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We wow visitors with our welcome

Bermudians may have a well-known reputation for being warm and welcoming, but visitors to our shores are still overwhelmed by the hospitality of their hosts, according to a survey.

For the friendliness of the Island exceeded the expectations of almost two thirds of visitors, according to a poll of air travellers.

The gap analysis study examined the results of exit surveys of almost 2,000 departing visitors who vacationed on the Island last year.

When respondents were asked what — if anything — exceeded their personal expectations about Bermuda during their stay, a massive 62 percent cited the hospitality and friendliness of residents as being beyond no doubt already high expectations.

But the survey did also get some negative results, with the high cost of holidaying here ranking as the top disappointment among vacationers.

The research is part of a fresh drive by the Bermuda Tourism Authority to harness vast banks of data to formulate marketing and product development strategies.

And the information is being passed on to entrepreneurs planning to start up tourism-related businesses, in an effort to help them deliver exactly what the visitor wants.

At a Lunch And Learn seminar attended by entrepreneurs this week, BTA Chief Product and Experience Development Officer Pat Phillip-Fairn explained: “Our strategies and decisions are very much driven by data we have on the visitor. Visitor needs should drive what we do.

“We are doing things differently by trying to be a lot more focused. We are target and data driven so that we can be a lot more precise in our strategies and our marketing.”

In the last three months the authority's Research & Business Intelligence Division has developed new research tools to measure a vast range of statistics, from trends in visitor arrival origin, purpose of trip and demographic information, as well the tracking of online searches and bookings.

Research director Erin Smith said that having a full understanding of guest perceptions, expectations and experiences had enabled the authority's marketing, sales and product development efforts to become more focused.

“We are repositioning Bermuda in the travel marketplace using research and data that was either not previously leveraged or accessible,” Ms Smith said.

“This enables us to more carefully target consumers with the potential to choose Bermuda, and provide value in the Bermuda experience and share that experience with others.

“It also allows us to work alongside entrepreneurs and business owners to create the experiences desired by our target travellers.”

“Research is used to help shape the strategy for all business areas of the BTA. The Investment Division depends on research for best practices and Economic Impact scenarios. Sales and Marketing depends on research for how best to reach target segments — what messages resonate with them, and measuring the success of implemented strategies.

“And Product depends on research to identify gaps in the current Bermuda experience, determine expectations and measure satisfaction.”

Data is collected in many different ways from different sources and aggregated in the BTA database, including landing card data, exit survey data, online searches for Bermuda vacations by date, persona and geographic region and index scores against competitive destinations, and digital metrics that measure social media, website and online advertising performance.

Ms Smith said that, while travel is currently at an all-time high, the market had become more crowded and competition is intense.

“But with insights and intelligence on what drives the traveller's purchase decision, what will help them select Bermuda over a competitive destination, and what will enhance their experience here, Bermuda is well positioned to take advantage of the growing travel trend,” she said.

Friendly faces: The Bermuda Tourism Authority's Research Assistant Lamar Caines (left) and Research and Business Intelligence director Erin Smith

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Published July 18, 2014 at 9:00 am (Updated July 17, 2014 at 11:55 pm)

We wow visitors with our welcome

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