How should we measure the tourist experience? Material well-being, or GDP, is regarded by some as insufficient to measure our quality of life and the evaluation of specific services in terms of customer satisfaction may also be somewhat lacking.
For various industries that cater to tourists and practise the essence of hospitality through nurturing host-guest relationships, tourist happiness may be a better measure of service performance and destination competitiveness as it takes into account not just lobbies and facilities or services provided, but also factors in the whole tourist experience.
What then are the factors that can make tourists either happier or less so, while traveling in and around Switzerland?
Switzerland has been consistently ranked among the world’s happiest countries since 2012, when the first World Happiness Report was published. It’s probably also one of the happiest tourist destinations, according to a study by EHL assistant professor Yong Chen and his co-author, Dr Robert Li Xiang, from Temple University in the United States.
With GDP, a measure of material well-being, now seen as insufficient in measuring quality of life, economists have been considering an alternative measure of a nation’s economic prosperity and social progress that includes subjective well-being, or happiness.
As policies at the national level shift to measuring economic prosperity and social progress, the hospitality industry should consider whether service quality and tourist satisfaction, two ubiquitous indicators of service and destination performance, are still reliable when travel and leisure become an indispensable part of our daily life.
Tourist happiness may not only be a better measure of service performance and destination competitiveness in terms of assessing holistically the tourist experience. It can also be a tool that, if used agilely, can boost ‘life satisfaction’ for tourists as well as for the general population. Above all, what gets measured gets managed.