Case study: Travel and hospitality

Going digital to boost

By implementing online surveys, Image Tours has significantly increased feedback collection and now has better insights into the customer experience

Image Tours

Image Tours is a European tour operator based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, conducting between 60 and 80 guided tours per year. The company, in business since 1939, partners with travel agencies to craft tours with a “personal touch,” offering a high-quality, immersive travel experience through professionally guided tours and meticulous preparation.

For Image Tours, feedback is paramount. Customer service is an integral part of the business, and Image Tours relies upon positive feedback—whether it’s online or word-of-mouth—to keep customers returning year after year, or to attract new clients. Customer feedback—and closely monitoring the experience of each and every client—also helps Image Tours to fine tune its offerings and remain competitive. “We value our client feedback immensely,” says Rachel Najar, European Operations Manager for Image Tours. “It’s how we continue to make our tours better and work with our providers.”

The Challenge

Image Tours has traditionally conducted client surveys, but these were paper-based surveys sent to customers after they’d completed a tour. This approach, however, had a few limitations—from the logistics of mailing surveys, waiting for responses, and distributing them to management, to legibility issues. “We had to wait for surveys to get mailed back to us, and they are sometimes written in handwriting that you can’t always read very well,” says Najar. “Then we made multiple copies and route them, and everyone looks at different things and tries to gain different information from it.”

It quickly became clear that Image Tours needed a modern solution that would allow them to collect feedback, organize and analyze information, and present the data in a way that was understandable and insightful.

The Solution

Najar began looking for an electronic survey solution that would be powerful and, above all else, user-friendly. After comparing several solutions, Najar chose Sogo, not only for the platform’s functionality, but also for Sogo’s customer service. “Sogo doesn’t feel like a big, impersonal machine—it feels like a company with people who are willing to work with me to make it happen,” she says. “It was nice to know that there was always somebody on the other end of the line.”

Once Image Tours started using the Sogo platform, they found that building and launching surveys was a simple process, and the Sogo team was always available to answer any questions. “With the help of Sogo’s support, I was able to simplify my surveys, which just makes the information that we’re getting that much more meaningful,” says Najar. “They helped us to home-in on the information we’re after and to get the most feedback in the least number of clicks.”
The Result

Najar points out that there are multiple factors at play that can affect the success of a European tour—everything from hotels and motorcoach drivers to tour guides and restaurants, all within the same tour but affecting different groups. In the past, it could be difficult to parse feedback to determine which hotel (even an individual room) or transportation service (down to a particular driver) may have been a contributing factor for a negative customer experience. But with Sogo, Najar can drill down into the specifics, accounting for the factors of each tour, and find where issues may be arising that would yield a less than stellar experience for clients.

“In the past, when we were doing exclusively written surveys, it has been hard to see that there might have been a specific or ongoing problem,” says Najar. “Back then, for example, at the end of the year, if a hotel with 40 tour dates had an issue and I brought it up, the hotel would say, ‘why didn’t you contact us earlier?’ We could’ve done something.’ I couldn’t see trends that quickly. But now with Sogo, it’s easier to spot that, to see those discrepancies and problems much sooner so that I can address them.”

Najar can then take the insights she has gleaned from the Sogo platform and show the report to the service providers so they can clearly see where the trouble spots are. “I can easily take a tour, cut out what I don’t need, and send what is applicable to the motor coach company, for example. It makes it easier to present information in a black and white way.”

With Sogo, Image Tours has increased both the quantity and quality of information received, and that translates to more satisfied clients who will be signing up for more tours—year after year. “We’re getting so much more information now and it’s so much more helpful,” says Najar. “We were at maybe 40-60 percent rate of return on feedback, and now we’re close to 80 percent. We’re all very pleased with what Sogo has done for us so far, and there is a whole lot more we can do and would like to do. The sky’s the limit.”

Benefits achieved with Sogo
  • Increase in feedback response, from as low as 40 percent up to 80 percent
  • More actionable information through the ability to drill down into the many variables within each tour to find where trouble spots occur—and why
  • Clear reports can be generated and shared with hotels, transportation providers, and other services to show where potential problems may be arising, before they negatively impact business
  • Increased efficiencies through process improvements—automatically scheduled surveys helps Image Tours stay on top of data collection
  • Better view into the factors that influence the success of each and every tour
What’s Next

With Sogo, Image Tours is looking to make a few changes in the near future, including:

  • Send surveys to past clients to gather ideas for new tours and service offerings
  • Leverage more digital access for employees, tour operators, and clients, such as mobile-based “pulse” surveys for tour guides, drivers, or customers to check-in with any issues

We’re all very pleased with what Sogo has done for us so far, and there is a whole lot more we can do and would like to do. The sky’s the limit.


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