.D. Power and Associates survey of nearly 13,000 customers who rented a car at a domestic airport, renters are seeing reduced fees compared to recent years, contributing significantly to the increase in overall satisfaction.
The 2009 U.S. Rental Car Satisfaction Study reveals that the industry's recent focus on containing operating costs by "right-sizing" fleets to meet changing consumer demand and extending the service life of their vehicles is allowing rental car companies to delay orders for replacements, thus enabling many companies to decrease their rental fees. However, in a number of locations, reductions in rental fees have been offset by increased excise taxes imposed by local and state governments.
It has been said that, when traveling, getting there is half the fun. Not so for domestic airline passengers, according to a recent study by J.D. Power and Associates. The 2009 North America Airline Satisfaction Study, which measures customer satisfaction of both business and leisure travelers with major North American carriers, finds that overall customer satisfaction with airlines has declined for a third consecutive year to a four-year low in 2009, even though on-time arrival rates have improved from 2008. The decline is driven by decreased passenger satisfaction with in-flight services, the flight crew and costs and fees, compared with 2008.
Consumers are more price conscious than ever before, so the dearth of great travel deals, as well as a difficulty in finding them on independent online travel Web sites, has led to lower satisfaction with these sites, according to a recent study by J.D. Power and Associates.
Although more travelers are making online airline, rental car and hotel reservations this year, the percentage of bookings on independent discount travel Web sites has increased only slightly since 2007, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2008 Independent Travel Web Site Satisfaction Study.SM And although 64 percent of consumers surveyed said they are "pleased" or "delighted" with their search experiences on these discount travel Web sites, the overall satisfaction levels declined this year from 2007.