THE CURRENT STATE OF CONSUMER TRUST IN TRAVEL AND HOSPITALITY BRANDS
of U.S. adults say they tend to trust travel and hospitality companies by default, exactly in line with the 47% who say the same about companies overall.
Share of U.S. adults who trust the following industries to act in the best interests of consumers:
Hotels and resorts most benefit from the public’s unearned trust: 3 in 5 U.S. adults say they tend to trust hotels and that the hotels would have to do something bad to lose that trust. This is reflected in Morning Consult’s Most Trusted Brands list, where hotel brands took up eight of the 10 spots.
Notably, hotels and resorts are the subindustry with the lowest financial barrier to consumer participation: On average, it is less expensive to stay in a hotel than it is to take a domestic flight or go on a cruise. More consumers have done it, too: 77% of the public said they have stayed in a hotel or resort, compared to 65% who have flown and 27% who have taken a cruise.
Cruise lines and airlines have to work harder to earn trust from consumers than hotels do, simply due to the nature of their business, something that’s only been further underlined amid the pandemic. Hotels also benefit from being more affordable to consumers, avoiding situations where one experience defines their brand.
Prior to the pandemic, 51% of business travelers said they traveled for business at least four times a year. That figure has dropped to 31% amid the pandemic. Roughly one-third (34%) said they have not traveled at all since the pandemic started.
Looking ahead, most business travelers said they plan to travel for business this summer (58%) or this fall and winter (62%), but at least 3 in 10 said they don’t plan to travel for their jobs for the rest of the year.
Business travel is coming back and, with it, the travel and hospitality’s industry's most reliable group of customers.
And while many business travelers may remain loyal to the brands they loved prior to the pandemic, their loyalty could shift based on new attributes surrounding trust — namely, brands protecting their customers from the novel coronavirus.
Extent to which trust is a factor in deciding to purchase from a brand
Trust is a big factor when consumers are deciding on travel brands, with little difference by subindustry. More than 4 in 5 respondents say trust plays a major or minor role as they’re selecting an airline, hotel or cruise line, with at least half saying it plays a major role.
As a point of comparison, these trust levels are roughly similar to that of financial services brands, according to Morning Consult’s Most Trusted Brands: Financial Services report.
Trust is a bigger factor for two important demographics: rewards members and business travelers, two groups that tend to travel more and are more likely than the general public to be return customers. More than 3 in 5 airline and hotel rewards members cite it as a major factor.
The survey shows similar responses for Americans who make more than $100,000 per year, another key audience for the travel and hospitality industry. Sixty-eight percent of that demographic said trust is a major factor in their decision to purchase from a specific company, while 61% said the same for hotels and 59% for cruise lines.
If a travel and hospitality company in the categories below that you trust did something to break your trust, how would your loyalty to their products or services be affected, if at all?
Travel brands risk losing at least one-third of their consumer base if trust is somehow broken.
Those with rewards memberships with one of the subindustries are about as likely as the public overall to say they’d stop using a brand if it broke their trust, signaling that rewards programs don’t necessarily strengthen relationships between a consumer and a brand.
Business travelers, who make up the bulk of daily travelers, are more likely to shed a brand if it does something to break their trust.