Updated: Jun 28
Today is Customer Experience Day - did you even know there is a day to stop and celebrate the excellence you strive for in enhancing the customer experience within your company and with your customers. We do, because our focus on the visitor experience in tourism keeps us researching, learning, teaching, and coaching.
When I look back at the thousands of tourism businesses - private and not for profit - plus government entities with a mandate for tourism that we have trained, I have to smile. In 2000 I was introduced to the Experience Economy, a new way of thinking thanks to the conceptual talents on Joe Pine and James Gilmore. A couple of years later I participated in their training program and since then, with industry and academe, the importance of the customer experience has been core to how the Tourism Cafe approaches tourism training and destination development.
We have learned so much over the past two decades but here are a few biggies that we learned over early two decades:
1. A focus on the customer experience is not a trend, it is a choice you need to make for your business.
2. Creating a visitor-centric culture within tourism requires effort and embracing new ways of thinking. We have developed our industry on a service culture which is terrific; it is the foundation for our industry Taking our potential to the next level to focus on the entire customer journey requires different skills, a different way of thinking.
3. Tourism operators that embrace the visitor experience, as a core way of doing business, are seeming some amazing results that go beyond the financial bottom line. We look at the annual awards across our country and smile with pride when we see companies who have participated in our training winning awards. It's even more rewarding when we interview them and learn about the trigger moment when they understood the potential.
4. Destination management organizations are beginning to look holistically at the 'experience' of their region and how to use this as a differentiator to raise the bar for stakeholders and travellers.
5.There are different business development considerations before, during and after a person travels, opportunities to impact the visitor experience directly and indirectly. The role of partnerships is key.
6. Addressing the emotional and physical connections throughout all touchpoints of a travellers journey is imperative. The realities of social media place a huge focus on the online experience, which is a vital component. However, all the marketing in the world won't increase your bottom line if it doesn't generate a sale, respond to today's travellers needs and begin to cultivate tomorrow's customer base. Designing memorable visitor experiences that requires we start with different questions:
i. How can we create a memorable experience for our guests?
ii. What memories do we want them to take away? Share via social media?
iii. Who can we partner with that will enhance the experience, increase the authenticity and emotional connections?
iv. What stories can we share that will connect travellers uniquely to our business, our town, our stories?
v. How can we weave 'activities' into a seamless experience that brings a traveller into our world and has them leave with a greater appreciation of the people and places they are visiting?
vi. How can we set the stage for simple, engaging interactions that allow time to personalize the experience while ensuring operational efficiencies?
vii. What is the role of technology to complement the visitor experience?
viii. What new measures of success are needed to validate and justify the investing in the customer experience, the visitor experience?
As we celebrate Customer Experience Day, our team at the Tourism Cafe is proud to have been part of this journey over the past two decades as operators and educators.