The employees -- some of them, at least -- have spoken and Hotwire president Clem Bason heads the rankings among online travel agency, travel review site and global distribution system chieftans with an 89% approval rating in Glassdoor.com's 2011 Travel Industry Report Card.
The report card ranked nine of these tech companies. To be in the mix they had to attract at least 10 employee reviews of the companies in a two-year stretch running through May 2011.
Bason's ranking actually slipped from a 100% mark in the 2010 report card, which covered the June 2008 to June 2010 period.
Among other notable online travel bosses, ex-Travelocity CEO Hugh Jones, who transitioned to sister company Sabre Airline Solutions in April, was last in a field of nine with a 22% CEO approval rating from employees, although fewer than 10 reviews were posted about Jones. (Jones wasn't ranked in the 2010 report card.)
And, in the most-improved category in 2011 comes Orbitz Worldwide CEO Barney Harford, who scored a 76% CEO approval rating, up from 69% in the 2010 report card.
Among more than 40 airline, hotel, car rental, cruise and travel tech companies and CEOs rated, the online travel contingent included Amadeus, Expedia, Hotwire, Liberty Travel [not usually thought of as an online travel agency], Orbitz Worldwide, Sabre, Travelocity, Travelport and TripAdvisor. TripAdvisor's CEO Stephen Kaufer, who notched a 76% CEO approval rating in the 2011 report card, sits on the Glassdoor board.
Of course, these rankings can be subject to some manipulation given the small number of company reviews -- 10 -- that it takes to qualify for consideration.
Among the nine travel tech companies under the microscope, none got a Very Satisfied mark (4.01 to 5.0) as did Southwest Airlines and Virgin America.
Orbitz scored the top rank among the travel tech companies with a Satisfied rating (3.51 to 4.0).
Liberty Travel and Travelport were saddled with Dissatisfied rankings (1.51 to 2.5) while Amadeus, Expedia, Hotwire, Sabre, Travelocity and TripAdvisor all attracted OK marks (2.51 to 3.5).
Here's a Glassdoor chart tallying the travel tech company results:
Glassdoor's mission is to take TripAdvisor-like user reviews, in this case from employees, and apply them to company and CEO ratings. The reviews are posted anonymously.
Is it all just academic? An exercise in finger-pointing or butt-kissing?
Actually, Glassdoor posts jobs listings and with competition keen in trying to attract high-caliber tech employees, a company's reputation as a great or lousy place to work can have an impact.
Samantha Zupan, a Glassdoor spokeswoman, says many employees' critiques of their bosses hinged on their openness to communicating with staff, with Hotwire and Orbitz gathering support in that regard and Travelocity taking a hit.
“Employees want to feel heard, and they want to hear from the top boss how the company is doing and where the company is headed,” Zupan says.
Following are some excerpts of reviews pertaining to Hotwire, Orbitz and Travelocity.
Great mix of old people and new people keeps it interesting…Respect people, Clem is engaged and they do their best to bring people along and avoid layoffs." - Hotwire employee (San Francisco, CA)
"The senior management really tries to keep the employees happy and they've been doing a great job. In general, people are friendly, helpful and smart." - Hotwire employee (San Francisco, CA)
"Senior management goes out of their way to communicate the strategic direction and key initiatives to the employee base through Town Hall meetings and other forums. " - Orbitz employee (Chicago, IL)
"Exuberant CEO has deep passion for the industry and a lot of potential," - Orbitz employee (Chicago, IL)
In advice to senior management, a Travelocity Marketing Manager (New York, NY) wrote, "Listen more to the employees and not only to the executive team."
And another Travelocity employee (Wilkes Barre, PA) echoes that sentiment and says, "Take more of an active role in your employees."