Monday, July 23, 2007

Visitor Satisfaction

I had to fly to Pittsburgh for meetings last week. As I stood in line to take my shoes off, etc., it occurred to me how punishing the process of air travel has become. And my job in part is to convince people to go through that experience.

It isn't about the people anymore. They are working diligently under the circumstances. It's the very process itself.

My drive time to Pittsburgh from Durham would have been a little less than 8 hours. My time flying involved:
  • Dropping my car and getting to the airport an hour and a half early each way; that's 3 hours.
  • Delays took another hour; that's 4.
  • Time waiting for baggage on both ends, another hour; that's 5.
  • Not being able to leave when I wanted; another 3 hours, that's 8.
  • Flight time round trip, 3 hours; that's 11.
So it would have taken 3 hours less to drive and a whole lot less hassle.

Durham draws more air travelers than communities nearby or the same size and competitive set. It also draws older, more experienced, well-educated and, yes, demanding travelers. When rating Durham visitor satisfaction, they rate Durham not only for the experience here but also the experience en route.

We can tell because our satisfaction numbers have dropped in the last couple of years.

We've got to find some solutions. Or start encouraging visitors to drive.

1 comment:

Bill Geist said...

It's all about the drive...especially as flights continue to run full and the price continues to escalate. I believe that the ROI on attracting leisure consumers to fly is decreasing. The trick will be to "own" the consciousness of those people from 100 to 300 miles away that have the propensity to travel...and the smarts to stay the night, rather than attempt to return after just a daytrip.

And, drive visitors will likely enter our destination in a much happier frame of mind.

Great to see you in Pittsburgh!