Harris Poll: Millennials Boost Airline, Cruise Line And Sharing Economy Brands

Staff Report

Friday, May 19th, 2017

With a rising disposable income and a desire for luxury, millennials are giving a boost to travel brands—most notably airlines and cruise lines—according to new research from The Harris Poll's 29th annual EquiTrend Study, which measures brand health over time. The study also shows that millennials are behind the momentum for developing category sharing economy brands. Harris Poll's study reveals the strongest brands across the media, travel, financial, automotive, entertainment, retail, restaurant, technology, household and nonprofit industries based on consumer response.

While equity among travel brands is stable overall, Harris Poll's research shows that airline brand equity increased 4 points among millennials compared to the previous year, while cruise lines increased 3 points. Hotels saw a slight increase (+1.3) among millennials. Since brand equity tends to resist movement, the equity gains and declines among travel categories is significant.

"When we consider where millennials are in their lives, we can understand why they are having such a positive impact on brand health in the travel industry," said Joan Sinopoli, vice president of brand solutions at The Harris Poll. "The oldest millennials are approaching 40 years old with their prime earnings years still ahead of them. They have the disposable income to indulge their desire to experience the world while exploring their aspirations for luxury."

The EquiTrend Brand Equity Index is comprised of three factors—Familiarity, Quality and Purchase Consideration—that result in a brand equity rating for each brand. Brands ranking highest in equity receive the Harris Poll EquiTrend "Brand of the Year" award for their respective categories. This year, more than 100,000 U.S. consumers assessed more than 4,000 brands (including 100 travel brands) across more than 450 categories. The full Harris Poll EquiTrend Brands of the Year list can be found at http://www.theharrispoll.com/equitrend-rankings/2017.

The 2017 Harris Poll EquiTrend Travel Brands of the Year

Award Category


Full Service Airline

American Airlines

Value Airline

Southwest Airlines

Cruise Line

Royal Caribbean

Economy Hotel

Microtel Inn & Suites

Extended Stay Hotel

Homewood Suites by Hilton

Luxury Hotel

J.W. Marriott

Midscale Hotel

Hampton Inn & Suites

Premium Hotel


Hilton Hotels & Resorts and Marriott Hotels

Upscale Hotel

Courtyard Marriott

Online Travel Service


Rental Car

Enterprise Rent-A-Car