Competitive Customer Experience Research

Milford Sound remains a major tourism destination for both international and domestic travellers. Several operators offer more than one type of cruise experience, aimed at different segments of the market. The challenge was to identify and validate how each company performed in terms of capture and customer experience across products and customer segments. Analysis focused on identifying points of difference that could be developed to set a product apart in a competitive market.

The project was conducted in two phases, both designed to minimise the impact on visitor experience. All passengers were intercepted immediately on disembarking their boat providing high quality data as the experience was fresh in the mind.

The first phase used a longer survey, combined with mini in-depth interviews and was conducted over a single long day with interviews both on land and on water, as the overnight cruise returned.  This stage guaranteed a passenger lens in project design, it shaped the questionnaire for the second phase, ensuring that the elements of customer experience essential to the passenger were included.

The second phase interviewed over 700 passengers from 8 cruise options over a 4-day period and multiple sailing times.

There were many tricky elements in data collection: the very short window to intercept passengers between disembarking the cruise and continuing their journey, high volumes of potential participants available for only very short periods of time, ensuring multiple language options were available, coordinating quotas against sailing times, lack of phone and internet signals to complicate communications between the team, a large intercept site with multiple hazards and sandflies.

The sample sizes achieved provided a sound level of confidence in conclusions from the data. The analysis was able to clearly identify what was important to different customers and what drives a good customer experience for specific segments.

One clear outcome of the research can be experienced by passengers on Go Orange’s Milford Haven. The customer research contributed to the refurbishment concept that now stands the boat apart from other operators, creating a bespoke cruise experience that goes above and beyond the average.

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