Central Europe, particularly the German-language countries, have long been world champions in travelling, until China won over this unofficial title recently. In spite of this, travel remains an important part of the lifestyle of the German-language community. This is particularly true for those who are divers. In 2014, German speaking tourists were responsible for 82.5 billion Euros of international tourism figures — such a large sum speaks for itself.
But how is the customer service level of the tourism industry? How do online travel portals measure up against travel agencies? In which areas are there discrepancies? Prof Dr Thomas Liebetruth from the University of Regensburg presents the results of a study based on market research done by the German Institute for Service Quality. The study reflects the evolution of the service quality of the tourism industry. Here are some of the results:
Online travel portals (tour operators and brokers):
Email services has improved significantly. The quality of email processing in 2010 was just ‘Sufficient’, but it has improved to a ‘Good’ rating (mean value) in the last three years.
Good telephone service: A pleasant voice to man the hotlines of travel portals. The rating is currently ‘Good’, compared to ‘Satisfactory’ from 2010 to 2012.
The quality of the websites has been relatively constant in the recent years – achieving the overall rating of ‘Good’.
Travel agents (at chain stores):
Surprising: The telephone service had always been better than the face-to-face service at the travel agency branches — until this year, when the on-site consultations became the preferred choice, with a quality rating of ‘Good’.
For travel agencies, they were rated as ‘Satisfactory’ in all service areas in 2009. There has been a noticeable improvement, to the current level of ‘Good’ this year.
There had been undeniable improvements. On the whole, the tourism industry has significantly improved its quality of service in recent years.
There has been a stronger focus on personalised customer service – from the higher quality of advice in the travel portals from travel agencies to improvements in the area of personalised telephone channels, particularly email.
"For the consumer in this country, holidays and travel are emotionally charged topics," said author Prof. Dr. Thomas Liebetruth. This was reflected in the increasingly personalised service provided by the tourism industry. Although there has been improvement in many areas, there is still much room for more improvement, and this should be taken into account.
The findings are based on ten studies conducted by the German Institute for Service Quality from 2009 to August 2015. A total of 6,390 transactions at travel portals and travel agencies were analysed, via anonymous tests and internet user profiles, taking into account various media like the telephone, internet and email, as well as onsite consultations.
Source: German Institute for Service Quality