Boosting the end phase of the customer journey to gain and retain visitors of The Hague

4 February, 2016
  • 9 min read
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This article ‘Boosting the end phase of the customer journey’ was written by Hotelschool The Hague students: Alexandra Sprangers Bokelund and Dominique Hendriksen, for House of Hospitality.

Why have we started this project?

The customer journey has for a long time been important to consider within all types of businesses. However, as the world is progressing and the demand of consumers is changing rapidly, the customer journey has become vital for not only businesses, but also for cities. The House of Hospitality provided us with an opportune possibility to create a project aiming at testing the possibilities of creating a prototype(s) for the end of the customer journey.

Why the end?

The Hague’s reputation is not as strong as one might assume. The city is currently focussing on creating memorable and hospitable experiences to visitors’ before and during their stay, however the city doesn't consider the phase of visitors departing from the city. Dr Wiegerink realised that The Hague is lacking that final touch; impressing your visitors at the end of their journey.

What happens when a last(ing) impression is never made?

Current research shows that the era of solely focussing on single touch-points during the pre-departure and arrival stages are over. The time has come to focus on the complete customer journey, including the end. By taking control of the last impressions of a visitor, The Hague cumulates the experiences of a visitor across multiple touch-points; enhancing the likelihood of increased satisfaction, as the overall perception is created at the end of a journey.

What is happening around the world?

Customers are changing; we are living in an experiencing economy in which the 'Internet of Things', globalisation, customisation and gamification play a huge role in customers’ changing behavioural intentions. Worldwide organisations are adapting innovations to their various business concepts, focusing on the end of the customer journey. The innovations are either focusing on surprising the customer or taking away their ‘pains’ at the end of their journey. Such innovations pay off in terms of revenue, costs, overall satisfaction and have a competitive advantage.

How have you, members of the House of Hospitality community, helped us?

With the House of Hospitality community, we hosted an ideation event, referred to as the Idea Generation, to come up with innovative prototypes that could be used as a product for further research on the end of the customer journey. After extensive brainstorming several great ideas were presented such as:

  • Collection water bottles with QR codes to receive at departure of The Hague;
  • Personal photo albums for visitors to gather their memories of The Hague;
  • Royal interaction; a recognition of the royal family at departure of the city;
  • Luggage service when leaving the destination;
  • Traffic jam game;
  • Collect 10 presents during stay by visiting locations and get a welcome home package;
  • Personalised message with advised departure times, for public transportation and car;
  • Departure tram stations a farewell from the Royal family;
  • Posting We hop(j)e(s) to see you soon on trams around the central station.

The purpose of creating a prototype was to test the impact at the end of the customer journey. During the evaluation process, all ideas and pre-researched innovations resulted in generating two prototypes that stimulate visitor engagement at point of departure. The Royal Farewell and the Welcome Home Gift.

The Royal Farewell

The Royal Farewell is an interactive board/photo booth, which allows departing visitors to take a Royal Selfie with the Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima. The board is located at parking zones; the train station and parking lots to ensure all departing visitors have an option of receiving their Royal Farewell. As a departing visitor passes by, the board activates and the King and Queen will bid him/her farewell by waving and sending hand-blown kisses. As they bid the visitor farewell the text “Goodbye, hope to see you soon” appears. Depending on which language the departing visitor speaks, the King and Queen will bid him/her goodbye in their own language. King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima come across as interested in the visitors’ experiences, as they will ask about their stay and where they have been while visiting The Hague. On the touchscreen visitors can click on the attractions that they have been to. Additionally, it is possible to enter your name, which will appear on the interactive screen. Hereafter, you are able to get a ‘Royal Selfie’, with the King and Queen as the background is saying GOODBYE [NAME]. The Royal Selfie will be sent to the visitors’ email address, which they will have entered at the board. There is also a possibility to choose to be reminded/advised on some highlights/experiences of The Hague that they missed out on or what they should visit when/if they return to visit The Hague again. After receiving their Royal Selfie, visitors can share it via social media through #visitthehague. By sharing their Royal Selfie with the related hash tag, they have the chance to win a return trip to The Hague.

The Welcome Home Gift

The Welcome Home Gift is a collection of local products of The Hague, which are given to you at the point of departure of the city. It is a collaborative effort of different hospitality outlets of The Hague. When arriving in The Hague, visitors are able to download a free app. This app will then be used by visitors to scan QR codes, located at various highlights and locations in The Hague. By scanning a location that customers visit points are collected on their account. The amount of points collected then determines the size and content of the Welcome Home Gift. The gift itself can be collected upon departure at tourist offices in The Hague or service points. On the Welcome Home gift it states to “Open me @ Home”, therefore, departure visitors of The Hague will be able to experience their last impression in the comfort of their own home. Visitors are able to share their experience ofThe Hague and the Welcome Home Gift on Social Media via #visitthehague. By doing this, they are part of being able to win a return trip to The Hague.

Testing time

In order to test the effectiveness of the prototypes in the market, experimental testing was used. This entails presenting different situations to respondents, in order to be able to analyse the differences between outcomes. Therefore, three scenarios have been created; the Royal Farewell, the Welcome Home Gift and the ordinary departure from The Hague. All scenarios had a base of that the visitor had been in The Hague with friends/family for a 3-4 nights stay at a good hotel. After their trip it was time for them to depart, this is where the scenarios differed based on the presented scenario. All questions presented to the respondents where based on existing and previously successfully implemented research used and created by professionals. Before launch of the scenarios a pilot study was made to test the scenario testing approach to make sure all questions were understood correctly and that respondents could easily answer the questions based on their given scenario. Some minor adjustments were made and thereafter, the scenarios were randomly distributed to a total amount of 450 respondents. The testing generated, in total, 342 respondents with (between) 113 to 115 respondents per scenario. 

The outcomes of this research were astonishing. 342 respondents were able to present us the following about visitors of The Hague:

  • Out of the two prototypes, ´Royal Farewell´ and ´Welcome Home Gift´, 64% said YES! to Royal Farewell, and 80% said YES PLEASE! to the Welcome Home Gift. In case visitors are less familiar with technology, the Welcome Home Gift should be considered, as it has a higher likelihood of usage than the Royal Farewell.

Compared to the ordinary departure…
Implementing either one of the two prototypes:

  • The functional value:
    Royal  Farewell = +11%
    Welcome Home Gift = +25%
  • The emotional satisfaction:
    Royal Farewell = +19%
    Welcome Home Gift = +25%
  • Loyalty:
    Royal Farewell = 11%
    Welcome Home Gift = 14%

With regards to sharing:

  • Only the Welcome Home Gift increases offline sharing (+12%)
  • Both were presented with ‘Win a return trip to The Hague’ / #Visitthehague
  • However, only the Welcome Home Gift increases online sharing (+13%)

And the winner is: The Welcome Home Gift

Final note

In conclusion, our research has shown that by doing something that stimulates visitor engagement at the end of the customer journey, positive experiences increase compared to when nothing is done at departure. Furthermore, it can be concluded that the Welcome Home Gift was the clear winner in this research out of all the tests. Additionally, it can be said that by making use of the end of the customer journey, this will positively impact the possibilities of retention and gaining new visitors to The Hague. If you are interested in further information, please contact Dr Wiegerink or Alexandra and Dominique.

About the author

Research Centre

In 2010 Hotelschool The Hague has founded a university-wide Research Centre. This centre encourages interdisciplinary research with a strong practice-oriented focus, and (inter)national collaborative dimensions. The Research Centre of the hotel school is anticipated to become a major driver of the integration of programmed research, innovations in industry practice, and the educational programme.

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