Show me the money! - Demonstrating the economic value of hospitality in a cultural institution.

5 April, 2017
  • 5 min read
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What if a theatre invested into hospitality? What if a cultural institution improved its hospitality performance? To what extent would the hospitality investment pay off? The research project Cultural Business Case seeks to measure the economic value of hospitality. Culturele Business Case (Cultural Business Case, CBC) is a joint effort by Hotelschool The Hague, House of Hospitality, Culturele Business Case, Gemeente Den Haag and Zuiderstrandtheater, a major cultural institution in The Hague.

In a real life situation, Zuiderstrandtheater designed and introduced a small, well-organised hospitality improvement, which resulted in higher guest satisfaction and higher Net Promoter Score, equalling to an expected increase in revenue by 3800 euro. Based on two comparable performances.

The methodology is in line with the basic principles of “service design thinking”, such as co-creation by various stakeholders and customer journey mapping.

Representing House of Hospitality, the project was coordinated by Jan Huizing and Karoline Wiegerink (research chair City Hospitality, Hotelschool the Hague). A group of eight students actively participated, in the role of mystery visitors. The students not only visited the theatre performance, five in total, but actually conducted the entire guest journey, from selecting and booking a performance, up to leaving the theatre and travelling back home. The mystery visits were extensively reported in the form of a journey map, showcasing the various touchpoints and how these were perceived by the visitor.

All journey maps were shared and discussed with the management and key employees of the Zuiderstrandtheater. This interactive workshop was both confrontational, inspiring and very insightful. The output of the workshop was an overview of potential hospitality innovations, varying from easy-to-implement to very complex, and from low to high customer value. After the workshop with valuable input from the mystery shoppers, the management of Zuiderstrandtheater opted for an easy-to-implement and high value to customers innovation, being: a warm, personal welcome experience. A dedicated employee would personally greet and welcome the guests, and by doing so would make a real difference in hospitality. How to measure the intended effect? Two comparable performances were selected, one without the improvement (0-situation), and the other day with improvement (1-situation). A student researcher conducted a survey on both days. Not only guest satisfaction was measured, but also the Net Promoter Score (indicating promoters minus criticasters) and the likelihood of returning to the Zuiderstrandtheater (Net Loyalty Score).

The measured results: the performance with the warm, personal welcome generated higher scores on all aspects. Satisfaction towards welcome experience: from 35% ‘good’ to 63%; NPS +21, NLS +32. Also based on general research, these higher scores at Zuiderstrandtheater – with 700 performance visitors - will most likely lead to 109 new visitors, equalling 3.800 euro incremental revenue. This outcome is based on two comparable performances at Zuiderstrandtheater and cannot be generalised. Further research, i.e. more of these projects at various cultural institutions, will be needed to build a strong business case. The first results are promising. House of Hospitality will continue to further demonstrate the ‘return on hospitality’. Cultural institutions are welcome to join our research project!

For more information:

"The project encouraged us to focus on hospitality, involving all employees - a highly valuable investment."

Blaise van de Griend - Management Team Zuiderstrandtheater

"We made this happen in a joint effort with our employees. It keeps us alert and eventually will lead to satisfied and returning visitors!"

Henk Scholten - Director Zuiderstrandtheater


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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