It’s a fact of life and travel that unhappy employees rarely give good service. After all, if you hate your job, it’s pretty hard to show your customers the love.
But do happy employees make for happy customers? It can’t hurt, suggests Robert Hohman, CEO of Glassdoor.com, which is releasing its second annual Travel Industry Report Card today. As a clearinghouse where employees can rate and review the companies they work for, the website provides a good barometer of worker morale and satisfaction.
“We’ve all experienced situations where happy employees gave us good customer service,” said Hohman. “With the Memorial Day holiday coming up and so many people traveling, we believe our data can be a bit of a litmus test.”
Consider the airline industry, in which 13 North American carriers were rated on a 5-point scale. Leading the list were Southwest and Virgin America, both of which scored 4.2, followed by Continental at 3.5. Employees were markedly less happy at Pinnacle, which scraped the bottom of the morale bucket with a score of 2.1.
In fact, most airlines scored lower this year than last, which probably won’t surprise many travelers. “It’s reflective of the fact that we’ve gone through a tough economic time,” said Hohman, “and the travel industry was hit disproportionately hard. In many cases, employees were asked to do more with less or for less money.”
However, with the economy rebounding, Hohman is optimistic that the numbers will follow suit. As evidence he points to United, which jumped from 2.1 last year to 2.6 this year, an improvement of 23 percent. “They have new leadership [Jeff Smisek vs. Glenn Tilton] and a clear vision,” he told msnbc.com. “Employees are pretty happy about it.”
That, suggests Hohman, could be indicative of a larger trend: “The travel industry is definitely cyclical. When things are bad, they’re pretty bad. When things are good, they’re really good. I’d like to think were heading into a good 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.