Wowing visitors with unforgettable experiences and delivering world-class customer care to increase business were the themes of Fáilte Ireland’s ‘Wow Visitors: Win Business’ Customer Experience Summit.

Representatives from over 200 tourism businesses including the Brian McEniff Hotel Group and the Gateway Hotel in Swinford heard from a panel of international and national experts on the latest in international visitor trends and how exceptional customer service can provide a competitive edge for tourism businesses.

Chief Executive of Fáilte Ireland, Paul Kelly said that the conference was organised as part of the Agency’s strategy to support the tourism industry with on-going professional business development and training.

He added: “The event was aimed at providing Donegal tourism businesses with the latest trends and insights from the marketplace that they can incorporate into their business.

“As we face Brexit and other competitive challenges, it becomes more important than ever to develop those extraordinary, brilliant and unforgettable experiences that visitors want.

“Ireland as a destination is certainly able to compete in delivering memorable experiences to visitors and today we are looking to bolster what we can offer.”

Speakers at the conference included:

  • Daniel Levine, founding Director of New York-based trends consultancy, Avant-Guide and global editor of WikiTrends who discussed the current major trends in travel and tourism and how social media influences business success. (Listen to a video clip HERE).
  • Eric Cosset, Director Park Operations, Product Integration and Development at Disneyland Resort, Paris provided an overview of how Disneyland Paris became a world-renowned model for customer experience and service excellence.
  • Paul Carty General Manager of the Guinness Storehouse spoke about consistently delivering memorable experiences and how to improve performance. (Listen to a video clip HERE).
  • Niamh O’Shea, General Manager of the Killarney Park Hotel highlighted how delivering exceptional customer experiences links directly to results. Listen to a video clip HERE).

    Fáilte Ireland brought together this panel of international and national experts to provide the latest in international visitor trends and to help tourism businesses use these insights to become more innovative, relevant and profitable.

    The Irish tourism industry is playing a vital economic role with over 235,000 people employed in the sector and with visitors spending €7.2 billion last year.

    Panellist Daniel Levine emphasised that: “Change in tourism is happening faster than ever and businesses need to be able to adapt. Using today’s visitor and consumer trends can create tomorrow’s solutions.”

    Speaking at the conference, Michael Lennon, President of the Irish Hotels Federations said that he was delighted to attend the Customer Experience Summit and the issues of customer focus and putting the visitor at the centre of everything a business does are vital for the continued success of the hospitality and hotel industry.

    “The entire tourism sector, whether resorts, destinations, accommodation or activity providers, are in it together.

    “By developing our local networks and sharing what works with each other, we can ensure continued growth and success. To do so, we must however remain authentic and true to the business.

    “In many ways, we are all cast members with storytelling at the core of building those very memorable and enjoyable experiences for visitors.”

    One of the attendees, Will Lynch, General Manager at the Coolmine Equestrian Centre said: “I found the content of the conference really beneficial especially as we head into the busy season as I feel that it will help me to refocus my efforts. It was great to hear from the experts on the top trends in the tourism and travel sector.”

    Insights and topics covered included:

    • Visitors want easy experiences: Best modern practice is to make the entire customer journey accessible, convenient and seamless.
    • Visitors want to share their experiences: Helping visitors connect can help towards business success.
    • The power of face-to-face encounters: Investing in and empowering employees can ensure better engagement with visitors.
    • Trends are all about responding to change: Stay aware of what your customers are saying and the use of technology can be greatly beneficial and progress should be embraced.
    • Visitors want transparency: Show the story behind your visitor experience and take a fresh look at what you do.

      The tourism sector needs to continuously identify factors that can set Ireland apart and allow it to excel in the provision of customer service and to differentiate itself from its international competition.

      The conference heard that if visitors leave having enjoyed excellent and memorable experiences they are more likely to return and indeed make recommendations for others to visit.

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