Three lessons the tourism industry can learn from 2017

4th Jan 2018

According to Jo Causon, CEO of The Institute of Customer Service, “news of Monarch Airlines’ collapse last year proves yet again the challenges of working in a highly competitive industry and the need to create sustainable differentiation to ensure standout in a crowded market.”

Indeed, The Institute’s own research has shown a growing trend for customers to place emphasis on service over price, with over a quarter of people now favouring excellent service (28%), even if it means paying more, compared with just 15% who always want the cheapest deal.

Causon adds: “The travel industry is hugely important to the UK economy, and with Ryanair’s recent troubles, UK consumers will be even more likely to make decisions based on trust and reputation, and businesses need to take note of this.”

An apology can make all the difference

Whatever its nature, it is a truism of business that any organisation can make a mistake – the significance is in how they respond. In terms of the customer, it is crucial to focus on rebuilding trust, loyalty and recommendation.

In the case of Ryanair’s mass flight cancellation last year, the airline demonstrated openness, gave notice and, above all, was apologetic.

These are key lessons that any organisation in the tourism sector can learn from. As an industry it is worth some £106 billion and it supports 2.6 million jobs. A buoyant tourism sector supports the national economy in an important way and can create a ripple effect that helps drive GDP up.

Maintain fantastic service

To maximise the opportunity, providing an excellent customer experience will be key. The industry is in a good position to do just that, as the UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI) regularly sees the tourism sector performing highly. In the latest Index, it was the third highest-ranking sector with a score of 80.7 (out of 100) – that’s 2.5 points above the UK average.

The Institute’s research also suggests that the tourism industry in the UK has a service edge on its European counterparts. Our inaugural European Customer Satisfaction Index found that the UK topped the rankings in tourism – indeed, the UK was first in all but two sectors surveyed.

Customers are willing to pay more for a better experience

It is true that many tourists this year, be they British or from overseas, will be watching how much they spend. However, research also shows that the majority of people are prepared to pay more for a better holiday experience. Around 45 million Brits took a holiday last year and The Institute’s research found that 57% of people said they would be prepared to spend additional sums for guaranteed levels of customer service.

Quite simply, holidays are important to us – particularly when times generally are quite tough – so that most of us will spend extra to ensure they live up to our hopes. The Institute calculated that the tourist industry could earn an extra £3.6 billion if it can deliver outstanding levels of service: something that is worth fighting for.

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