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Case study: researching experiences in tourism

11. April 2016

Case study: researching experiences in tourism

The Upper Austrian Tourist Board is the only provincial tourism organization in Austria which has installed a Service Designer within its enterprise.

As part of its strategic work, the Tourist Board has used the ExperienceFellow app for two different projects: to evaluate the winter sports product in Dachstein Salzkammergut and to improve the touristic experience at the Danube cycle path.

“We use the discipline to create tourism services and products together with customers and focus on the customer’s perspective. This helps us gain a better understanding of the needs of our guests and develop better products together with local partners”

Andreas Winkelhofer, CEO of the Upper Austrian Tourist Board

Dachstein Salzkammergut

Project description

Dachstein Salzkammergut region launched the “Service Safari” project with the aim to find out which are the essential elements of the winter sports product. The project aimed at creating holistic customer journeys straight from the pre-service period (information gathering and booking) through the service period (stay within the destination) and the post-service period (once back home).

Project setup

Guests were invited through the local tourist board, or directly in the hotel, to participate and share their experience during their stay. Guests needed a good reason to participate in a project as it can be quite some work documenting your holiday experience on the smartphone. Therefore it is very important to choose a good incentive in order to get participants. Every participant was therefore offered a free cable-car ticket.

invitation to research project
Invitation
mobile ethnography instructions
Instruction leaflet

Challenges

While the project team in the Dachstein Salzkammergut region started off with defining their customers by creating personas, they soon had to realize that it was hard to get hold of these people in reality. This was due to the fact that hotel owners were very busy during the season and did not have the time to acquire potential participants.

Results and benefits

As for the Dachstein Salzkammergut project, it was interesting to see within which radius guests moved during their holiday. The GPS-function enabled the project team to visualize the customer journeys on a map to see how far outside the main destination they reach.

This georeferencing function of ExperienceFellow showed that guests move frequently outside of the tourist board’s region which makes it necessary to cooperate with frontier regions of other provinces.

Furthermore guest reported on wrong expectations they had due to reading a brochure of the region with an editorial mistake. Thanks to these attentive guests the tourist board was able to detect the error and reprint the brochure with the right information in order to prevent further negative customer experiences.

One central element of guests in the Dachstein Salzkammergut region was the culinary aspect whether documenting food at the ski hut or groceries bought for preparing dinner.

“It is interesting to see of which elements their holiday was composed of, get detailed insights into the guest’s personal journeys and detect what is really important for them”

Sylvia Prunthaller, Service Designer at the Upper Austrian Tourist Board

Danube cycle path

Project description

The project aimed at improving the touristic offer of the Danube cycle path. Guests who booked a cycling holiday at Danube cycling track were invited to participate in the project.

Project setup

As an incentive guests were offered the rental bike for freeplus they could use a brand new tablet for the documentation of their experience. A service hotline was installed and participants could get in contact with the project team Monday to Sunday from 9am to 7pm in case they had questions or problems.

Challenges

The longer the holiday lasts, the more time participants have to create touchpoints. This was the case especially for participants at the Danube cycle path who spent one week cycling along the Austrian part of the river. Up to 25 touchpoints per participant were collected.

This gives a very good insight into the importance of single aspects of the holiday experience, their importance and the most valuable moments for the participants. In order to clarify and better understand the customer’s experience, the project team decided to also meet the guests in person.

“It was important to meet them personally to get the most out of our project. We invited them for dinner during their one week cycling tour at the Danube to discuss their experience and better understand their touchpoint documentation“

Sylvia Prunthaller, Service Designer at the Upper Austrian Tourist Board

Guests appreciated the personal meeting with the project team. Interesting new topics emerged through the group discussion and supplied the project team with even more ideas for improving their touristic product.

Results and benefits

The main outcome for the project team at the Danube cycle path was to become part of the world of images of participants as well as their needs and wants. It was interesting to see what was really important for an enriching holiday, which perspective guests took and which were their most valued moments.

“The participating guests have experienced their holiday a lot more intensely with ExperienceFellow“ 

Sylvia Prunthaller

While guests appreciated the good signage on the cycle path, the project team found out that guests have difficulties interpreting distances. How long do I take for 30 km? Can I still visit the museum or will I miss the fixed pick-up time at the end of the day?

High engagement of the whole team

The project team is currently working on a solution for this customer problem in order to allow guests to fully take advantage of their daily journey along Danube.

Conclusion

The mobile ethnography study helped the organizations to better understand their guests and needs in order to work on the improvement of their touristic product. The results of both projects were discussed with local stakeholders and helped to improve the product development within the destination.

Customer journey export from ExperienceFellow
Customer journey export from ExperienceFellow

Fact box Dachstein Salzkammergut

Aim of the project
defining the winter sports product
Number of participants
30
Number of collected customer journeys
15
Number of collected touchpoints
12 on average, range from 1-42 per participant
Project duration
February to March 2015
Recruitment
through local tourist board or directly in hotels
Incentive
free cable car ticket

Fact box Danube cycle path

Aim of the project
improving a touristic project with 30+ years of history
Number of participants
20
Number of collected customer journeys
10
Number of collected touchpoints
14 on average, range from 5-25 per participant
Project duration
June to September 2015
Recruitment
Guests who booked a cycle holiday along the Danube
Incentive
free tablet
free rental bike for one week
dinner invitation

Katharina takes care of marketing and communications at More than Metrics. With her background in business and psychology she loves both logical as well as empathic thinking.
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