Travel, Tourism & Hospitality: thoughts on a vibrant sector

Chief Development Officer, Derek Eccleston hosted the first MRS Travel, Tourism and Hospitality conference in a very long time, last week. As leaders in Voice of the Customer programmes for the sector – and as someone who has masterminded the implementation of many of those projects – Derek was ideally placed to share eDigitalResearch’s (edr’s) industry knowledge and lead other travel experts for the day. Here, Derek shares his thoughts and learnings from the day – and why 2016 is an exciting time for travel.

It was a great privilege to lead the recent MRS Travel, Tourism and Hospitality conference. With over 30 speakers sharing the newest and very best approaches and solutions, this was a fantastic and rare opportunity to learn, discuss and get excited about the opportunities across the sector.

While each business faces different and sometimes unique challenges, there were a number of key themes that came across throughout the day.

Don’t underestimate the size of the sector

I was happy to make this point in my opening address.

The UN’s World Tourism Organisation states that 1 in 11 jobs globally can now be linked to the travel industry with tourism accounting for 9% of global GDP. Over 1billion of us are now travelling on an annual basis.

These stats demonstrate the scale and indeed resilience of the sector – despite the undoubted impact of global issues and economic cycles, the industry has shown almost uninterrupted growth since 1950 and is only going one way.

It is all about outcomes

Several papers showcased clever techniques which help deliver a deeper understanding of the customer.

But the real excitement in the room was apparent when brands were demonstrating the actual impact this deeper understanding is having on their business.

  • British Airways made a small but significant change to the upper deck galleys on the A380 following precise insight which resulted in an uplift in satisfaction amongst high value customers
  • Staff at the Wellcome Trust are now able to spend more time concentrating on great experiences following the addition of more toilet signs after staff discussions revealed questions they’re asked the most by guests.
  • EasyJet launched a slick, automated bag drop journey at Gatwick North terminal that has increased efficiency and passenger satisfaction.
  • Etihad Airways are fully competing with Dubai-based competitor Emirates following Etihad’s rebrand reflecting the dynamic evolution of Abu Dhabi rivalling Dubai as a destination.

All of these actions improved customer experience, made a positive impact on the business, and all were grounded on insight produced by successful client-agency partnerships.

Quotes of the Day

Of course, no conference would be complete without some great quotes from key industry figures

“You cannot fatten a pig by weighing it” (measurement gets you nowhere until it is turned into action)

“If you want to change perception, change reality” (in the age of social media there is nowhere to hide, if you want to be seen as better you have to be better)

“If you are facing inward to the organisation your ass is facing the customer” (be customer centric every single day)

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