Travel Rumblings

Customer Satisfaction Among Tour Operators

Looking out of the window at the large dollop of snow that has fallen overnight, it is easy to think of warmer parts of the world and getting away from the cold and bleak view I see. Where to go is one issue but who I go with is another.

You could be forgiven for thinking, after seeing the Which? Holiday report on tour operators that you should avoid the big companies like Thomson, First Choice, Thomas Cook, Cosmos, and Virgin because they haven’t done very well in the report.

You would be wrong

This is not to say that the survey is wrong. The Consumers Association, (CA), publishers of the different Which? Reports have strict and solid research techniques and knowledge. No, the problem is the sample. It is drawn from members of the CA which is largely upmarket, middle class. These are not the sort of people who tend to book package holidays with the large tour operators so the number of people surveyed who have holidayed with those I mentioned earlier is proportionately much lower. Low response means a few positive or negative responses can affect results.

The whole survey is only 4,507 responders so the people responding per tour operator could be low.  A minimum of only 30 has to reply for each tour operator to be included. Thirdly, smaller tour operators like VFB, which came top (and congratulations to them), move comparatively small numbers of people compared to the millions moved by the big companies. It is always easier to get better customer satisfaction ratings from smaller companies than larger ones and that applies to whichever industry you survey. And to be fair, Rochelle Turner, head of research at the CA said that it might be harder to provide the attention to detail in big companies. Finally, it should be said that the tour operators interview people during their holiday. The CA interviewed people after they had returned home and, in some cases, holidays could have been quite a long time ago. Answers may vary as time elapses.

I should make an admission. I have worked with most of the big tour operators over the years on their customer satisfaction programmes so I know how much time effort and money go into it and the responses they make to problems.

The big tour operators try as hard as the little ones to make your holidays as enjoyable as they can. And if there is a problem, they will try, by and large, to resolve it. I cannot remember, over the last 10 or so years, of any of the biggest tour operators ever being voted number 1. And I wouldn’t expect them to in any survey of CA members

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