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Southwest Airlines leads travel industry in mobile customer satisfaction: ForeSee

March 26, 2013

Southwest Airlines is the leader when it comes to mobile customer satisfaction in the travel industry thanks to a simple, no-frills approach that translates well to the mobile experience, according to a new report from ForeSee.

The rest of the airline industry trails behind Southwest Airlines, with no company within 5 points of it in mobile satisfaction. Customers gave Southwest Airlines a score of 82 on ForeSee’s 100-point scale, followed by Choice Hotels with 80 and Marriott with 79.

“Southwest is clearly ahead of the rest,” said Eric Feinberg, senior director of mobile, media and entertainment at ForeSee, Ann Arbor, MI. “Consumers love the simplicity of their whole experience.

“The other thing worth noting is that competition is really pretty tight, few companies are really standing out from the pack, and as a whole the scores are fairly blah,” he said.

“That means there is a lot of opportunity to innovate and provide a superior experience, but that’s going to take a better understanding of what the customer wants.”

Understanding mobile users
The ForeSee “Mobile Satisfaction Index: Travel Edition” report found that of all the measured travel categories, hotel mobile customers are most satisfied, with an average score of 78. Airlines and car rental companies tied at 77 while online travel agencies score lowest at 76.

When it comes to mobile customer satisfaction with hotel sites and applications, Choice Hotels is on top with a score of 80, followed by Marriott with 79, Hyatt with 78, Intercontinental and Wyndham each with 78, Hilton and Starwood each with 77 and Best Western with 76.

With 84 percent of leisure travelers visiting the mobile sites and apps of online travel agencies, the competition is tight in this category with room for differentiation and innovation. has a mobile customer satisfaction score of 78

The result suggests travel aggregators need to do a better job of understanding what leisure travelers need in the mobile space. and come out on top in terms of mobile customer satisfaction in the online travel agency category and each has a score of 78. They are followed by and, each with 76, and and, each with 75.

After Southwest Airlines’ commanding lead in the airlines category with a score of 82 comes American Airlines and Delta Airlines, each with a score of 77. They are followed by United Airlines with a score of 75 and US Airways with 74.

The mobile experience
In the car rental category, Avis Rent-a-Car and Enterprise Rent-a-Car each have a score of 78, Budget and Hertz each come in at 77 and Dollar has 75.

For car rentals, Avis and Enterprise share the podium at 78, Budget and Hertz tie for second with a 77. Dollar trails everyone at 75.

The results also show that 70 percent of mobile users book from home while only 12 percent are on the go when booking these services.

“Our research finds that more than 70 percent of those surveyed who were using a mobile device to do some travel planning were doing so from the comfort of their own home,” Mr. Feinberg said. “So location isn’t so much about where in the world are you using your mobile device, but where in the home.

“That could mean trouble for PC makers, but it also emphasizes the importance of providing the best experience possible on the mobile platform,” he said.

Other key findings include customers using mobile apps are slightly more satisfied than those using mobile sites, with respective scores of 78 and 77.

Additionally, 43 percent of users access mobile travel sites and apps to research compared with 23 percent who do so to book a service or flight. Those using mobile to research give the services a satisfaction score of 77 while those who do so to book give a score of 79.

“Our research shows that the mobile experience is lagging,” Mr. Feinberg said. “A better understanding of how customers are using mobile devices in their travel planning can provide some direction to travel brands.

“And let’s get granular with that understanding  – what’s the experience like on different-sized screens and operating systems,” he said. “It’s anyone’s game now, and the company that innovates best can solidify the loyalty of its customer base, draw new customers and get ahead of the pack in a the new mobile frontier.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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