Tenet Partners Reveals the Top 15 Most Powerful Travel and Entertainment Brands

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Disney claims the top spot; Reputation and Favorability across major hotel brands falters, while the strength and Favorability of airline brands continues to grow

With the busy summer travel season officially kicking off this week, Tenet Partners, a leading brand innovation and marketing consultancy, today revealed its ranking of the Top 15 Most Powerful Travel and Entertainment Brands. The Walt Disney Company leads as the number #1 brand, with Hilton Hotels & Resorts and Marriott International taking the second and third place, respectfully.

The Top 15 Most Powerful Travel and Entertainment Brands are ranked by a unique, quantitative measure called BrandPower. Based upon an annual US survey of approximately ten thousand opinion elites and business-decision makers, BrandPower is a weighted composite of two key metrics that contribute to a brand’s ability to drive long-term growth: Familiarity and Favorability. Familiarity measures awareness of the brand. Favorability is the perception of the brand (among those who are well aware of it), and is based upon three attributes that tie directly to future business performance: Overall Reputation, Perception of Management, and Investment Potential.

Key Findings

  • The Walt Disney Company leads as the #1 Most Powerful Travel and Entertainment Brand. With a BrandPower of 75.8, both its Familiarity (degree of awareness) and Favorability (positive perception) increased year-over-year. Across the three dimensions that together form Favorability: Overall Reputation, Perception of Management and Investment Potential, the past year proved to be a strong one for the company, as each dimension reached its highest point since 2010. The company was also a strong performer on Tenet’s 2015 Top 100 Most Powerful Brands, taking the #4 position.
  • Hotel & Entertainment brands dominate the Top 15 ranking with a total of eight brands hailing from the category, including Walt Disney (#1), Hilton Hotels & Resorts (#2), Marriott International (#3), Trump Organization (#4), MGM Resorts International (#10), Las Vegas Sands (#11), Caesars Entertainment (#12) and Starwood Hotels & Resorts (#15). While hotel brands are the most represented across the Top 15, most of these brands’ Favorability scores (with the exception of Disney) experienced some of the sharpest declines year-over-year. These findings signal that opinion elites/business-decision makers (frequent travelers themselves) have diminishing confidence in these hotel brands, and in the eyes of these savvy investors – are less attractive financial assets, unlikely to outperform their travel and entertainment peers in the sector.
  • Hilton Hotels & Resorts and Marriott International: As overall awareness (Familiarity) of these brands continues to grow, but with Favorability declining, this movement indicates that their respective brand equities and reputations aren’t necessarily moving their brand in a positive direction. While consumers’ are becoming more aware of these companies, their confidence regarding their overall growth, leadership, and ability to secure future earnings is waning.

The past five years proved to be difficult for the nation’s hotel industry. Faced with declining demand for rooms, increased construction costs, and the rising cost of fuel, many hotel companies struggled to grow their brands. However, coming out of the recession, both Hilton and Marriott have moved swiftly to address consumers’ evolving needs and desires. Hilton continues to be on the forefront of social media and digital innovation. Last year, the company was recognized by Travel + Leisure for their award-winning “International Use it or Lose it Week” campaign, in which together with Foursquare, created geo-targeted check-in ads to remind people to take full advantage of their vacation days.

Marriott faced a number of challenges this past year, contributing to its decline in Favorability. From facing stiff competition from peer-to-peer booking site, Airbnb, to falling short on revenue earnings to confronting a public controversy around its decision to block guest WiFi, the company is now undertaking a major shift in its strategy to appeal to the next generation of consumers: millennial travelers. The company’s recent efforts to tap into this growing audience include launching a rooftop picnic pop-up in London and teaming up with Netflix to become the first major hotel chain to offer Netflix-enabled TVs in every room.

  • Leading airline brands, including United Airlines (#6), Delta Air Lines (#7), and US Airways (#14) demonstrate the strongest brand momentum across the Top 15, increasing on both dimensions of BrandPower: Familiarity and Favorability. Not only have these three brands grown their overall awareness and improved upon their corporate reputation year-over-year, but have done so consistently since 2010. Southwest, consistently rated as one of the top airlines in customer service, has shown an increase in year-over-year Favorability.

Across the industry, more recent declines in oil prices following the recession have helped airlines add more routes and offer more affordable flights, in turn allowing them to expand their market presence and service networks. When American Airlines (#5), the leading airline brand, and US Airways merged in 2013 it created the world’s biggest airline. Taking the American Airlines name, it absorbed a global network of nearly 6,700 flights to more than 330 destinations across 50 countries. Since 2005, mergers have reduced the US’s major airlines brands from nine to four. American, United, Delta and Southwest now control more than 80% of the US market.

While expanding their market presence, working to provide superior customer service and build customer loyalty, have long been key guiding principles of these leading airline brands. Innovations in in-flight entertainment, product enhancements that include larger over-head storage and extra legroom space, to smartphone apps that allow customers to better manage and plan their travel experience, have all played a vital role boosting consumer awareness, but also in creating stronger brand experiences and associations.

  • Rental car brands, with only two brands represented amongst the Top 15, demonstrated a wide disparity in terms of their performance. Avis Budget Group (#9) outperformed competitor Hertz Global (#13) by a wide margin, earning a BrandPower score of 40.4, 11 points higher than Hertz. Across the board, Avis Budget Group improved year-over-year on Familiarity and across the three dimensions of Favorability: Overall Reputation, Perception of Management, and Investment Potential.

Despite the wave of auto recalls that hit the auto industry this past year, the rental car industry has fared well. Both Avis Budget Group and Hertz Global Holdings have reduced their fleets, helping them increase their prices. In the wake of splitting its auto and construction-equipment businesses into two companies, Hertz encountered a corporate accounting error, which marred three years of its financial reports, and then released a 3 percent decline in sales year-over-year. Meanwhile, Avis Budget saw shares grow 50 percent in 2014.

“While hotels are well represented on this year’s Top Travel and Entertainment Brands, they are under pressure from weaker corporate reputations,” said Steve Makadok, Partner of Tenet’s CoreBrand Analytics practice. “Benefiting from high awareness in the marketplace, the challenge – and opportunity for these brands is to build on their existing brand equity and focus on creating more meaningful, innovative and compelling customer experiences that will allow them to drive long-term growth and enterprise value.”

Click here to view the Top 15 Most Powerful Travel and Entertainment Brands of 2015

Methodology

A company’s BrandPower score is determined by a survey of approximately ten thousand influential people on two key brand metrics: Familiarity and Favorability. This carefully screened audience, representing opinion elites/business-decision-makers at the top 20 percent of American corporations are polled on the following:

Familiarity – Respondents are considered to be familiar with a brand if they state that they know more than just the company name. Familiarity scores can range from 0 to 100.

Favorability - Respondents familiar with a corporation are then asked about three dimensions that together, form a Favorability score, also on a scale of 0 to 100.

  • Overall Reputation – Do you have a favorable impression of the corporate brand?
  • Perception of Management – What is your perception of the company’s management? How would you assess the way senior leadership leads the enterprise and engages stakeholders? Does leadership have future-forward outlook on the market in which it operates, as well as on the competition?
  • Investment Potential – Would you invest in this company?

BrandPower is calculated as a function of Familiarity and Favorability, enabling easy comparison among competitors, against industry averages and against world-class brands.

About this ranking

The starting point for determining the Top 15 Most Powerful Travel and Entertainment Brands is the CoreBrand® Index (CBI) – a quantitative database based on a continuous benchmark tracking survey of nearly 1,000 companies across 50 industries. The study has been in the field continuously since 1990.

About Tenet Partners
Formed from the merger of Brandlogic and CoreBrand, Tenet Partners is a brand innovation and marketing consultancy that helps companies create brand value and unearth business opportunities by putting customers at the center of their business strategies. For more information, visit http://www.tenetpartners.com.

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Linday Beltzer
@tenetpartners
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