Since the financial collapse of 2008 and its subsequent shockwaves, it is commonplace to claim that visitors are becoming increasingly price-conscious. For a large number of people jostled by economic ups and downs, this is of course true. However, continuous hotel developments on the high-end categories, the steady increase of well-to-do visitors originating from emerging markets and the growth of tax-free shopping remind us of the heterogeneity of the tourism sector and of the fact that prices are just one element in the complex decision-making process leading to a visit. From visitors on a shoestring budget to affluent tourists for whom prices don’t matter, many tourists are just looking for what they perceive to be the best possible value for their money. Subjective by nature, “value for money” is an indicator seldom taken into account in international rankings and comparison tools. This is why the ECM Research & Statistics group decided to work on this issue in partnership with TCI Research.
In their new report, entitled “Value for money perception in European cities: improving the visitor experience…”, ECM and TCI Research make extensive use of the TravelSAT Competitive Index, a tool providing data on 11,000+ international tourists interviewed in and outside of Europe. The report provides insight into 13 specific indicators related to price perception (value for money for accommodation, food, shopping, etc.) as well as a focus on six specific markets (USA, Russia, Japan, Germany, United Kingdom, France) and segments (business visitors, friends, families). In order to evaluate the competitiveness of European cities compared to non-European destinations, the report also includes a benchmark between these two groups.
One of the key findings is that, on average, European cities provide more quality than their non-European counterparts, but they are outperformed when it comes to prices and perceived value for money. Even more interesting is the fact that non-paying and intangible experiences such as the hospitality of the local population or a clean environment strongly impact visitors’ overall value for money satisfaction. This is clearly a conclusion worth reflecting on, whether working for a city tourism organisation or a local government.
The report “Value for money perception in European Cities: improving the visitor experience…” is available free of charge for ECM members and can be downloaded on the Intranet of the association.
Chairman, ECM Research & Statistics Group
Research Manager, Amsterdam Marketing