Over the past decade, there have been substantial shifts in tourism that have resulted in the growing importance of the delivery of outstanding travel experiences.
High satisfaction with travel experiences is critical to achieving increased visitor spending, longer stays, repeat visits and positive word-of-mouth referrals. And destination advocacy, either face-to-face or through electronic media, is critical in attracting first time visitors to British Columbia.
To address these shifts, a key goal of Destination BC’s corporate strategy is for British Columbia to become the most highly recommended destination in North America. The Net Promoter Score® (NPS®)1 measures the intention to recommend or refer a travel destination, and is also an indicator of overall satisfaction with the travel or customer experience.
Satisfaction with the travel experience, and the intention to recommend, greatly increase the likelihood of a return visit to a destination. Therefore, Destination BC actively encourages its tourism partners (e.g. businesses, communities, sectors) to measure and increase their NPS. This summary outlines a research framework that will provide a consistent, credible and robust measure of NPS for communities. This summary also provides an overview of the details to consider when initiating a project, how to determine the best visitor intercept methodology, which survey administrative tools to use, how to develop a questionnaire, and how to complete the NPS calculation and recommended data analysis.
Destination BC has also developed a more detailed guide, Measuring NPS in BC Communities which provides detailed guidelines on the major tasks needed to implement a visitor study and to measure NPS. This guide provides details on project initiation, planning for data collection, phase one data collection (intercept), phase two data collection, data analysis, reporting and project wrap up. The guide can be obtained by contacting Research, Planning and Evaluation at TourismResearch@DestinationBC.ca.
Using insights gained from past NPS work and tourism research best practice, Destination BC has developed a research framework that outlines a two-phase visitor survey methodology that communities can use to measure NPS. Six recommendations shape the research framework:
The NPS is affected by how the study is designed. Every decision made, when planning the project, influences the outcome. The foundation to good research study design is to determine clear objectives that are feasible given the project budget and community characteristics. The project budget and scope are linked, and both must be considered upon project initiation.
The scope of the project includes defining the time period, study area, and target population. The budget often determines the scope of the project. For example, typically, it is too expensive for a community to conduct a year-round visitor survey; therefore, peak-season (e.g. summer or winter) is chosen to conduct the survey. Another option, for limited budgets, is to focus on visitors that are most important to the community (e.g. bring in the most revenue). The scope of the project should include research objectives that are clear, concise statements focused on data collection efforts.
Once the project objectives are determined, the next step is to identify possible sites (i.e. locations) to intercept visitors. Site selection is based on project objectives and characteristics of the community. Good intercept sites have a steady flow of visitors who will have time to talk with the researcher. Intercept sites could include:
The decision tree diagram, noted below, has been built to help communities choose which intercept methodology best fits the community’s tourism characteristics. These methodologies have been built on knowledge of the characteristics of the tourism industry, and techniques tried and tested for previous tourism research studies.
It should be noted that communities may need to adapt one of these to meet their circumstances.The decision tree asks three key questions about intercept sites and the research objectives. They are:
There are several administration tools for both the intercept and follow-up questionnaires. To help evaluate each option, the resources required, strengths and weakness, and estimated costs for each data administration tool are summarized in the table below.
Although summarized in the above table, the self-administered options are not recommended as they do not achieve high participation rates and do not guarantee random selection of survey respondents. Destination BC recommends using face-to-face interviews (with electronic data collection on tablets).
There are several administration tools for follow-up questionnaires. To help evaluate each option, the resources required, strengths and weakness and estimated costs for each data administration tool are summarized in the table below.
Although summarized above, telephone follow-up questionnaires are extremely expensive and likely too costly for most communities.
Below is a short summary of recommendations that will guide questionnaire development, to best measure and understand the NPS. Overall, the intercept interview (i.e. questionnaire) is used to explain the study, gather responses to basic profile questions, and recruit respondents to participate in the follow-up questionnaire.
The follow-up questionnaire asks more in-depth questions, that the visitor can provide stronger responses to when they get home (or post-trip). This includes the NPS and follow-up questions. The NPS question should use the following wording:
How likely is it that you would recommend [Company X/destination X] to a friend or colleague?2
With one of the optional, but recommended, follow-up questions:
FOLLOW-UP 1. Why?
FOLLOW-UP 2. Why did you respond this way?
FOLLOW-UP 3. What led to your [insert value] out of 10 rating?
FOLLOW-UP 4. What is the primary reason for the score you just gave?
Given that visitor characteristics influence the NPS scores, questions that identify those characteristics should also be asked. Specifically, questions should include market of origin, repeat vs. first time visitors, primary trip purpose
(e.g. business/leisure), community characteristics (i.e. factors) that drove destination selection, length of stay, trip activities, and travel party/household composition.
The approach to calculate the NPS, as well as options for data analysis that will provide further insight into study results, are described in this section.
One advantage of the NPS is that the calculation is simple. A step-by-step example of how to calculate the NPS is provided below, which corresponds to accompanying table.
STEP 1 Summarize all responses from the NPS question. The easiest way to do this is with frequency analysis.
STEP 2 Remove the “Don’t Know/No Responses” from the analysis, and re-calculate the percentage of each response category (if applicable).
STEP 3 Assign each response category a NPS category. Question response categories between ‘0’ and ‘6’ are
‘Detractors’, question response categories of ‘7’ and ‘8’ are ‘Passives’ and question response categories of ‘9’ and ‘10’ are ‘Promoters’. In the example on the following page, there were 28% ‘9s’ and 21% ‘10s’.
STEP 4 The proportion of responses in each NPS category is summed.
STEP 5 To calculate the final NPS, subtract the proportion of all detractors (18%) from the proportion of promoters (49%). In the example below, this results in a NPS of 31.
Display your NPS, with the promoter, passive, and detractor scores, in a table or figure similar to the donut pie graph.
To use the NPS to inform management actions, further analysis of the study is needed. Further analysis can be conducted in four broad categories:
1. SUMMARIZE THE PROPORTION OF PROMOTERS, PASSIVES,AND DETRACTORS
First, it is essential to report the proportion of promoters, passives, and detractors along with the final NPS. This is needed because a number of scenarios could lead to the same NPS. The table below highlights three different scenarios that result in the same NPS. Each scenario leads to a different interpretation and possible management actions. For example, scenario one has a moderate amount of passives and detractors. Scenario two has the most promoters, very few passives but a high proportion of detractors. Scenario three has the highest proportion of passives and very few detractors. In scenario two, researchers might focus on identifying and remedying whatever is creating so many detractors. Whereas, in scenario three, one might focus on what is needed to convert some “8”s to “9”s.
2. EXPLORE CHARACTERISTICS OF PROMOTERS, PASSIVES, AND DETRACTORS
Second, for promoters, passives, and detractors, researchers should summarize the characteristics of the study population. The summary should include characteristics that have been demonstrated to impact the NPS, like market of origin, repeat and first time visitor, household composition, community length of stay, primary trip purpose, community characteristics that drive destination selection, and primary activity. The examination might find, for example, that most of the promoters engaged in a particular activity or experience, while the detractors did not.
3. SUMMARIZE THE ‘WHY’
Third, one should summarize the follow-up, open-ended question to help identify why visitors were likely to recommend (or not). Again, in order to gain the most value of the NPS question, researchers should summarize the results by promoters, passives, and detractors. This might identify action items that could help improve NPS scores.
4. SUMMARIZE FINDINGS OVER TIME
Fourth, if possible, one should report the NPS and percentage of promoters, passives, and detractors over time. This might help to correlate changes in promoters, passives, and detractors to changes in the community over time. To allow for year over year comparisons it is important to ensure that similar research methodology was used from year to year.
There are different options available for sharing the results, ranging from a presentation to written report. The objective of reporting is to ensure the research will be properly understood, useful, and practical to end-users (i.e. target audience).
Most reports have the following sections:
Given the importance of a consistent research methodology over time, the technical appendix should include enough detail about the methodology so that the study can be repeated, and results can be compared from one year to the next. The technical appendices should include3:
Researchers should keep in mind that NPS is a registered trademark, and requires proper documentation and acknowledgements when used. When referring to NPS (on a website, in a brochure, in an article, questionnaire, or report) researchers should:
Net Promoter, NPS, and the NPS-related emoticons are registered service marks, and Net Promoter Score and Net Promoter System are service marks, of Bain & Company, Inc., Satmetrix Systems, Inc. and Fred Reichheld.
For more information about proper documentation please review the Net Promoter System website: www.netpromotersystem.com/resources/trademarks-and-licensing.aspx
For more information or to obtain the complete guide “Measuring NPS in BC Communities”, please email TourismResearch@DestinationBC.ca.
Subscribe to our newsletter