Monday, August 10, 2015

Beyond Expectations

I haven't yet seen the new Vacation movie with Ed H
elms, but it is high on my list this summer.  Whether the new movie is a hit or not, I don't think it could ever surpass the awesomeness of the original version with Chevy Chase.  The story of Clark Griswold's ill-fated quest to take his family on the vacation of a lifetime is a classic.  It is so funny because just about everyone can relate some family vacation from their lives to the plight of Clark W. Griswold.  We all want our vacations to turn out perfectly, but they rarely ever do.

Travel really is one of the most emotional purchases that people ever make.  Think about it.  The expectations to create a perfect experience are so high.  You are often travelling with friends or family, so there is added pressure to create a memorable experience for everyone.  Travel requires you to spend two of your most precious commodities, money and vacation time.  You really have to make your vacations count because they don't come around that often.  You are emotionally invested in this purchase before you even know where you are going!

Travel and tourism business aren't making it any easier on travelers either.  Resorts, hotels, and travel agents create fabulous websites that portray the absolute best possible experience that anyone could ever have.  The sun is shining.  The sky is blue.  There are no crowds, and everyone is smiling.  Sure, these conditions do exist, from time-to-time, but we all know that plenty of "average" days (or worse) occur each month too.  Marketing has set the expectation, and the customer has invested emotionally.  This seems like a situation set up for disappointment.

It is not realistic to think that marketers will stop promoting the best image of their destinations.  Knowing this, and knowing that many customers will experience less than perfect conditions mean that tourism businesses must put a great effort into creating experiences beyond expectations for their guests.  This is different from exceeding expectations.  After all, the marketing has already set the expectation of perfect conditions.  You cannot exceed perfect.  Not possible.  But you can give the customer something unexpected; beyond expectations.

Tourism companies must make it their priority to build relationships with their customers and to connect with them emotionally.  We know that travel is an emotional purchase, so let's provide the emotion.  Let's treat our clients like friends and family, and give them a real reason to remember their visit.  The human connections that people make during their travels have a profound effect on their level of enjoyment and satisfaction.  One of the best ways to encourage customer loyalty is to genuinely welcome guests and make them part of your community.  When a guest feels like they belong, they become invested in the community, and will want to visit again and again.

Travellers want to make emotional connections to the places they visit.  It is our job to encourage that connection by welcoming, accepting, and including them in our communities.