Customer Contact Services - Case Studies Roger Carter, Managing Partner Tourism Enterprise and Management (TEAM) Presentation prepared for TMI Summer Debate 6 July 2004
The Brief “An overview of some of the many customer contact and TIC reviews happening around the UK, and best practice from the UK and overseas”
TEAM’s Strategic work • Concepts emerging from these studies have been incorporated in the VB Customer Contact Strategy thinking, to be outlined by Andrew Duff
Visitor Services Development - Underlying principles • Positioning TICs within a wider framework of information provision • Enhancing service to customers • Reducing cost/ increasing income/ increase RoI • Branding/Increasing the ‘sense of place’ • Promotion of the TIC/Information service • Attracting visitors to come into a TIC • Ensuring the right skills and getting the right staff structures
Visitor Services Development - Underlying principles • Customer focus • Managing visitor flows through a TIC and related logistics • Cash handling and security • Role of TICs/information services in marketing and other strategic goals • Partnership operations
Best practice case studies • Bristol • Highlands of Scotland • New Zealand • Ontario • Paris • Québec • Seven others, not covered today - Austria, British Columbia, Cape Town, Edinburgh and Lothians, Finland, Hungary, Switzerland [This work was a small add-on to the work that TEAM undertook for VB on the Customer Contact Services Strategy concepts and options. It is based on material available on the Web, supported by telephone interviews, where possible – no site visits, alas!]
Bristol - Overview • Bristol Tourism and Conference Bureau (BTCB) is currently reviewing its tourist information provision and looking at non-traditional models for delivery including: • Working with libraries and shopping centres on a franchise basis; • And the potential of becoming a “data steward” for the city. • BCTB recognise the importance of face-to-face information services, but through new models. Bristol has also developed a number of kiosks throughout the city on a partnership basis.
Bristol – Current TIC provision • Bristol does not have one obvious focal point within the city centre as a primary location for a main TIC • BTCP currently has its main TIC located in Harbourside under a partnership agreement with @Bristol, which currently own the premises.
Bristol – towards a network of TICs • BTCB is currently developing a new strategy identifying how they want to develop their TIC services. BTCP is considering setting up a network of TICs, run either by themselves or as a franchise or partnership operation • The aim is to developing a more widely distributed information network to service the needs of visitors and local residents – taking information to the people. • This development is expected to be a long-term endeavour. BTCP is envisaging five levels of service provision from simple street kiosks to a TICs with a full range of services including accommodation booking services, ticketing, retail etc.
Bristol – towards a network of TICs • A satellite TIC has been established in the main retail centre of the city - the Galleries Shopping Centre) – a partnership between BTCB, the Broadmead Board and the Galleries. • The space is on lease for a reasonable cost and staffing costs funded by Broadmead Board and the Galleries • As the shopping centre is redeveloped, this may become BTCB’s main TIC.
Bristol – towards a network of TICs • BTCP is working on an agreement with First Best Western in order to set up a TIC in the Central Station. BTCP would operate this. • They are hoping to have their first 'franchise' type operation in the city museum later on in 2004. BTCP would provide the IT back office system. The museum would host, run and staff the service at their information desk. • They will be considering locations in local libraries.
Bristol – Street kiosks • BTCB has entered into partnership with Clear Channel AdShel, to provide a city-wide network of around 20 touch-screen kiosks (I-Plus Information Point). • The kiosks are funded and maintained by AdShel but feature information from BTCB’s DMS (Integra), providing users with access to the range of services that it supports. • Visitors are not able to book accommodation via the kiosks but can use the system in planning a journey and obtaining directions, choosing places to visit, and finding specific types of shop. • They are part of the Legible City Initiative, designed to provide visitors with consistently designed information about the diverse parts of the city.
Highlands of Scotland - Overview • The Highlands of Scotland Tourist Board (HOST) inherited a large network of TICs, when it was established in 1997, taking over from six former Area Tourist Boards. • Public funding, on which the former network was heavily dependant, diminished, so alternative business models had to be developed. HOST wished to continue the provision of high quality face-to-face information services to its visitors, so it investigated alternatives and decided to franchise a significant proportion of its centres to private operators. • Now there are TICs and Partnership Tourist Information Outlets in 46 locations in the Highlands • Eighteen are directly operated by HOST, using the visitscotland.com system to help handle information enquiries and accommodation bookings • The remainder are Partnership Tourist Information Outlets, operated by local businesses.
Branding • All centres have HOST corporate branding. TICs using the visitscotland.com system also carry a VisitScotland logo. • Partnership Tourist Information Outlets are popular with customers, with some enjoying higher levels of satisfaction than some HOST TICs. • Although officially they are differently categorised (HOST TICs / Partnership Tourist Information outlets), this distinction is not apparent to customers.
Partnership Tourist Information Outlets • HOST has developed partnerships with carefully selected local businesses (usually private businesses, cafes, museums, visitor centres etc.). • These are usually for an initial period of three years. There is a Service Level Agreement to ensure a high quality of service. • In most cases, local business own the premises and operate the tourist information services along with their own business. • In some cases, HOST rents the premises but the service is operated in a professional manner by local businesses.
Benefits of Partnership approach • Partners benefit from the provision of tourist information within their premises through increased footfall, creating new opportunities for their own business • Partnership enables HOST to: • Increase the number of locations of face-to-face tourist information provision • Have some locations open all year whereas before they were only open during the season • Decrease its revenue costs
The Future • The new partnership approach to the provision of TICs services has not been easy to implement • During the first year HOST was confronted with mixed feelings from members of the community and the industry, reluctant to be losing the “status” they believe a dedicated TIC gave to their village/destination • However, those Partnership Tourist Information Outlets are proving a success, particularly for provision in new locations. HOST are continuing to find it an effective solution for further new sites, and an ongoing success in the locations now into their third season. • HOST is planning to further reduce the number of the TICs it operates and to replace them by partnership outlets.
New Zealand - Summary • Tourism New Zealand has in integrated brand strategy that extends from the international marketing message, through to their network of visitor information centres, and on to quality assurance of tourism businesses (using their Qualmark accreditation system) • There are 85 i-SITE Visitor Centres in New Zealand. These are overseen by TNZ and ‘Visitor Information Network Incorporated’ through a regional manager
Visitor Information Network Inc. • The Visitor Information Network Incorporated (VIN Inc) is the officially recognised provider of New Zealand information. • With TNZ, it recognises the importance of having an effective and high quality network of visitor information centres, dedicated to delivering free, comprehensive and objective information. • The VIN Inc Board is a membership-based organisation to which individual centres belong. • In 2002 the visitor information network was re-branded to i-SITE Visitor Centres to make it easier for visitors to identify official visitor information centres in New Zealand. This involved new signage, a supporting brand advertising campaign and in-depth research. Each centre is identified by the distinctive logo and green 'i'. There are 85 i-SITE Visitor Centres in New Zealand.
Management of the VIN • VIN Ltd operates an accreditation scheme across the network, to ensure that staff are knowledgeable and provide objective, quality information. • A Regional Manager with TZN manages the VIN, responsible to both the TNZ and the VIN Inc Board. Key aspects of this role include: • providing strategic vision to the VIN Inc Board • maintaining a quality assessment programme and monitoring the use of the membership standards • overseeing training; maintaining member contact through newsletters, regional meetings and the Annual VIN Conference • working with TNZ on marketing the VIN network offshore.
Qualmark ™ visitor services • In 2002/03, TNZ supported another major destination management initiative with the extension of its Qualmark quality endorsement licensing system from its traditional star grading system for accommodation to cover visitor activities, visitor transport and visitor services. • The Qualmark™ visitor services endorsement system is getting underway in 2004 and will guide visitor to find quality information, reputable tour operators or quality assured publishers of tourist information .
Call Centre Operations • In 2002 after analysis of current levels of demands and trends, TNZ was concluded that their International Call Centre concept was not feasible. • A new outsourced call centre was established in Wellington in 2002 to better service the Australian and North American markets.
Ontario – Overview • The Province operates 18 gateway / strategic TICs, through the Ontario Ministry of Tourism & Recreation • It also has an unofficial role to support regional and local centres which are operated by the different regions within the Province of Ontario • Ontario is committed to future provision of face-to-face services. • The Province also operates a call centre – this has experienced a decline in volume as internet has increased
Tourism Consumer Information System • The Province opted for outsourcing the design, development and running of its Tourism Consumer Information System (TCIS). EDS Canada Inc. was selected to design, build and run the integrated system. • The TCIS incorporates a new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, which integrates a call centre, brochure fulfillment centre, customer services database, B2C Web site and B2B Web site.
Ontario Travel Information Centres • The Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Recreation operates a network of 18 ‘Gateway’ or strategic Travel Information Centres. These work in partnership with regions and tourism industry of Ontario to provide comprehensive tourism information. • Nearly all of the centres were positioned to fulfil a gateway function and they promote not only the whole province, but also the region in which they reside and, in most, cases seek to drive visitors more into local communities. • Seventeen out of eighteen are located at border crossings and in high tourist traffic areas. The final one, at the Eaton Centre, is located in the City of Toronto’s downtown core.
Customer focus • The TIC staff (counsellors) have been introduced to a new, pro-active sales culture. • They have a 2 minute window to ‘read the client’ – i.e. be attentive, discover the needs of the client and ‘plant seeds’ of ideas for the client – with the aim of maximising customer satisfaction and driving visitors to local businesses. • This involves a lot of staff training, on a co-operative basis between Province and Regions – joint courses. • The Provincial TICs have a quality standard that customers should not have to wait more than 5 minutes. There is an active policy of deploying resources to achieve this.
Regional Local TICs • As well as the eighteen centres operated/run by the Provincial Ministry, there many TICs operated at regional or local levels. • Provincial centres have a local catalyst role, promoting the region in which they are situated. • The Province also has an unofficial role to support regional and local centres, and has recently provided a template/guidelines for the Regional TICs (operated by the different regions within the Province of Ontario), dealing with issues such as signage, leaflets, posters, training, etc.
The future • A review is underway to determine the type of visitor services that will be required to enhance and meet travellers’ needs in the future. This will look at combinations of IT-based solutions, face-to-face interaction, as well as point of sale opportunities, i.e. providing a "One Stop Shopping" experience (food services, gift shops, internet access, bookings, etc.) • The Province is now considering a franchise model to transfer the management of its own TICs to the Region or City level, but has not yet taken active steps in this direction
Ontario Call Centre • The Ontario Call Centre offers a toll free service, using bilingual staff to provide travel information and marketing fulfilment • The centre operates from 8am to 8pm (Monday through Friday) and 9am to 6pm (Saturday, Sunday and holidays). • As usage of the web sites has increased, volume at the Call Centre continues to decrease. In February 2004, calls to the Call Centre totalled 15,690 (a drop of 7% over February 2003) while 17,193 fulfillment pieces were requested by consumers (a decrease of 5.3% over February 2003).
Paris - Summary • The Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau (PCVB) has closed its main information centre on the Avenue des Champs-Elysées and is pursuing a policy of expanding the number of ‘welcome centres’ that they operate, in order to provide information closer to key tourists attractions – taking information to the visitor.
TICs – move to a new era • From 1971, the primary Welcome Centre for Paris was situated in a key position on the avenue des Champs-Elysées, but on 1st January 2004, the Bureau has left its prestigious premises. • This decision has been driven by a new Communication Strategy (2003), initiated by the new PCVB, and the high cost of in Avenue des Champs-Elysées. The Strategy promotes the development of new centres to broaden their network of TICs and offer information provision closer to key tourists attractions. • This move is symbolic of a new era for Paris’ tourism operations, brought in by the PCVB, with new strategies and services
The new era • Previously, PVCB only had three Welcome Centres in operation in the capital. PCVB is planning to have a total of around fifteen centres in 2004 and even more by 2005. • The main Welcome Office of the PCVB at 25-27 rue des Pyramides was due to open to visitors in May 2004, • Further seasonal and permanent Welcome Centres will be available in 2004, including the Eiffel Tower seasonal centre. • The network of Welcome Centres will provide a full range of services (hotel reservations, excursions, etc.).
Call Centre Operations • The previous tourism structure operated a tourism call centre for information related enquiries and accommodation booking for the same day only. Calls were handled by staff of the main PCVB Welcome Office at Avenue des Champs-Elysées. The service continues, although the office has now moved. • PCVB promotes a phone number for both domestic and international visitors. Calls are charged 0.34 Euros per minute. Staff answer enquiries regarding: • Accommodation • Entertainment tickets • Excursions and tours of Paris, RATP (metro, RER) packages • Museums and Monuments passes
Québec - Summary • Tourisme Quebec (TQ) itself operates a number of information channels including Web, seven Infotouriste centres (TICs) in strategic locations, and a call centre. • Supporting its information operations is a DMS, developed and operated as a partnership with Bell Canada, the main telephone service provider. • Altogether, there are 236 information centres in Quebec, categorised into different levels.
Information and reservation system • TQ has followed a partnership approach to develop a web-enabled and a multi-channel information and reservation system. The project first started in 1999 from a partnership between TQ and Bell Canada with the objective of introducing a DMS for Québec. In June 2000, BonjourQuébec.com was launched as the Québec worldwide gateway. • Bell Canada was the selected partner of TQ. There is a fiveyear contract between Bell Canada and TQ with an option for three additional years. Bell Canada was and is responsible for the technical provision of the system, the operation of the system and of the BonjourQuebec.com website, the operation of the B-2-Csystem and the handling of all transactions.
BonjourQuebec.com • Bell Canada’s focus is on the industry professionals, while the relation with the consumers are under the operation / responsibility of TQ. • BonjourQuébec’s web-enabled information and reservation system is accessible via: • The Web • The TQ call centre • The seven InfoTouriste Centres operated by TQ • Travel agencies through a dedicated section of the main site • The reservation system is accessible also via 67 regional or private sites that wish to provide a booking service on their sites
Tourist Information Centres • There are now four official types of information centres in Québec, operated by different types of organisations/authority. Each type has its own branding • Quebec Tourism itself operates the network of seven Infotouriste® centres but has no obligation to finance the operations of other bureaux • The others are operated by regional tourist associations, local corporations, local development agencies, chambers of Commerce, tourist offices or other not-for-profit organisations.
Call Centre Operations • TQ’s Call Centre is operated in-house at its offices in Montréal. It operates with call free numbers and handles tourist information enquiries and accommodation reservations in both French and English • Whilst the call centre bookings are taken by TQ staff, the transactions are handled by Bell Canada • Staff at the call centre also handle mail, fax and e-mails enquiries (from BonjourQuebec.com) including requests for brochures/destinations guides