Fifteen awards and no satisfaction

By | Category: Travel rumblings

Visit England has announced that it has launched a new Awards for Excellence format. Why? Because, it says, it is to “reflect innovations across England’s tourism industry as it marks 30 years of the Awards.”

cartoon of angry suitcase
Why no customer service or satisfaction award? © Dan Sperrin

On feature that it will include in the future is to alter the way that the awards are judged. Local tourist areas (eighteen in all) have their awards and the winners graduate to the England awards. In the past if you haven’t had an awards scheme in your area you weren’t able to enter. That has changed for Visit England will support destinations that do not currently hold local competitions to launch Awards of their own, giving greater coverage across England. 

There are three new awards. They are 2019-20 include ‘Experience of the Year’, ‘International Tourism Award’ and ‘New Tourism Business Award.’ These join the others making fifteen in all.

The awards are meant to reward quality, innovation and best practice across the country’s tourism industry. But if you look at the fifteen there is one glaring omission. There is not a single award for customer satisfaction or service.

It seems that innovation and excellence does not include customer satisfaction yet many holidaymakers and visitors would tell you that customer service is the one reason why people return to the same place or even recommend it. Good service leads to satisfaction, not the same as loyalty I grant you, but nonetheless important to reinforcing loyalty.

Visit England might argue that all the awards have an element of customer inherent because otherwise how would organisations and companies operate successfully.

Fifty years ago market research companies made the bulk of their money buy surveying what people thought. In the 1990’s onwards they began to see more money from operating customer satisfaction studies. These were a method of what liked or didn’t like or a way of measuring the degree to which people agreed or disagreed with comments set by the research house.

Today, the University of Michigan operates a significant project called the American Customer Satisfaction Index. The author of that project – Claes Fornell – has demonstrated that customer satisfaction can influence share price movements of quoted companies. Net promotor scores, beloved of chief executives in large companies, are based on satisfaction and what holidaymaker has not completed a holiday satisfaction form?

Yet Visit England still has not found it necessary to introduce an award for customer satisfaction despite many other tourism bodies operating such an award.

The full list of awards will be

1. B&B and Guest House of the Year
2. Small Hotel of the Year
3. Large Hotel of the Year
4. Camping, Glamping and Holiday Park of the Year
5. Self-Catering Accommodation of the Year
6. Small Visitor Attraction of the Year
7. Large Visitor Attraction of the Year
8. Pub of the Year
9. Experience of the Year
10. New Tourism Business Award
11. Taste of England Award
12. Accessible and Inclusive Tourism Award
13. Business Events Venue of the Year
14. Ethical, Responsible and Sustainable Tourism Award
15. International Tourism Award

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