One tool to understand your visitors’ characteristics, behaviour, motivations, and satisfaction with their experience as well as evaluate volume and expenditure of your tourists in your destination: the visitor satisfaction survey.

Monitoring information is a pre-requisite for sustainable destination management. Amongst many other things, gathering accurate visitor data, will enable you to:

1. Understand what makes your destination attractive and make informed choices to optimise your destination’s potential.

Palau, a wonderful Pacific Island well-known for its unique geographical features and diverse fauna and flora, was looking to better understand existing visitors to the country to make strategic and well-informed decisions about developing the tourism sector to drive national economic growth whilst limiting environmental impact. Acorn Tourism was commissioned by the Belau Tourism Association to develop and conduct a comprehensive visitor exit survey. The questionnaire was put onto electronic tablets and filled in through face-to-face interviews by visitors intercepted at the international airport. This data collection process can be quite expensive but is also very effective at collecting a large number of responses annually. The sample of data collected was also large enough to provide significant information related to each market segment and adjust promotional and marketing strategies accordingly. 

2.Understand visitors’ behaviours and patterns to identify ‘hotspots’, areas of (dis)interests in your destination, and manage them more sustainably.

The Mid-Kent Downs were able to identify their destination’s strengths and key target market through a set of visitor surveys. There was a need to identify the area’s visitor potential and development needs, more specifically focused on sustainable tourism development potential.

The visitor surveys developed and conducted by Acorn Tourism revealed that awareness of the Mid-Kent Downs as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and of local attractions was quite low. Recommendations to increase sign posting throughout the destination as well as increasing sharing information (both printed and on the web) were made to increase the profile of the destination.
The destination strengths identified through the analysis of the survey made it a prime destination for both casual and serious cycling and hiking visitors as well as touring visitors (those that enjoy visiting several destinations and attractions during their trip).

3.Identify a return on investment from visitor expenditure and guide future decision making

Understanding how much money visitors spend in your destination and where they spend it can be very valuable information. It can help with tourism development strategies, policies and overall gaining a better understanding of visitor behaviour in the destination.

Following a visitor survey conducted by Acorn Tourism, Visit Lincoln gained valuable insights on the differences in visitor expenditures for overnight visitors and day-visitors. Overnight visitors staying in serviced accommodations stayed on average a little less than 4 days in the destination, and most of their expenditure was on accommodation, with an average of only £28 spent on other items per day. On average, day visitors stayed in the destination 8 hours, which included a major meal - the food and drink sector was the focus of expenditure for these visitors. This data enabled the destination to calculate a return on investment and guide future investment decisions.

The City of London also regularly conducts visitor surveys, developed by Acorn Tourism, to monitor, amongst other things, visitor expenditure and return of investment in the city of London, but also identify the impact that their visitor information centre may have on visitor behaviour and expenditure in other areas of London.

Visitor surveys are most effective when conducted regularly and when the questionnaires are NOT regularly changed, to allow for year-on-year comparison. Identifying changes in trends, behaviours and expenditures by your destination’s visitors can provide you with valuable insights to guide decision making, tourism development and marketing strategies. To comply with some of the highest social and environmental standards on the market, such as the Global Sustainable Tourism Council criteria for sustainable tourism, the results of the survey should be made public, and actions should be taken in response to these results.

Are you looking to implement a visitor survey? Or maybe you need to update the template you are currently using to improve the quality of data you are gathering? Check out the Visitors Satisfaction Survey Template we have developed.

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