Tag Archives: servicedesign

Your place isn’t just anywhere

And neither are you

It takes understanding your customer, their movement and expectations, but also the pacing of their day and time and their perception of “homeness” . In that respect, the locations travelled through some of the locative games, are consumption zones, without semiotic narratives or meaning, other than the often very real sense of fun, associated with it. However not as authentic.

Creating Homeness with more than optional thrillseeking

Due to several factors such as better infrastructure and public transport and commodification of rural difficult to reach areas- formerly the realm of the adventure-backpacker, the thrill and exitement for the actual act of traveling, has decreased. At the same time, the desire to engage in other specifically designed activities within a smaller scale, has increased greatly. A sense of authenticity is still very important.

Backpackers want to feel the real atmosphere of the destination and therefore do not fit within the the package arrangements, often intended for mass tourism.

Remember, there is a difference between backpackers, travellers and tourists. I will go into these differences some other time, but the point is: they all share the same infrastructure. Different needs, wants and expectations.

Travel and the body

The mind does not only exists within the bounderies of our skulls. We experience the world and the act of travel through our bodies aswell. Mediated by, guided by, formed and transformed by the landscape and our bodies.

Through walking, we are allowed to know the landscape in all its features. Step-rhythm generates thought rhythm. The path through the landscape activates a path of thought.

A new thought often looks like an old landscape feature, as if thinking were travelling» (Solnit, 2000). There is a vast body of knowledge on the relationships between travel, the body and mind and landscapes. It is quite impossible to create a singular structure within the boundaries of this blog (and my expertise). However, a few founded and grounded topics, I shal not withhold from you.

A lived experience

Backpackers use their body as an instrument of passage, not just movement. The act of leaving for a new destination and arriving there, through travel, is as much meaningful to his sense of selfness, as is the pre-travel dream and its representations. There is a shift in research towards the multisensory experience and corporeal engagement. Big hotel chains have yet to embrace this, which gives them an immense backward position. Embracing new and less common insights, does not make everything else obsolete! As experience designer and concepter, I find this highly remarkable and ignorant. Furthermore is the tourist not just gazed upon as a mere consumer, but approached from a wide variety of scientific research.

As a professional, I find this highly remarkable and ignorant.

The bodily sensation, corporeal experience has gained in interest and popularity, also by professionals such as myself. I use all manner of research from different scientific sources, to be able to do my work as best I can. The deliverables usually, are written in the language of the client and stakeholders. I can acknowledge the fact that a more holistic approach in the deliverable, usually conjures up more questions than can be answered in a few oneliners.

Tourism research is very much focussed on the visual. By commodification of image culture, place branding, city marketing, placeboosting, this was very much about politics of representation.

To be perceptive of the landscape, is more than just travelling in it. The landscape has given us- since the time ot the hunter-gatherers -ways to make meaning and to remember. To remember more than just the individual life and lifespan. To cite Ingold:

‘‘To perceive the landscape is to carry out an act of remembrance, and remembering is not so much a matter of calling up an internal image, stored in the mind, as of engaging perceptually with an environment that is itself pregnant with the past.’’

Landscape, travel, mind and body are very much culturally linked. Vast distances to travel between families for instance, will produce a totally different sense of space and distance, aswell as time. Tourism has both spatial and temporal dimensions. After the journey people describe themselves as being wiser and emotionally and more socially adept. A very noticeable characteristic of backpacking narratives is the way they describe deep and profound personal changes, after having made the trip.

The experience of mobility is conditioned and co-produced through interaction and engagement (willingly, non-willingly, accidental, subconsciously) with ordinary structures, shapes and materials, such as a folded newspaper, a laptop, mobile phone. Not to mention the circulation of affects such as stress, being tired, irritated etc. They all play roles in the creation of a particular travel atmosphere.

Although backpackers seek to connect with different cultures and localities, they have the tendency to very easily become part of an isolated and self-contained community of travellers, with little to no local connections. The backpacker enclaves have become important surroundings for exchange. The provide an important source of information and information-exchange.

The backpacking sociability and presence as ” a community on the road” was in the past a fleeting and short-term sight, as a perceivable community. Now, in the age of social media, not only the tourist-geography but also the construction and location of social bubbles and hubs, are more visible and traceable.

As traveller by train or bus, your perception of time, travel time and transit, is part of a delicate interaction-sequence and performative structure that defines mobility; Complex socio-technical systems, that afford, restrict or prevent particular mobile practices. Refer to Wilsons Affordance theory here.

These can be seen as the design-structure of your mode of transport. This design-structure includes not only the above and you- it is comprised of different materialities. Textures, movement, hardness, colour etc.

Tourism research is very much focussed on the visual. By commodification of image culture, place branding, city marketing, placeboosting, this was very much about politics of representation.

The Nature of Cities

To be perceptive of the landscape, is more than just travelling in it. The landscape has given us- since the time ot the hunter-gatherers -ways to make meaning and to remember. To remember more than just the individual life and lifespan. To cite Ingold:

‘‘To perceive the landscape is to carry out an act of remembrance, and remembering is not so much a matter of calling up an internal image, stored in the mind, as of engaging perceptually with an environment that is itself pregnant with the past.’’

Servicedesign and guest citisenship

Recovering poor service on the workfloor

As could be read in earlier blogs, even if you are a small hostel, a familiy-run bed and breakfast, a low-budget accommodation: It is inexcusable not to think thoroughly about the services you provide. Simply NOT doing something, does not constitute a service! Nor does leaving things out, because it is your hostels policy not to provide too much guest-services for not being economical or simply too much work for the staff you have or don’t have.

Loyalty

Your guest really is perceptive enough to see the contours of the `deal’ that he is presented with. Chances are he was already familiar with it, before he even came to the hostel. That is- however -not the same as guest loyalty. He is simply providing behaviour that ties in with his side of the bargain! As written in earlier blogs, low prices are not the only thing the backpacker chooses your hostel for. The matter of ambiance is hugely improtant (see the post on creativity). Not only does a creative ambiance give the guest a good feeling on a personal level, it also creates a space for him, in which to interact with others, causing him to use the interaction with fellow-guests and space, as an interface for social interactions.

Service provided by guests

Many hostels employ volunteering travellers and backpackers as their staff. See also the post on volunteering abroad. It is important to give your volunteering traveller a good deal aswell, always making sure you remain on the giving side of the deal. It is perfectly acceptable to ask your volunteer to maintain certain standards and behaviours in handling guests. Instructing them, providing scripts, making sure they read a servicedesign manual you might have created. But make sure you discuss these things before they arrive. Furhermore, motivate them beforehand to apply if they have the personality traits ands skills you require of them, to communicate your servicelevel with. But again, make sure you remain on the giving side of the deal.

Contrary to popular belief, the loyalty of your guest can still be maintained and be put to good use, if they are happy with your service recovery effort. If something goes wrong, make sure you correct it and use the dimensions:

  • Competence
  • Excitement
  • Sincerity
  • Sophistication and
  • Ruggedness.

In short, make sure there is room for your guest to experience empathy for you and your efforts. When you have recovered their satisfaction, make sure the guest experiences this in a full recovery of the expected services, including all dimensions- tangible and intangible.

Loyal guests usually attribute errors to unstable factors, over which the supplier has little control. In the case of volunteering staff, guests are more likely to accept service-recovery, but it is important to understand that volunteers are often part of the group, with little to no distance to the guests, and therefore likely to choose the side of the peer-group rather than playing the role of experienced hostel manager. And who can blame them? Ashforth and Mael (1989) found that social identification lead persons to perform activities that are congruent with their identity and support institutions that embody that identity. So the volunteer-employee might be just the person to handle these things. If handles correctly, they will identify with the hotel organisation.

complaints

Guest behaviour after service-recovery, is much more likely to be a guest-citisen- also known as customer voluntary performance, varying in behaviour from using less towels as to have less costs for the hostel, to helping out during breakfast and giving advice to other guests.

So the production of your service is very much a joint effort with volunteers, paid staff and ofcourse your guests, which includes a good briefing of volunteers before they arrive.

Interested in putting everything into practise and see welldevised concepts turn into proper, unforgettable experiences? Contact me!

Renk van Oyen

Contact me

Hostel servicedesign: making the obvious seem extra special

CONCEPTUAL Framework hospitality.pngServicedesign: making the obvious seem extra special

Even when a hostel provides only the most elementary and basic service, these too are called products. Ofcourse they are only a small part of the whole deal. Each element within this deal, contributes to either satisfaction or dissatisfaction and a negative recollection of their stay.

A bed is a bed is a bed, you might think? Through applying different features to your services, the products and the surroundings within you place them, you differentiate from others. A dormitory room with twin-beds, standard room, etc.

Tourism-products

There are 3 levels of tourism products:

  1. The core-product: The essential service or benefit, designed to satisfy the identified needs;
  2. The formal or tangible product: the special offer on sale.
  3. The augmented product: all the forms of added value produced, to make the core-product more attractive.

Complexity

Tourism products can be categorised in different ways. One criterium is the level of complexity, or number of services, embedded within a single offer. You can say you can divide them into simple and compound products.

A good way to let your services standout, is to combine several elements in such a way, that the most important one you want to convey- albeit a “simple” one, stands out.

Basically there are 4 types of simple products:

  1. A service: like guidance, gastromic- or hotelservice, tourist info
  2. An Item: like a guide, map, souvenir.
  3. An object: like a museum, a castle, church
  4. An event: a show, presentation etc.

Simple products can be combined together, to make it into a more complex and advanced product.

Overview Renk on Linkedin