Customer Experience vs Customer Expectation

Gary Howes

May 2, 2017

Unrealistic expectations can ruin travel experiences. Customer Experience vs Customer Expectation is a big barrier in the travel and hospitality sector. Gary Howes, Business Development Manager at Maru/edr takes a look at the subject following the ABTA conference on Customer Insight in the Travel Industry.

I had the pleasure of attending the ABTA conference on Customer Insight in the Travel industry last week.  One of the strongest themes from the day was the importance of understanding a customer’s expectations at each stage of their journey. People talked about understanding which touch points are critical in influencing the perception of the total experience and then, where possible, how to exceed those expectations.

It is often said that customers have unrealistic expectations when it comes to travel – and we have all heard a number of anecdotal stories on that subject. A brilliant example of this is the story of the woman who booked a Celebrity Cruise and asked for a full refund because she didn’t see any celebrities on board.

In reality, however, when guests are provided with the relevant information then they generally have realistic expectations.  Take the example below.

Clearly, the Staybridge Suites in Vauxhall is doing an amazing job to be ranked as the 26th best hotel in London and higher than the Ritz based on the reviews.   Of course the Ritz is the more prominent hotel, it’s extremely luxurious and a dream destination (and ranked 27th) but what the Staybridge Suites are doing is exceeding their guest’s expectations so of course, they are strongly recommended.  But how are they doing it? I actually read the reviews and the latest ten all called out the friendliness, helpfulness, and knowledge of the staff.

Here at Maru/edr, we have been measuring the customer’s experience and feedback against their expectations for some time and for a range of organisations and we know from experience that your staff often have the biggest impact on a guest’s perception.  In working with supermarkets we have found this can be as simple as how friendly and helpful the check out staff are when you leave (and how a simple apology for a queue will negate the negative perception of having had to wait)

Staff can make the difference

Identifying pain points not only helps customer (and employee) satisfaction though – it also improves the company bottom line. Knowing that your employees can rescue even the most frustrating customer experiences is beneficial to your business and your brand.

Gary Howes is Business Development Manager at Maru/edr specialising in travel and hospitality. Contact Gary directly on to continue the discussion or connect with him on LinkedIn.