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Are You Asking the Right Questions?

You might not be thrilled about statistics, but statistics can play an important role in the group travel industry. A demographic profile of travelers—including ages, interests, budgets and more—could help you promote tours, and a questionnaire is a great way to collect data.

Questionnaires may seem easy to write, but questionnaire-writing is a craft with a host of pitfalls to avoid. With today's technology, it's not hard to get an answer, yet you want to get the right answer. Here are some tips for conducting surveys to promote your business.

Consult a trained statistician.
Before sending out a survey or making a statistical judgment, consult a trained statistician. Statisticians could help you determine whether you're using the right technique for your research problem.

Design your questionnaire carefully.
In a good questionnaire, each question means the same thing to each and every person who responds to it. Avoid the use of vague terms and words filled with double-entendres.

Fight the urge to ask unrelated questions.
A questionnaire's length does matter! If you're too ambitious and ask too many questions, your questionnaire will go unanswered. Only ask questions related to your research goals.

Test your questionnaire prior to distribution.
If people misinterpret your questions, you collect worthless data. Run a pre-test to see if ambiguities have crept into to your questionnaire. Collecting good data is important to help you make good decisions for your business.

Interpret your data carefully.
People are hard to pin down—especially tourists. They may answer questions haphazardly or even give wrong information. Combine your quantitative analysis with some form of qualitative analysis as a check on the accuracy of your data.

Develop a reward system to increase your response rate.
Some form of a reward, such as a coupon for a discount at a local establishment, may help increase the response rate—which provides you with better data.

Information adapted from "Applying Statistics to Tourism," by Dr. Peter Tarlow. The article originally appeared in Tourism & More's "Tourism Tidbits."


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