2015 Harris Poll EquiTrend®: Travel Industry Brand of the Year Awardees Stand to Win Big In the 2015 Summer Travel Season

NEW YORK – With a strong dollar expected to lure travelers abroad and gasoline prices at home still low by historic standards, this summer looks promising for the travel industry.  A recent Harris Poll of 2,215 U.S. adults (aged 18+) surveyed online from April 16-20, 2015 mirrors this enthusiasm, with nearly seven in 10 Americans (68%) planning at least one summer trip in 2015 – a figure that has risen steadily since 2012.

Against this backdrop of a nation rediscovering its appetite for travel, we highlight several brands from the 2015 Harris Poll EquiTrend® study.  The study measures the Brand Equity of more than 1,400 brands across 148 categories on three key factors of Brand Equity: Familiarity, Quality, and Consideration.  You can find the full list of top-ranked brands across all categories here.

Hotels.com Earns First Brand of the Year Nod

Online Travel Services have become an easy way for consumers to plan and shop for an upcoming trip.  They make it simple to compare rates and amenities for a variety of hotels, rental cars and airfares.  Hotels.com leads the category this year with strong scores for Quality and Consideration.

“Hotels.com has tried to set itself apart from the competition with advertising – like their ‘captain obvious’ campaign – and their rewards program,” says Joan Sinopoli, Vice President of Brand Solutions for Harris Poll.  Notably, Hotels.com is the only Online Travel Service brand to show significant year to year change in Brand Equity.  Expedia.com and Orbitz.com also rank above the Online Travel Service category average.

Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts Leads the Luxury Hotel Rankings for the First Time

Whether traveling on a budget, with a large family or for a longer stay, there are a vast array of hotel choices and styles for consumers.  The Harris Poll EquiTrend study includes 48 hotel brands in five categories; Luxury, Full Service, Mid-Market, Extended Stay and Economy.  Across those five categories, four brands retain their Brand of the Year status from 2014 while one leads its category for the first time.

Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts is this year’s Luxury Hotel Brand of the Year, marking its first Brand of the Year award.  “This is actually a very competitive category, and different brands have occupied the top spot over the past several years,” says Sinopoli.  Four Seasons’ top ranking is the result of a steady rise in Familiarity, along with strong Consideration scores.  Omni Hotels & Resorts, The Ritz Carlton, W Hotels and Resorts, and InterContinental Hotels & Resorts also rank above the Luxury Hotel category average.

Marriott Continues to Lead the Full Service Hotels Category 

Marriott Hotels retains the Brand of the Year title for a second year in the Full Service Hotel category.  Marriott leads the category with strong Familiarity and Consideration scores.  “While Marriott has been singled out as Brand of the Year, in fact the entire family of Marriott brands, across collections, is known for providing a consistent, quality experience,” Sinopoli says.  “Plus, many consumers enjoy their reward’s program, given the ubiquity of Marriott properties.” 

Hyatt Hotels and Resorts, Doubletree by Hilton, Sheraton Hotels & Resorts, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Courtyard Marriott, Embassy Suites and Westin Hotels & Resorts also rank above the Full Service Hotel category average.

Homewood Suites by Hilton and Hampton Inn & Suites Hold the Brand of the Year Titles in the Extended Stay Hotel and Mid-Market Hotel Categories for a Second Year 

“Suite formats and extended stay hotels play a big role in getting American families to travel again, as well as offering efficient and home-like settings for road warriors,” Sinopoli says.

The Extended Stay Hotel category features brands that offer those more home-like amenities for consumers.  Homewood Suites by Hilton tops that ranking with strong Quality and Consideration scores.  Residence Inn also ranks above the Extended Stay Hotel category average.

Hampton Inn & Suites is the Mid-Market Hotel Brand of the Year for the second year in a row, building on the significant gains achieved in 2014.  Holiday Inn Hotels & Resorts, Holiday Inn Express Hotels & Resorts, Country Inns & Suites by Carlson, Quality Inn & Suites, Fairfield Inns and Suites, Sleep Inn Hotels, and Comfort Suites each rank above the Mid-Market Hotel category average as well.   

For the Fourth Year in a Row, America’s Best Value Inn is the Economy Hotel Brand of the Year

With the longest consecutive Brand of the Year status among hotel brands, America’s Best Value Inn leads the Economy Hotel rankings in 2015.  “America’s Best Value Inn has held strong Quality and Consideration scores in the category over the past four years” says Sinopoli.  Red Roof Inn and EconoLodge also rank above the Economy Hotel category average.   

Southwest Airlines is Value Airline Brand of the Year for Fifth Year in a Row; Delta Tops the Full-Service Airline Rankings for the First Time

Through a national economic recovery, industry restructuring and an eventual return to profitability over the past five years, Southwest Airlines has maintained its position as Brand of the Year among Value Airlines.  There are only 11 other brands among this year’s 120 EquiTrend awardees who have lead their respective categories this long.  “Southwest offers a carefully cultivated, distinctively sassy, no-frills experience that allows its customers to feel like they belong to a kind of reverse-chic club,” Sinopoli says.  “It doesn’t offer a lot of extras, but it delivers on efficient, affordable travel.”  JetBlue Airways also ranks above the Value Airline category average.

“Keep Climbing” was the Delta Airlines advertising slogan until 2014.  In 2015, Delta Airlines reached the summit as Brand of the Year for the first time in the Full Service Airline category.  Delta achieved this feat on the strength of its Familiarity scores and Quality ratings, with both showing steady gains over the past four years.  This is the first year that one of the national carriers has been named Brand of the Year in this category.  “Delta has strived to provide a more pleasant flying experience all around,” Sinopoli notes.  “It was among the first fleets, and became the largest fleet, to offer in-flight wifi, which can make long-haul travel easier not just for business travelers, but for families with young children.”  Alaska/Horizon Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines also rank above the Full Service Airline category average.


Harris Poll EquiTrend® Methodology 

A sample of 38,670 U.S. consumers ages 15 and over were surveyed online from January 8 through February 2, 2015 and the survey took an average of 30 minutes to complete. The total number of brands rated was 1,410. Each respondent was asked to rate a total of 40 randomly selected brands. Each brand received approximately 1,000 ratings. Data were weighted to be representative of the entire U.S. population of consumers ages 15 and over based on age by sex, education, race/ethnicity, region, income, and data from respondents ages 18 and over were also weighted for their propensity to be online. Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

The Brand Equity Index is the keystone to the EquiTrend program, providing an understanding of a brand’s overall strength. A brand’s Equity is determined by a calculation of Familiarity, Quality and Purchase Consideration. Brand of the Year is determined by a simple ranking of brands.

For information on the recent Harris Poll release referenced above, please visit us here: https://nharrisco.wpengine.com/business/Summer-Travel-Plans.html

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls. 

Harris Poll EquiTrend® study results disclosed in this release may not be used for advertising, marketing or promotional purposes without the prior written consent of Harris Poll.

Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

About The Harris Poll®

Over the last 5 decades, Harris Polls have become media staples.  With comprehensive experience and precise technique in public opinion polling, along with a proven track record of uncovering consumers’ motivations and behaviors, The Harris Poll has gained strong brand recognition around the world. The Harris Poll offers a diverse portfolio of proprietary client solutions to transform relevant insights into actionable foresight for a wide range of industries including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer packaged goods. The Harris Poll Equitrend® Brand Equity Study benchmarks the bonds between brands and consumers, annually recognizing the highest ranked brands in each category using an academically vetted brand equity model with elements like familiarity, quality, and purchase consideration. Contact us for more information.