Monday, April 11, 2011

Travel Sector Showing Signs of Recovery in 2011 Harris Poll EquiTrend® Study

Southwest Rules the Skies; Hilton Top ranked in Two Hotel Categories

New York, N.Y. — April 11, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — In a year of major airline mergers and baggage fees, no-frills carrier Southwest Airlines was named 2011 Harris Poll EquiTrend® Airline Brand of the Year, with JetBlue making a tremendous improvement to be ranked second. Hawaiian Airlines is ranked third, while Delta had a significant improvement in brand equity to rank fourth. Overall, awards are given in each of 46 different categories.

Southwest’s response to other major carriers inserting heavy baggage fees is being met with consumer approval as evidenced by the results of the study. This was the second consecutive year Southwest ranked highest in the airline category.

“Across industries, consumers are looking for value and transparency,” said Jeni Lee Chapman, Executive Vice President of Brand Consulting for Harris Interactive. “Southwest’s message is definitely connecting with fliers.”

The 2011 Harris Poll EquiTrend® study announces their Travel Brands of the Year in four additional categories: Hotels (Full Service: Hilton Hotels; Luxury: Omni; Mid-Market: Holiday Inn, Extended Stay: Homewood Suites; Economy: Red Roof Inn); Cruise Lines (Norwegian Cruise Line); Rental Cars (Enterprise), and Amusement Attractions (Disney World).

Within the Rental car category, Enterprise Holdings brands ranked highest in two of the top three spots, with Enterprise Rent-A-Car ranking highest and National Car Rental, most improved in the category, ranking third. Hertz ranked second.

“Despite a perception of cost cutting among consumers, I would describe the behavior more as cost managing,” said Chapman. “Brands that offer choice and flexibility, such as Disney World, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Enterprise Rent-A-Car, are seen as delivering value.”

Norwegian Cruise Line, known for their ‘freestyle cruising’ which offers guests multiple dining and entertainment options, took the top spot in the cruise line category, followed by Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean. Hilton brands topped the Full-Service and Extended Stay hotel categories, with their Hilton Hotels and Homewood Suites properties, respectively. Omni was highest ranked in the Upscale hotel category, while Holiday Inn ranked highest among Mid-Market hotels and Red Roof Inn ranked highest within the Economy hotel category.

Among Amusement Attractions, Disney World saw a significant improvement in year-over-year brand equity, followed by sister property Disneyland, and Universal Theme Parks.
 
Methodology
The EquiTrend® study evaluates measures including: Equity, Consumer Connection, Commitment, Brand Behavior, Brand Advocacy, and Trust. The keystone to the program is Equity, which provides an understanding of a brand's overall strength and is determined by a calculation of Familiarity, Quality, and Purchase Consideration.

This year’s Harris Poll EquiTrend® study was conducted online among 25,099 U.S. consumers ages 15 and over between January 11 and 27, 2011. A total of 1,273 brands were rated in 53 separate categories. Each respondent was asked to rate a total of 60 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 on the basis of age sex, education, race/ethnicity, region, and income, and data from respondents ages 18 and over were also weighted for their propensity to be online.

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

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

 Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.
 
 Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries. Visit www.harrisinteractive.com