Beyond the aforementioned general performance indicators, it may be convenient to track performance of the evolution of specific competitiveness programs such as Quality certification for local businesses, hospitality campaigns, service quality competitions, etc.
Such tracking may be carried out through many methods:
- Mystery tourist system, consisting of periodical service evaluation by outsourced professionals pretending to be casual tourists.
- Survey on customer satisfaction in the accommodation facilities for the Quality certification assessment.
- Survey on customer satisfaction and assessment in the departure halls of airports or train stations.
- Tracking of congestion and “early sold out” services through systematic observation, to identify bottlenecks and unsatisfied demand for critical services.
Do you envision other specific programs to be monitored or researched upon? Do you think of other appropriate research methods?
As an essential tool for empowering tourists to contribute and participate in the collaborative marketing system, the Mobile Apps 3.0 would enable tourists to write reviews and rate immediately after the experience, vote and participate in content creation contests, make bookings and search for information about the destination.
The Mobile App 3.0 would not only be a supporting tool for the communication between the tourist and the destination, but also a tool to encourage tourists to become co-creators of the destination experience and to engage them in the mission accomplishment. Other functions of the Mobile App could be augmented reality features, geo-localization, video & photo uploading, map download, nearby deal pop-up service, etc.
This is to be developed for DMOs only, to take profit of the investment being supported by many stakeholders, and to offer the tourist a comprehensive service.
What kind of obstacles do you envision to make the Mobile Apps 3.0 an effective tool?
Finally, a third set of research goals are those related to customer ratings and reviews, usually obtained through social media tools or specific portals such as Tripadvisor. This is basically another channel to obtain a mix of quantitative (ratings) and qualitative (reviews) information to complement the other sources, taking into account that the customer feedback is voluntary and hence the data cannot be considered statistically representative. Many research goals may be envisioned in this section:
- Detailed ratings on specific accommodation services, restaurants, activities, etc.
- Detailed ratings on general issues about the destination such as feeling of locals’ hospitality, cleanliness, availability of good information, transport services, etc.
- Reviews commenting about the tourists experience in accommodations, restaurants, activities, etc.
- Reviews and discussions commenting about the tourists experience and impression on general issues that they consider especially relevant about the destination.
Furthermore, as mentioned in the previous section, social media may be a good source of candidates for the qualitative research. By analyzing the reviews, proactive and creative tourists may be identified, and they are also likely to enjoy the chance of giving their opinions and ideas about the destination needs and opportunities for improvement.
Mobile apps may also be designed to establish a direct relationship with the tourist, incentivizing these to give feedback (reviews and ratings) on many aspects of the destination. The potential of mobile apps for obtaining information from the tourists is especially interesting, thanks to the capacity to convey such feedback on-site right after the experience when it is still fresh in their minds.
Marketing 3.0 intends to engage tourists and other stakeholders in the social networks to obtain their collaboration in co-creating experiences, stories and marketing contents, but also to control the brand to keep its activities aligned with the mission and to become brand ambassadors. Creative tourists are expected to be keen on providing ideas and critical opinion on all issues related with the destination’s management and development. Therefore, destinations developing towards a tourism 3.0 model are likely to attract many of these creative tourists and have plenty of participation at no cost in the monitoring activities.
Up to what extend do you think that social media reviews and ratings should be considered as representative of the tourists’ satisfaction?
With regard to the new approach intending to establish a closer relationship with tourists, there could be many possible kinds of research goals:
- Tourists’ needs, problems, and concerns in view of identifying insecurities and discomforts to be addressed through improvement or development of new services and facilities.
- Tourists’ motivations and aspirations to sense the convenience of developing new products or even revamping the destination model towards a 3.0 model to satisfy the aim for mission driven tourism activities.
- Tourists’ opinions to pre-test ideas on new products or marketing initiatives, to ensure their viability and adequate development.
In this point, research should be conducted on the issues that concern the creative society, to better orientate on defining missions that engage the human spirit of most stakeholders. The researched issues are to be chosen by the Destination Management Organization (DMO) with room for participation of local private stakeholders, as with the quantitative surveys. These research goals are to be attained through qualitative methods, such as in-depth interviews and focus groups to get a deeper insight on the researched issues. The access to the sample is here a bit more complicated than in other research projects. Hereby are envisioned some ways to identify the desired sample representatives, bearing in mind that these have to be selected according to specific criteria related to the research goals in every case:
- In the quantitative surveys, through which the pollsters know their sociological and motivational profile
- In social media discussions about the destination and topics related to the research goals
- In the accommodation, in collaboration with the supplier
- On-site when practicing activities related to the research goals
To successfully carry out this task it is necessary to clearly define the target profiles and get the cooperation of the local service suppliers such as accommodation and activity suppliers, which ultimately also benefit from such research. Once identified suitable candidates, these should be invited to participate in a meeting with an interviewer or a focus group, in exchange for a voucher for some of the destination’s services.
The outcomes of the qualitative research are to provide insights and ideas which serve as a basis for further research with quantitative methods.
Would you consider any other goal when researching for tourists insights?
The main objectives when tracking the tourism activity in local destinations are to monitor:
- Evolution of the accommodation offer by type and location
- Demand seasonality by type and location of the accommodation
- Evaluate the satisfaction of local businesses with the tourism activity
- Characterize types of demand, clustering them according to their geographical origin, length of stay, type of services used, seasonality, motivations, trip organization, type of group, activities and places visited, loyalty to the destination and expenditure.
- Satisfaction, intention to recommend, and intention to repeat visit.
These are to be attained through quantitative research methods, resulting in a periodical series of statistical data to be delivered throughout the local and regional industry stakeholders’ network. Hereby it is important to note that these quantitative surveys may work as omnibus surveys, in which business owners may pay for introducing questions related to their business’ information needs.
These data is to be obtained through two different quantitative methods:
- For data on occupancy rates, occupancy satisfaction, origin of demand and length of stay, telephone based survey to the accommodation owners has to be carried out, right after every period of two weeks. This should use a sample representing 20% of the total capacity, to obtain a 98.5% of reliability. The occupancy rate is a weighted average for the number of available beds calculated from the answers of each establishment in the sample.
- For data on characteristics of demand, satisfaction and intention to recommend, an on-site survey has to be carried out either in the tourist areas or in the hotel lobbies. This is designed in many stages: firstly, areas are stratified to ensure that samples are taken from each area. Secondly, primary sample units (towns) with significant tourist accommodation capacity are selected. Then, intermediate units (establishments) are sampled randomly from clusters. Finally, individual units (tourists) are selected in a systematic random way from within each establishment.
The results may be delivered through both web-based updates every two weeks and an Annual Report to be delivered to all regional stakeholders.
Would you consider any other research objective to be monitored?
Beyond researching the outbound markets in search for trends and opportunities, it is also necessary to keep track of the current activity within the destination, as of a continuous internal diagnosis of the local industry performance. Such monitoring system also intends to open a new communication channel with tourists, to complement the information obtained from the trade professionals in the outbound markets.
Even if the primary goals of monitoring systems are to obtain statistical data for the key performance indicators and to observe the evolution of demand characterization through quantitative methods, the new approach hereby proposed intends to expand the scope of the monitoring system to establish a closer and more personalized relationship between the destination and the tourists, especially with the ones who are more creative and socially active, matching with the profile of the Tourists 3.0.
Do you think that destinations usually obtain enough intelligence from the visiting tourists?
Especially critical in the initial development phases of the MI unit, the evaluation of the obtained results is necessary both to justify the expenses and investments as well as for the improvement process of the MI practice.
The evaluation may be carried out through a series of qualitative and quantitative indicators:
- Number of projects executed on time (Quantitative)
- User satisfaction (Qualitative & Quantitative)
- Contribution of the MI to the directors decisions (Qualitative)
- Increase of the MI queries by the directors and other users (Quantitative)
- Result of the projects (Qualitative)
- Increase in the company’s results (Quantitative)
- Profits/Expenses ratio (Quantitative)
- Reduction of the future organization costs (Quantitative)
The evaluation of the MI’s economic impact may be carried out by the following steps:
- Specification of the benefits and favorable results (p.e.: entry in a new market)
- Measurement: transformation of the intangible values of the MI and tangible representation (new tour operators programming the destination, new direct flights)
- Accounting: assigning an economic value (new revenue and profits)
Even if there may be difficulties in measuring or evaluating the MI results, not doing it may lead to perceiving the MI unit as a cost more than a profitable practice.
Would you consider any other KPI when assessing MI results?
In the implementation process of a market intelligence system, there are some key success factors that should not be overlooked:
- The support of the direction in the definition of objectives, functions and resource assignment, and the participation of all the departments whose collaboration is needed.
- Training of the potential collaborators and users about the utility and the scope of the MI to foster their capacity of bringing value and a collaborative attitude.
- Design of an incentive system to stimulate the contribution of the collaboration of the people and departments whose inputs are needed: definition of needs, product definition and results feedback.
- Fostering informal relationships to achieve the best possible understanding between the MI and several collaborative departments and users.
- Adequate structure, coordination and delivery process.
- Starting with modest objectives and obtaining visible results.
Would you consider any other key success factors?
The implementation of a MI system in an organization should be carried out in 4 stages:
Preparation: selecting a responsible for leading the MI unit, availability of the necessary technological tools and presentation to the collaborators and users.
Launch: pilot project to test and demonstrate how the system works to the users and collaborators, ad-hoc queries and informal feedback.
Consolidation: setting a MI product portfolio, application of a consistent MI analytical scheme, well informed and exigent users, and formal evaluation process.
Extension: integration of the strategic and tactic intelligence; MI culture integrated in the organization; MI based on dialogue.
The MI unit may have a specific department or be integrated in the marketing or strategy department. It may count with external consultants but most inputs should come from the local marketing units in the outbound markets.
The MI cycle has 5 phases, for which there is a set of necessary competences:
Obtaining MI queries:
- Identification of decision makers and their needs of information
- Interview, communication and presentation skills
- Understanding of people and the decision maker’s orientation
- Knowledge of the organizational structure and corporate culture
- Needs detection and processing through the system
- Knowing primary and secondary sources
- Knowing methods to access the sources
- Manage the sources
- Knowing how to guarantee the reliability of the sources
- Identifying biases in the information
- Capacity for assessing assumptions
- Knowing the ethics principles in the information capturing
Analyzing and summarizing information:
- Recognition of the interaction between the information capture and its analysis
- Use of inductive and deductive reasoning
- Knowledge of the basic analytical models
- Knowledge of the reason why and the adequate moment to use each analytical model
- Recognition of information gaps
Communicating the intelligence:
- Presentation skills.
- Empathy and advising skills.
- Organization and presentation of the findings according to the receiver characteristics.
- Graduation of the intelligence delivery.
Intelligence management, feedback and results evaluation:
- Definition of the intelligence function.
- Explanation of the role of the MI and the intelligence cycle.
- Knowledge of the MI unit models, its structure, organization and resources.
- Knowledge of MI evaluation techniques.
- Capacity of creating a MI culture within the organization.
Would you consider any other step in the implementation process or another necessary competence?
Apart from improving the conventional market reports, the market intelligence allows to obtain the following kinds of outputs:
- Internal reports to support strategic and operational planning.
- Segment reports for many markets.
- Newsletter about the evolution of the outbound markets.
- Benchmarking and new trends reports.
- Qualified database with detailed profiles of tour operators and other potential partners
- Qualified database of media, freelance journalists, internet portals, forums, blogs, social networks, segmented by product.
- Ad-hoc reports.
The MI will be used by staff at all levels, from the Managing director to the Product Managers. Moreover, considering that the MI system is to benefit all the regional tourism sector, the outputs may also be delivered to the operators and local tourist boards.
One of the key success factors of a MI system is the rapidness in the delivery of the outputs, as an essential part of the MI value stays in having the intelligence data before your competitors. For that purpose, the system should provide outputs of small dimension (news, articles, summaries) and fast production that allow its fast delivery process to the users.
For the exchange of information and its distribution to the users, there should be a technological platform like an intranet from which the users could download the MI reports.
Do you envision any other kind of research output or format?