Surprise! The most trusted travel company of 2018 is…

The most trusted travel company is...

A new study reveals the most trusted travel company in the world. You’ll never guess it.

The research, conducted by the non-profit Values Institute, ranked 43 businesses in 8 key categories, including airlines, appliances, hotels, mobile, online streaming, and retail. Even the pollsters seem baffled by the results.

That’s the thing about trust. It’s often so elusive, and so difficult to quantify, that it’s impossible to fully explain. After reviewing the data and talking to everyone involved, that may be the only certain takeaway from this exercise. It just is what it is.

But it’s worth a little more analysis because it could steer not only your next hotel booking, but your next consumer purchase as well.

And the most trusted travel company is …

Holiday Inn.

Yes, that Holiday Inn.

The mid-scale Atlanta Hotel chain was the third most trusted brand in America behind Amazon and virtually tied with Whirlpool, and the most trusted travel industry brand, according to The Values Institute.

I reached a delighted Errol Williams, a vice president for the Holiday Inn brand. He couldn’t explain the chain’s 22-point surge from last year — but, he said, we’ll take it.

“Holiday Inn has a great heritage of providing warm, welcoming hospitality,” he told me. “We’re honored by the trust we have from our guests and will continue to create authentic, joyful moments to both business and leisure travelers.”

Last year, Holiday Inn came in 11th place overall, with Marriott winning most trusted travel company honors.

How do you measure trust?

So how do you measure trust? Mark Weinfeld, the research director and survey creator at the Values Institute, uses a proprietary survey tool that measures trust for a brand in five alliterative categories. They are competence, consistency, concern, candor, and connection — the Five Cs.

“Each of the five C scores are weighed in accordance with our hierarchy of values,” he says. “The higher up the pyramid, the greater impact on trust.”

When it comes to the hospitality industry, its focus is servicing the customer by providing a stress-free, relaxing experience, says Weinfeld.

“They offer products, services, and often promote amenities that show their excellence in quality, and they generally meet the customer’s expectations and even exceed them,” he says. “When a customer walks into a hotel, and into their hotel room, their expectations of cleanliness, comfort, and convenience are often met. This consistency helps build trust with the customer.”

What happened to Holiday Inn? How did it become the most trusted travel company?

“There does not seem to be a clear, logical reason as to why Holiday Inn scored so much higher compared to last year, and why they ranked above the others,” he says.

A few theories about why Holiday Inn is the most trusted travel company

The leading theory on Holiday Inn’s rise is the simplest — it’s just taking better care of its customers. I spoke with numerous hotel guests who say they appreciate the brand’s no-nonsense approach to customer service. They expect and receive a clean room, a comfortable bed, and breakfast.

Another possibility: This is the product of a sentimental shift to a familiar hotel brand.

“The results of our study shows that respondents 35 and older gave Holiday Inn significantly higher scores than Hilton and Marriott, especially those older than 55,” says Weinfeld of The Values Institute.
Holiday Inn scored 12 points higher among the 55-and-older age group compared to Hilton, and 17 points higher than Hyatt among the same age group.

“Holiday Inn can connect at a deeper level than both Hilton and Marriott with older customers, and appears to have a lasting effect that builds trust with the brand,” he says.

Then again, maybe it’s not about the rise of Holiday Inn, but about the fall of other hotels. Take Marriott, which dropped from number 2 to number 15 (scroll down for the full results). Allen Adamson, the co-founder of the marketing firm Metaforce and author of Shift Ahead: How the Best Companies Stay Relevant in a Fast Changing World, remembered the advice Bill Marriott’s father once offered:

With each great success, he would tell me to stop patting myself on the back and would remind me of one of his favorite sayings, “Success is never final.” (I think he read this in a book by Winston Churchill.) From then on, I realized there are still great hills to climb, new markets to conquer and more guests to satisfy.

Adds Adamson, “As demographics, markets, technology, and global forces continue to rapidly change, so, too, will the needs and expectations of these guests.”

Maybe Holiday Inn didn’t win. Maybe the other hotels lost.

Confessions of a frequent Holiday Inn guest

I spent more than 350 days on the road last year, many of them in Holiday Inn properties. For me, Holiday Inn has always been a well-kept secret. The hotel maintains strict quality standards across its properties but often goes above and beyond to make an acceptable hotel stay even better.

Few guests noticed when Holiday Inn embarked on an ambitious $1 billion rebranding in 2007, and only slightly more paid attention when it reasserted its newness in 2013.

Holiday Inn didn’t gain my trust with an ambitious makeover, but by doing right consistently. The sheets were always clean, the beds are always comfortable. I could rely on hot water for my tea downstairs every morning. And Holiday Inn never lost a hotel reservation.

Of course, the Holiday Inn guests I spoke with said it’s the big things that also matter to them. Holiday Inn, and its parent company InterContinental Hotels Group, aren’t playing the aggressive kind of loyalty program devaluation games that some of its competitors are. And they tell me they like the clean, modern look of the post-2007 Holiday Inn brand.

But in the end, winning the competition for your trust may come down to a lot of seemingly insignificant things that even the researchers don’t entirely understand.

Here are the 20 most trusted companies of 2018

Here are this year’s winners along with their weighted score:

1. Amazon 296.95
2. Whirlpool 286.45
3. Holiday Inn 286.31
4. Amazon Prime 285.45
5. Samsung 285.36
6. Netflix 283.63
7. Hilton 280.48
8. Hyatt 278.59
9. Home Depot 276.55
10. Sheraton 275.88
11. Kenmore 275.83
12. Target 274.99
13. Maytag 274.61
14. LG 274.05
15. Marriott 273.06
16. Southwest 271.98
17. Costco 271.60
18. CVS 268.64
19. Best Western 267.81
20. Wendy’s 266

Underwritten by

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by

With nearly 20 years in the industry, over 128 airport covered in the U.S. and Canada, and over 1,000 Hotel and Parking Partners-we provide travelers the best options on how to get to the airport when flying. Whether you want to; drive yourself and park near an Airport (Airport Parking), stay the night before your flight at an airport hotel and leave your car (Hotel and Parking Package), or take a shared Shuttle/Private Car/Limo to the Airport- we got you covered. The best deals can be found online, and booking a reservation has never been easier. You can explore all of our options by visiting us at,,, and

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Generali Global Assistance

Generali Global Assistance has been a leading provider of travel insurance and other assistance services for more than 25 years. We offer a full suite of innovative, vertically integrated travel insurance and emergency services. Generali Global Assistance is part of The Europ Assistance (EA) Group, who pioneered the travel assistance industry in 1963 and continues to be the leader in providing real-time assistance anywhere in the world, delivering on our motto – You Live, We Care.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by

Since its inception over three decades ago, G1G has continued to revolutionize the travel insurance industry by being the only aggregator to operate a customer portal, placing all of the user's primary needs in one place. We have continued to innovate and disrupt the market by reimagining the way travel insurance can be delivered to the end user in ways no competition can. Simply put, no one knows the market as well as its founders and no one else shares G1G values and mission.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Arch RoamRight

Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

VisitorsCoverage is one of the world’s most trusted providers of travel insurance for millions of global travelers in over 175 countries. Working with top-rated travel insurance partner providers, VisitorsCoverage’s award-winning search, compare and purchase technology simplifies the travel insurance process and finds the best deals for the coverage you need to explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at VisitorsCoverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International,, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.

Send this to a friend