Know Your Customer
What are our visitors saying about us?
Overall visitor feedback is very encouraging, with 96% of our visitors rating their overall experience in Northern Ireland positively and a similar proportion stating they would recommend it to their friends/relatives.
However, the challenge is that tourism is a competitive market and, while the Northern Ireland experience is rated highly by our visitors, only 41% considered us better than other destinations for a holiday/short break (with the same proportion rating Northern Ireland on a par with other destinations). Only 58% of Northern Ireland’s visitors from GB and overseas are likely to revisit in the next five years.
So, while we are doing well we need to keep improving to create an offering that is unique and appealing enough to tempt holidaymakers away from other destinations and encourage them to return.
Accommodation can be seen as the heart of the visitor experience and positive encounters with staff/hosts can make or break a trip.
It is encouraging then that visitors reported positively on the people aspect of Northern Ireland accommodation, with “friendly and informative staff/hosts”, “staff conveying a sense of pride in their area” and staff/hosts generally “helping to make the trip a more enjoyable experience” the highest scoring accommodation factors.
Value for money also plays an important role (especially where domestic and ROI visitors are concerned) which represents an opportunity for accommodation providers to find simple but effective ways of adding perceived value to the offering (see Your Business chapter for further information).
Food and drink is a vital part of the tourism experience, as recognised by Northern Ireland’s Year of Food & Drink 2016, and offers Northern Ireland an opportunity to promote its culture and be unique and memorable.
We know that fresh, seasonal, locally sourced produce resonates with visitors and they increasingly want to know where the food on their plate comes from. However, ratings for “menus that demonstrate the use of local produce” were among the lowest provided by visitors in relation to eating out in NI, highlighting this as an area in which we need to improve. Our visitors have told us we also need to get better at providing information on places to eat and drink.
The importance of the people encountered is echoed again, as visitors rated the “friendly, efficient service” highly and, overall, the eating out experience in Northern Ireland is improving.
Things to see and do
It is vital for a tourism destination to have a wide variety of things to see and do to encourage visitors to visit the destination, stay longer and spend more as well as providing them with fantastic experiences to share and a reason to return.
Typically, visitors to Northern Ireland participate in a wide variety of activities from the more active such as walking/hiking to the more cultural including visiting historic properties/monuments, as well as enjoying the hospitality in our pubs.