Methodology: How We Conduct the World’s Best Awards (2016)
A survey developed by the editors of Travel + Leisure, in association with digital marketing firm Wylei, was made available at tlworldsbest.com from November 2, 2015 to February 29, 2016. Readers were invited to participate through Travel + Leisure magazine, T+L tablet editions, newsletters, social media, and travelandleisure.com. Wylei maintained, monitored, and kept the survey website secure, and also collected and tabulated the responses. To protect the integrity of the data, after the survey closed, Travel + Leisure and Wylei screened the responses to identify fraudulent votes, which were eliminated from the final tallies.
Respondents were asked to rate airlines, airports, car-rental agencies, cities, cruise ships, destination spas, hotels, hotel brands, islands, tour operators, and safari outfitters on a number of characteristics (see below). For each characteristic, respondents could choose a rating of excellent, above average, average, below average, or poor. The final scores are indexed averages of these responses. In most categories, respondents could also rate optional characteristics; these ratings are not included in the overall scores.
Hotels were categorized as City or Resort based on their locations, not on the features of any individual property. For resort hotels, the U.S. was divided into seven regions: California, Florida, Hawaii, Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin), Northeast (Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, D.C.), South (Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia), and West (Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming).
For the cruise category, respondents were asked to rate individual ships; the results were combined to generate scores for cruise lines in different categories. The categories are: river cruise lines, mega-ship ocean cruise lines (capacity of 2,200 passengers or more), large-ship ocean cruise lines (600 to 2,199 passengers), midsize-ship ocean cruise lines (250 to 599 passengers), and small-ship ocean cruise lines (249 or fewer passengers). Some cruise lines may appear in multiple categories depending on the makeup of their fleet.
A minimum number of responses was necessary for a candidate to be eligible for inclusion in the World’s Best Awards rankings. Some companies were eligible to be rated in multiple categories; they were scored independently for each category.
Categories and Characteristics
Airlines: Cabin comfort, in-flight service, customer service, value.
Airports: Access, check-in/security, restaurants/bars, shopping, design.
Car-rental agencies: Vehicle selection, vehicle availability, car-rental location, service, value.
Cities: Sights/landmarks, culture, food, friendliness, shopping, value.
Cruise ships: Cabins/facilities, food, service, itineraries/destinations, excursions/activities, value.
Destination spas: Accommodations/facilities, treatments, service, food, value.
Hotels: Rooms/facilities, location, service, food, value.
Hotel brands: Locations, rooms/facilities, food, service, value.
Islands: Natural attractions/beaches, activities/sights, restaurants/food, people/friendliness, value.
Tour operators and safari outfitters: Staff/guides, itineraries/destinations, activities, accommodations, food, value.