YTB and North West Tourist Board (NWTB) successfully attracted funding from the English Tourism Council (ETC) in 2000/2001 to pilot research into conference facilities within its regions.
The purpose of the research is to encourage the improvement of conference venues, their facilities and the attractiveness of the locality in which they are situated by measuring the levels of satisfaction that delegates have with their conference experience. It also seeks to measure the perception that delegates have of a destination, how their visit affects this view and how it might affect future leisure visits. This research will prove invaluable to Conference Destination Bureaux and Tourist Destination Managers as a resource to help them to grow their conference and leisure business.
It seeks to plug a long-standing information gap that destinations have of their conference market. Whilst some information is available that maps the scale and nature of conference markets, particularly at national level, local and regional information relating to the strengths and weakness of the conference market is less prevalent.
Like other benchmarking exercises, for example Destination Benchmarking of towns and cities, YTB and NWTB is seeking to measure the satisfaction that customers have of their tourist experience, in this case Business Tourism. This will enable them to compare their ‘satisfaction’ score against the average for all participating locations and in time will enable comparisons to be made with competitor locations, for example Heritage Towns and Seaside Towns.
It is proposed that interviews will be conducted with conference delegates to determine how satisfied they were with the conference venue and destination. A selection of different venues would be used to build up a comprehensive profile of a particular destination, and a range of different factors will be investigated, including the standard of the conference venue, the accessibility and attractiveness of the conference destination and the perception that delegates have of a destination both for business and leisure visits.
The research will then ‘score’ delegates’ satisfaction level, identifying potential weaknesses with conference product, in doing so providing a ‘benchmark’ from which to measure the success of various interventions and investment over time.