World's Best Awards: 2015 Survey Methodology

How We Conduct The World’s Best Awards

A questionnaire developed by the editors of Travel + Leisure, in association with Wylei, was made available to Travel + Leisure readers at from November 3, 2014, to March 2, 2015. Readers were invited to participate through Travel + Leisure magazine (December, January, February and March issues), T+L tablet editions, newsletters, social media, and online at To protect the integrity of the data, after March 2, 2015, respondents were screened by Travel + Leisure and responses from any identified travel-industry professionals who completed the survey were eliminated from the final tally. The survey website,, was maintained, monitored, and kept secure by Wylei, which collected and tabulated the responses and kept them confidential.

The scores are indexed averages of responses concerning applicable characteristics. Respondents were asked to rate airlines on four characteristics; hotels, hotel brands, islands, airports, car-rental agencies and destination spas on five characteristics; and cities, cruise ships, tour operators, and safari outfitters on six characteristics (see below). In most categories, respondents could also rate additional optional characteristics; these ratings were not included in the final score. For each characteristic, respondents were asked to rate a candidate on a five-point scale of excellent, above average, average, below average and poor. Required component ratings were then averaged, creating an overall score. For the cruise category, respondents were asked to rate individual ships, and scores were rolled up into four categories and organized by type of cruise and ship size. There is one category for river cruises (any capacity), and three categories for ocean cruises: mega-ship cruise lines (capacity of 2,200 passengers or more), large-ship cruise lines (capacity between 600 to 2,199 passengers) and small-ship cruise lines (capacity of fewer than 600 passengers). Some cruise lines may appear in multiple categories depending on the fleet of ships they own.

A minimum number of responses was necessary for a candidate to be eligible for inclusion in the World’s Best Awards listings. Some companies were eligible to be rated in multiple categories, including cruise lines, tour operators, and safari outfitters. In all cases, companies and properties have different scores for each category.

These were the categories and characteristics:

Airlines: Cabin comfort, in-flight service, customer service, value. Optional: for food, for loyalty programs.

Airports: Location/access, check-in/security, restaurants/bars, shopping, design. Optional: for business, for families.

Car-rental agencies: Vehicle selection, vehicle availability, car-rental location, service, value.

Cities: Sights/landmarks, culture/arts, restaurants/food, people/friendliness, shopping, value. Optional: for romance, for bars.

Cruise ships: Cabins/facilities, restaurants/food, service, itineraries/destinations, excursions/activities, value. Optional: for families, bars/nightlife.

Destination spas: Accommodations/facilities, treatments, service, food, value. Optional: for romance.

Hotels: Rooms/facilities, location, service, restaurants/food, value. Optional: for business, for families, for romance, bars/nightlife, design.

Hotel brands: Locations, rooms/facilities, restaurants/bars, service, value. Optional: for business, for families, for romance, bars/nightlife, design.

Islands: Natural attractions/beaches, activities/sights, restaurants/food, people/friendliness, value. Optional: for romance.

Tour operators and safari outfitters: Staff/guides, itineraries/destinations, activities, accommodations, food, value. Optional: for families, conservation/philanthropy.