If you’ve established yourself in the travel industry, it's because client experience matters to you. At RocketRez, it matters to us, too.
The Proof is in the Pudding
Numbers don’t lie. Guest experience is paramount to continued business success. According to HubSpot:
- 66% of customers expect companies to understand and accommodate their needs (Salesforce)
- 82% of customers expect retailers to be able to meet their expectations and accommodate their preferences (Salesforce)
- 1 in 4 customers are willing to spend upwards of 10% more if they know it will bring them high-quality service (Forbes)
- Companies that are focused on customer experience are 60% more profitable (BrightLocal)
If that weren’t enough, in a report released by Forbes, it was determined that 96% of clients claim that strong customer service is a critical motivator in brand loyalty. In that same report, Forbes also stated the number-one reason clients choose another institution is due to poor guest experience.
If you were ever unsure as to whether guest experience makes a tangible business difference, these statistics should put your uncertainty to rest.
Guest Experience, From Start to Finish
Those unfamiliar with the guest experience may think it starts at gate admission and stops when you head home, but that simply isn’t true.
According to a Nuance Enterprise study published by HubSpot, 67% of customers prefer to use self-service research options instead of speaking with a company representative.
The guest experience begins the moment a potential visitor searches for something to do in the place they’re visiting, and carries through to weeks/months after the client has left the venue.
Let’s break down each step of the guest experience process, and why they all matter.
Guest experience starts the moment they start planning their visit to your city, searching for activities to do.
According to a June 2022 study from Arival, direct purchases via offline channels, which primarily reflect direct walk-ups to a ticketing office, dropped from 54% to 36% from 2019 to 2022. It’s important that you have tools and strategies put in place that will increase your visibility and appeal to potential guests.
Buying advertising space is a quick and effective way to improve your chances of being seen by prospective customers, and offering last-minute deals on tours or general admission is a surefire way to increase appeal.
Once clients reach your site, their experience must be straightforward and user-friendly. Ensure clear navigation systems and make customer reviews readily available. Include details on what customers can expect from the experience, and what they should bring to be adequately prepared.
A high-quality guest experience continues throughout the booking process. If booking an outing is a complex and long-winded process, customers are increasingly likely to look elsewhere for the same service.
This is shown in data from Forrester Consulting published in Forbes that companies leading in customer experience outperform their competitors by approximately 80%.
Be sure your booking process has a natural flow and collects all necessary information, but remains simple and easy to understand.
The guest experience comes to a head when they reach your attraction.
When most people think of guest experience, they think of their time on-site. After all, according to a Deloitte study published in 2018, customers tell an average of nine people about a positive experience with a brand, and approximately 16 people about a negative experience.
It is paramount you implement strategies that will make that experience easy, straightforward and accommodating.
Be sure there is clear access to the venue, and be mindful of accessibility issues (wheelchair ramps, handicap parking, braille signage, etc.).
Improving on-site experience also means having staff in place who can facilitate traffic, answer any questions guests may have, and address any concerns that arise.
Furthermore, it’s crucial that you communicate any attraction changes or closures before your guests arrive, so they have accurate expectations.
After the parking lot has cleared and the lights have turned off, remember that the guest experience still isn’t over. The things that happen post-visit are some of the most important for you as a business owner. 73% of consumers say a good guest experience is key in influencing their brand loyalty, according to the PWC's Future of Customer Experience survey.
Implement social media and email campaigns thanking your guests for their business.
Create forms that allow customers to submit feedback on their experience and how it could have been improved. Ask guests to submit a positive review if they were happy with the service.
Maintain open (but not invasive) lines of communication with past clients, promoting current events and offers. Take any feedback you do get and actively work towards implementing solutions.
Your customers will not only feel valued, but it will improve your business optics down the road.
Types of Guest Experiences
When it comes to the type of experiences your guests can have, we’ve broken it down into three categories. First, there is the ‘Aggravating Experience’, which typically yields negative feedback from clients. Second, there is the ‘Seamless Experience’ that garners no complaints and generally positive feedback from customers. Third, there is the ‘Delightful Experience’, which goes above and beyond for customers, generates lasting results and earns patron loyalty.
The Aggravating Experience
Customer X goes to Modern Art Museum.
Upon entry, they wait in a lengthy line to pick up will-call tickets, miss the time window for a special exhibit they were very excited about, cycle through the rest of the attraction with a soured attitude, and lose their appetite by the time they can indulge your food and beverage options.
They leave a one-star review in online forums for future guests to see, and never return to the museum.
The Aggravating Experience should be avoided at all costs. It’s riddled with misinformation, errors in booking and payment, miscommunication and lack of on-site clarity, and tone-deaf post-visit follow-ups.
The Seamless Experience
Customer X goes to Park Place Zoo.
They enter using QR-coded mobile tickets and avoid an expansive line at the box office. They manage to cycle through the park’s attractions with relative ease, freeing up a window in their day to check out an added exhibition they were able to pay for in cash.
They later have a pleasant sit-down lunch in the dining hall. They leave no review, but would not oppose returning to the zoo in the future.
Throughout the Seamless Experience, user processes are straightforward and carried out without issue. Websites are user-friendly and easy to navigate, and on-site resources are effectively implemented. While the Seamless Experience is perfectly acceptable, you can and should aim higher.
The Delightful Experience
Customer X goes to Old York Island.
They board a boat at an accessible public port using a QR-coded ticketing package purchased via a user-friendly website. Their bundle includes a theme park pass, a meal voucher and a gift shop coupon.
The staff is cordial throughout X’s time on the island because of seamless workflow and time saved throughout the customer experience. Customer X receives a friendly follow-up email weeks later offering discounted tickets in exchange for an online review.
The Delightful Experience goes above and beyond expectations. Websites are user-friendly, and booking excursions is simple to follow.
Staff go out of their way to accommodate the varying needs of guests, and clear and effective follow-ups are made with the genuine intent of improving the business. You should always aim for this experience, as it results in honest, long-term patron relationships.
In the tourism, attraction, and service industries, it is very important not to overlook any aspects of the guest experience throughout its four phases (Research, Booking, On-Site, Post-Visit).
Implementing simple but effective strategies when it comes to advertising, web development, booking and payment processes and client follow-up will set your business apart — avoiding the ‘Aggravating Experience’, setting the ‘Seamless Experience’ as an expectation, and putting yourself on a trajectory toward the ‘Delightful Experience’ and long-term success.
Take the RocketRez guest experience quiz to learn more.