June 8, 2012 at 4:31 PM ET
When you’re making travel plans, you probably consider the 3 Ps: places, prices and (travel) providers.
According to a new Travel Industry Report Card from Glassdoor.com, a career-focused community website, you may want to consider a fourth: People, as in the people that work for the airlines, hotels and rental car companies you choose.
“There’s a relationship between satisfied employees and good service,” said Glassdoor CEO and co-founder Robert Hohman. “I’m reminded of it every time I fly. Sometimes I meet cranky flight attendants who are clearly unhappy in their job and other times I meet ones who really enjoy their work.”
So, what travel companies have the most satisfied staffers? Based on employee reviews posted on Glassdoor, here's a chart of the top 10 (on a scale of 1–5):
According to Hohman, Orbitz took the spot from Southwest this year despite inherent challenges in its business model.
“Among the online travel agencies, Orbitz has had the toughest row to hoe [because] their business was disproportionately dependent on air, which is a low-margin business,” he told msnbc.com. “[CEO] Barney Harford has done an exceptional job of communicating what needs to be done and instilling passion in the company.”
Other high scorers in individual categories included Princess Cruises (3.3) and Enterprise Rent-A-Car (3.0). The least satisfied employees among the 30 companies in the report worked at Pinnacle Airlines (1.8) and Choice Hotels (2.8).
The benefits of satisfied staffers accrue in other ways as well, says Donna Quadra-Felitti, an associate professor of hospitality and tourism at NYU. “Happy employees don’t leave, which reduces training and turnover costs so you end up with more funds to invest back into guest services,” she said.
“Whether that means you hire another employee and, therefore, give better service or invest in new technology that touches the guest, that’s the goal,” she told msnbc.com.
That’s especially true in the travel industry, she says, because employee-guest interaction plays such an outsized role: “The travel industry is 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. Guest services is very demanding — it can be hard to smile for a long time.”
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Rob Lovitt is a longtime travel writer who still believes the journey is as important as the destination. Follow him at Twitter.
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