NEW YORK, June 27, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Value is king when it comes to travel, suggests findings from the 2013 Harris Poll EquiTrend® (EQ) study, which shows strong Brand Equity gains in categories including Value Airline and Online Travel Website. For the third straight year, Southwest Airlines, widely known for their "Bags Fly Free" campaign, is named Brand of the Year in the Value Airline category. Alaska/Horizon Airlines takes home top honors for Full-Service carrier. The study, which measures the perceptions of 38,500+ American consumers on more than 1,500 brands across more than 150 categories, looks at several aspects of the travel industry including air, hotel, online travel websites and more.
Related findings from a recent Harris Poll show that 64% of Americans are planning leisure travel this summer, up from 60% in 2012. Among those planning a getaway, more than half of adults (52%) anticipate spending $1,000 or more, with $1,665 being the average amount Americans expect to spend on their summer vacation.
"The summer travel season is upon us, and choosing where to go on vacation is a big decision, especially with anticipated leisure travel up four percentage points over last year," says Allison Powell, Research Director at Harris Interactive. "Consumers want to feel like they're getting their money's worth when it comes to all aspects of travel – from flying to renting a car to booking their hotel stay – and will shop around to get the best value out of their travel dollars and vacation experience."
More Bang for the Buck
In a coupon-crazed society, it's no surprise that Americans are willing to comparison shop in order to get the most for their travel dollars. Expedia, a well-known site that allows travel planners to compare deals, moves into the top spot for 2013 in the Online Travel Website category.
"The Online Travel Website category made solid gains for 2013. Expedia.com earns a strong 2013 score, their highest in the nine years they have been measured in EquiTrend," says Powell. "That score, which earns them the distinction of Brand of the Year, is mainly driven by gains in Purchase Consideration."
Other brands ranked above the category average include Travelocity and Orbitz.
Online Travel Website brands ranked above category average:
Expedia.com - 2013 Online Travel Website Brand of the Year
Other Online Travel Service brands in study ranked below category average (alphabetically): Hotels.com, KAYAK, priceline.com
Little Guys Rise to the Top
Alaska/Horizon Airlines comes out on top for the second year in a row, named Brand of the Year in the Full Service Airline category. Hawaiian Airlines and Delta Air Lines also rank above the category average. United Airlines moves above the category average, with strong Brand Equity gains based on gradually improving Quality and Purchase Consideration upticks.
Full Service Airline brands ranked above category average:
Alaska/Horizon Airlines - 2013 Full Service Airline Brand of the Year
Delta Air Lines
Other Full Service Airline brands in study ranked below category average (alphabetically): Air Canada, American Airlines, US Airways
Value Flights Take Off
Strong year-over-year Brand Equity gains are shown in the Value Airlines category. Among these airlines, Southwest earns the Brand of the Year distinction for the third year in a row and is the only Value Airline brand to rank above the category average.
"With value savvy consumers, it's about more than just offering low cost fares. Southwest has bucked the common trend of charging for checked bags and change fees – a practice that could help explain the comparatively lower scores seen by most other airlines," says Powell. "While Southwest has risen to the top to compete with the major airlines in recent years, it still maintains its original personalized brand character and fosters a unique atmosphere for its customers."
Value Airline brand ranked above category average:
Southwest Airlines - 2013 Value Airline Brand of the Year
Other Value Airline brands in study ranked below category average (alphabetically): AirTran Airways, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Spirit Airlines
Enterprise Rides Off with Brand of the Year Title
The Rental Car segment is another category showing Brand Equity gains in recent years. Enterprise is Brand of the Year for the third year in a row, with Hertz and Budget both also coming in above the category average.
Car Rental brands ranked above category average:
Enterprise Rent-A-Car - 2013 Car Rental Brand of the Year
Hertz Car Rental
Budget Rent A Car
Other Car Rental brands in study ranked below category average (alphabetically): Advantage Rent A Car, Alamo Rent A Car, Avis Rent A Car, Dollar Rent A Car, National Car Rental, Thrifty Car Rental
While many value driven categories are on the rise, the Economy Hotel category is the only group to decline as a whole in Brand Equity for 2013, driven by lower levels of Purchase Consideration. However, America's Best Value Inn maintains its top ranking for 2013 as the Economy Hotel Brand of The Year. EconoLodge, Super 8, Red Roof Inn and Rodeway Inn also finish above the category average.
"America's Best Value Inn is among the brands in the Economy Hotel category with lower Familiarity scores, but Americans that are familiar with this brand give it strong Quality and Consideration scores," says Powell. "Also, it enjoys strong Consumer Connection and Brand Momentum Scores, showing that Americans connect with this brand and see it as a brand of the future." Consumer Connection is comprised of Emotion, Fit Trust and Performance, while Brand Momentum includes Energy, Ubiquity, Future Outlook, Leadership and Popularity.
Economy Hotel brands ranked above category average:
America's Best Value Inn -- 2013 Economy Hotel Brand of the Year
Red Roof Inn
Other Economy Hotel brands in study ranked below category average (alphabetically): Motel 6
Harris Poll Methodology
This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between March 13 and 18, 2013 among 2,276 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.
All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.
Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive 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 the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.
These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.
Harris Poll EquiTrend® Methodology
A sample of 38,814 U.S. consumers ages 15 and over were surveyed online by Harris Interactive from January 11 through February 8, 2013 and the survey took an average of 35 minutes to complete. The sample was from the Harris Interactive online panel of respondents, a database consisting of over a million cooperative respondents who have double-opted in to be randomly invited by Harris Interactive to take part in online surveys. The total number of brands rated was 1,511. 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. This is the same precision weighting approach Harris has used to become the leading online polling organization when calling elections.
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.
An academic study concluded that when using the Harris Poll EquiTrend® Brand Equity model to determine brand value (as opposed to a financially-based measure of brand value), the stock performance of the top brands consistently surpassed the market during the 2008 financial downturn. The academic study findings appear in the September 2012 issue of the International Journal of Research in Marketing in the paper titled, "The Performance of Global Brands in the 2008 Financial Crisis: A Test of Two Brand Value Measures." The paper was authored by Johny K. Johansson, Claudiu V. Dimofte and Sanal K. Mazvancheryl.
The 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 Interactive.
Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.
About Harris Interactive
Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading 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 proprietary solutions in the areas of market and customer insight, corporate brand and reputation strategy, and marketing, advertising, public relations and communications research. Harris possesses expertise in a wide range of industries including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Additionally, Harris has a portfolio of multi-client offerings that complement our custom solutions while maximizing our client's research investment. Serving clients in more than 196 countries and territories through our North American and European offices, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us - and our clients - stay ahead of what's next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.
SOURCE Harris Interactive