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counterpoint

social responsibility support services

Proposal Brief for the Evaluation of Tourist Information Centres (TICs) • • • •

to examine the contribution TICs make to tourism yield to benchmark a facility’s performance to improve the effectiveness of TICs to improve the quality of the visitor experience and enhance national reputation

• to facilitate training strategies for frontline staff • to identify outcomes that can be incorporated into the design of new centres !

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MINISTRY OF TOURISM: TOURIST INFORMATION CENTRES EVALUATION PROPOSAL BRIEF

Background and Rationale Tourist Information Centres (TICs) perform a number of functions in meeting the needs of tourists, the tourism industry, the government, and the local community in which they are located. Tourist Information Centres: •

provide information, orientate, educated and entertain tourists,

make important contributions to the economic well-being of communities by encouraging visitors to experience and support local events, attractions and services,

provide marketing opportunities for local goods and produce, and

constitute a potentially important intervention strategy in support of conservation objectives by shaping attitudes toward more environmentally sensitive tourist activity and providing visitor management services to reduce pressure on ecologically fragile and sensitive areas.

The quality of customer service, facilities and information provided by these centres is likely to influence the overall holiday experience of tourists, what they do in the area and beyond, and whether they would make use of TICs in other areas. Tourist Information Centres compete with the availability of travel information from a variety of other sources - books, magazines, brochures, television shows, and the internet. The main advantage that TICs posses over these other sources of information is their ability to provide friendly and knowledgeable face-to-face interaction, first-hand local insight, and up-to-date information. Crucial, therefore, to the success of TICs is: •

the proficiency of paid and volunteer staff at developing exemplary customer service skills,

the provision of a space that is designed and utilised so that visitors and staff can interact comfortably and efficiently,

the ability to ensure that information provided is up-to-date, complete, and matches the needs and time limits expressed by tourists,

the capacity of management and staff to continuously monitor and evaluate changing visitor needs, maintain a high level of service delivery, and steadily make improvements over time, and

the availability of sufficient promotional and marketing assets to ensure that visitors are aware of them.

This proposal suggests an independent evaluation of existing facilities in order to determine their overall effectiveness across a range of criteria, and ensure that TICs continue to meet the needs of government, visitors, the tourism industry, local communities and cultural groups (where applicable), and justify their expense in terms of capital outlay and recurring costs. Evaluation Criteria 1. Visitor Analysis To determine the socio-demographics of who uses the centre, how tourists or visitors use the centre, what their expectations and motivations are, what they think of the centre and it’s services (perceptions, attitudes and opinions), and what impacts the centre has on users through a visitor survey instrument and an observation checklist. 2. Customer Service To assess current levels of customer service provision including - language proficiency, use of scripts, articulation and inflection, telephone etiquette, non-verbal communication and demeanour, knowledge of products, complaint handling etc. - through a visitor survey instrument, and management and staff self-evaluation questionnaires.

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MINISTRY OF TOURISM: TOURIST INFORMATION CENTRES EVALUATION PROPOSAL BRIEF

3. Information Provision and Knowledge Management To examine knowledge management within TICs, the tools and strategies used in information update and exchange, the ways in which information is disseminated (printed, verbal and ICT technology tools), and visitor preferences on the way information is handled and used. 4. Design Elements To investigate design issues and physical attributes relevant to the effectiveness of the centre including location; opening hours; facility design and theme; floor-plan and use of space; outdoor directional signage and other referral strategies; interior orientation signage; displays, exhibits, interpretive signage and use of media for different categories (feature attractions, travel products and services, merchandise); child-friendliness and accessibility issues; and overall atmosphere. 5. Training and Ongoing Service Provision Evaluation To appraise current tools and strategies for customer service training and evaluation, developing staff product knowledge, developing a productive volunteer workforce, conducting on-going visitor research and evaluations. Methodology In order to assess all facets of a centre to identify it’s strengths and weaknesses, a formal summative evaluation approach using a mixed-method quantitative and qualitative research will be used. This approach has the potential to reveal mistaken assumptions or expectations, any weaknesses or omissions that may be possible to fix with relative ease, and its findings can be incorporated into future centre planning, design and operation. Details of the complete methodology are available in the full proposal (see Suggested Next Steps below). Scope This proposal suggests the evaluation of a range of Tourist Information Centres at key destinations (for example, KLIA, KL Sentral, Lumut, Lankawi, Penang, Tambak, Kuching, Labuan, Bukit Kayu Hitam) so that meaningful comparisons across different centres can be made. Benefits This project would provide valuable information on the expectations and preferences of TIC users, and important objective benchmark data on key elements that contribute to a facility’s performance - its effectiveness and efficiency in management and operation. This information would: •

provide useful information to agencies and stakeholders so they can make decisions on upgrading, updating, deleting and adding components to ensure that information, services and interpretation are delivered effectively and economically,

improve the quality of the visitor experience and appreciation process,

facilitate the improvement of training strategies for frontline staff,

give an opportunity for management and staff to view practices and procedures implemented in other centres and other parts of the country,

facilitate the sharing of ‘best practices’ in information dissemination, customer service, staff training and evaluation, signage, exhibit design, and visitor research,

help review ongoing operational and maintenance costs, development costs, and resource identification,

identify resource gaps and possible efficiency gains that could be made,

identify outcomes that can be incorporated into the design of new centres,

enhance government and national reputation, and contribute to improving tourism yield.

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MINISTRY OF TOURISM: TOURIST INFORMATION CENTRES EVALUATION PROPOSAL BRIEF

Deliverables Reports The project will generate a number of reports: •

A separate report for each Tourist Information Centre evaluated providing a detailed account of the 5 evaluative criteria identified above, to be delivered within 3 months of the end of the evaluation period.

A final project report which will incorporate: • • •

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the individual data reports from each centre with an overarching executive summary looking at findings from the global dataset. detailed impact comparison between each centre across the range of criteria. the identification of best practices from all TICs evaluated across each of the evaluative criteria, and a brief comparison of these with best practices from other parts of the world. detailed methodological assessment of the processes and evaluative tools used, with recommendations on the suitability of the model. implementation guidelines taking into account the key success factors and major problems identified during the course of the project, and the methodological parameters that should be used by any end-user in implementing the model in the future. copies of all evaluation tools used in the project, including all data, multilingual data capture forms, and associated databases provided in full-access electronic format.

The ministry project management team shall be given sight of drafts of all reports 14 days before presentation deadline. Upon delivery of the reports, the ministry shall retain full ownership of all intellectual property and copyright of all outputs of the work including results, reports, evaluative tools and methodologies designed for use as part of this project. Counterpoint will not use the data generated by this project for any other purpose other than generating the detailed outputs and these outputs shall remain wholly the property of the Ministry. Counterpoint shall retain the rights to showcase the work as part of its portfolio, and to adapt or re-use conceptual items, evaluative tools and methodologies it has developed for this project for work with other clients. Presentations •

2 full presentations of each report to the ministry and meetings of wider stakeholders as required.

Suggested Next Steps leading to project confirmation (see Project Flow below) 1. Review and Q&A meeting to clarify points arising from this document. 2. Presentation of Draft Full Proposal following a letter of intent to proceed with project development. Draft Full Proposal includes the complete Evaluative Framework, and includes: • A full explanation of the approach to be used in the project • Impact areas; Outputs; KPIs; Measures; and Methodology for each of evaluation criteria • Examples of data capture forms (mono-lingual) • Data processing and analysis methodology • Assessment and justification of methodological choices • Methodological parameters and definitions around their use, including sample sizes, data collection practices etc.

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MINISTRY OF TOURISM: TOURIST INFORMATION CENTRES EVALUATION PROPOSAL BRIEF

Estimated fieldwork timeframe and scale

Note: An initial project development fee, reflecting the work of this phase, is applicable at this stage. This fee shall be offset against the final fee upon final confirmation of the project. 3. Presentation of Full Proposal following identification of actual TICs to be evaluated and a period of familiarisation. The Full Proposal includes budget indication data (which cannot be produced until the scope of the project is known). The familiarisation period serves to gather important and relevant information so that generic evaluative framework can be specifically tailored to each TIC. The Full Proposal shall include: • • • • •

Modifications (if any) in response to 1st presentation Indications of modifications in the evaluative framework as indicated by relevant information gained during the familiarisation period Detailed data capture forms (monolingual) Detailed fieldwork timeframe and scale A proposed budget and detailed justification, including: • the time (in days) to be allocated to each aspect of the study • the cost per day of the personnel to be involved • the cost for all major aspects of work • an indication of administrative costs • a suggested framework for the charging of expenses

Note: A secondary project development fee, reflecting the work of this phase, is applicable at this stage. This fee shall be offset against the final fee upon final confirmation of the project. 4. Project Confirmation, Implementation and Reporting. Project confirmation is based on reaching agreement over the evaluative framework, the project budget, the implementing framework, reporting lines, and report presentation deadlines.

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MINISTRY OF TOURISM: TOURIST INFORMATION CENTRES EVALUATION: PROJECT FLOW - PHASE: PROJECT DEVELOPMENT 1

MINISTRY ACTIVITY

Recognition of possible benefits of suggested approach

Decision to proceed: Identification of relevant Tourist Information Centres

Decision to proceed: Project Development

First Meeting • Q&A Review of Proposal Brief • Explanation of Procedures • Exploration of Expectations

Second Meeting • Presentation of Draft Full Proposal • Clarification Q&As • Feedback and suggestions

COUNTERPOINT ACTIVITY

Proposal Brief

Draft Full Proposal Development Complete Evaluative Framework, including: • Full explanation of the approach to be adopted • Details of Outputs, KPIs, Measures, and Methodology for Economic, Social and Environmental dimension of special events • Examples of data capture forms (mono-lingual) • Details of data processing and analysis methodology • Assessment and justification of methodological choices • Methodological parameters and definitions, including sample sizes and data collection practices • Estimated fieldwork timeframe and scale

INPUT

Strategic Drivers • Sustainable Development • Servicing growing demand efficiently • Cost-Benefit Analysis and Resource deployment • Increase TIC contribution to tourism yield • Efficiency gains through streamlining of procedures

Previous ministry evaluations and international ‘best practices’

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MINISTRY OF TOURISM: TOURIST INFORMATION CENTRES EVALUATION: PROJECT FLOW - PHASE : PROJECT DEVELOPMENT 2

MINISTRY ACTIVITY

Identification of relevant Tourist Information Centres

GO Decision

Third Meeting • Presentation of Full Proposal • Clarification Q&As • Feedback and suggestions COUNTERPOINT ACTIVITY

‘Familiarisation’ Research and gathering of relevant information so that the generic evaluative framework (full draft proposal) can be specifically tailored for each centre.

Full Proposal Development Complete Evaluative Framework, including: • Modifications of the Draft Full Proposal in response to 2nd meeting • Modifications to the evaluative framework to meet centre specificity • Detailed data capture forms (monolingual-lingual) • Detailed fieldwork timeframe and scale • A proposed budget and detailed justification, including: • the time (in days) to be allocated to each aspect of the study • the cost per day of the personnel to be involved • the cost for all major aspects of work • an indication of administrative costs and expenses

INPUT

Information from Stakeholders (Including but not limited to): • Management and organisational framework • Strategic objectives • Details of resources being invested to achieve these objectives • Intended, presumed or estimated outcomes and/or impacts • Previous data (if any)

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MINISTRY OF TOURISM: TOURIST INFORMATION CENTRES EVALUATION: PROJECT FLOW - PHASE : IMPLEMENTATION AND REPORTING

MINISTRY ACTIVITY

Ongoing Systems Development and Management •Stakeholder Guidelines and ‘best practices •Service Delivery Training and on-going visitor analysis

GO Decision • establish team

Pre-Evaluation(s) Meeting • Review Expectations

Centre(s) Report Presentation • Presentation • Clarification Q&As • Feedback

COUNTERPOINT ACTIVITY

Evaluation of Centre(s) • as indicated in the work-plan

Preparation of Centre(s) Report

Final Report Presentation • Presentation • Clarification Q&As • Development Opportunities • Marketing Plan

Preparation of Final Report

Provide ongoing support and marketing counsel

INPUT

Fieldwork • Data capture at centres • Data capture on-line etc.

Stakeholder Input • Centre Management • Centre Staff • Suppliers • Other stakeholders

Further developments in the field and ‘best practices’ worldwide

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Proposal for the Evaluation of Tourist Information Centres