By:Mary Lu Laffey
The team at Tulip Time Festival in Holland, Mich., trusts in the value of surveys. Just ask Rachel Syens, group tour manager for this ABA member event.
“Surveys are very helpful for us because they provide a variety of different information,” says Syens. “We can better tailor a group’s experience from start to finish by asking about whether or not groups utilized itinerary planning with us, how they heard about us, and their experiences at the festival.”
For at least eight years now, the Tulip Time Festival crew has combed through survey forms and analyzed the feedback from visiting groups.
Feedback has also shown that customers value having a definitive contact from the event team.
“Groups like having someone explain the different options available for a day and help them plan out their timeline,” she says. “They let me know if they need a parking pass; I let them know how long it will take to get from place A to place B.”
The No. 1 survey response received from groups is how helpful it is to be able to purchase tickets to shows, meals, attractions, etc., all in one place.
The Tulip Time Festival Group Tour Planning Guide outlines both new and returning features, whether they are available services, tours, meal options, or events. The guide was released Nov. 1 for the May 4–12, 2019, event, which celebrates the festival’s 90th year. With a theme of “Paint the Town Orange,” the anniversary honors old Netherland traditions and the beauty of tulips with new festival experiences. The orange theme celebrates the history of tulips and the House of Orange (the Dutch royal family). She hopes that groups will get into the spirit and wear something orange during their stay.
“The survey yields consistent results that groups are impressed with our entertainment options, both national and our local arts and culture series,” Syens says. “One group says that their motorcoach tours were selling so well because of The Beach Boys [referring to the 2018 festival].”
Jay Leno will headline in 2019. The Texas Tenors, Four Pianos, and Hotel California are also scheduled.
“According to the group surveys, the availability of step-on tour guides is one of our most highly rated activities. I would guesstimate that at least 70 percent of groups that I have created itineraries for this year have booked a step-on guide tour,” she says. “Since so many of our groups book a step-on guided tour, we do a separate survey for them to learn how we can improve each year.
“Because we respond to survey comments, groups also know they’ll have a consistently great experience with us,” says Syens.
Mary Lu Laffey is a freelance travel journalist who specializes in group and tour travel.