How Sept-Îles maps the cruise guest experience

At Sept-Îles in Quebec, Canada, a shared framework is being harnessed to ensure the needs of visitors are met by every service provider

How Sept-Îles maps the cruise guest experience
Destination Sept-Îles has taken extra steps to tailor to each and every visitor (Image: Optik 360)
This article was first published in the Itinerary Planning Special Report 2017. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

It is no secret that the success of a destination depends on the quality of the experience offered to visitors. With the explosion of new cruise destinations, there is an urgent need to innovate to help stand out from the crowd.

To help achieve this, Destination Sept-Îles has implemented an efficient framework based on service design and adopted a philosophy that may be the key to developing sustainable destination experience.

In a town of 25,000 inhabitants like Sept-Îles, the tourism industry is very interdependent and resources are often limited. Partnership therefore becomes the core value for development. The challenge of delivering a consistent experience involving many different service providers is easier when partners can genuinely visualise their contribution.

Service design methodology helps improve hospitality service by exploring guests’ motivations. This helps tailor customer-oriented product development and increases the understanding of their needs. The new framework provides visual tools and different ways to consider development by making the process of service delivery visible and tangible.

When it comes to destination development, controlling processes requires a strong holistic view. It means recognising the importance of the interactions between different services and service providers, helping to ensure a high-quality experience for cruise guests and garner sustained community involvement.

Over the past year, Sept-Îles has set several development tables in a co-creation mode, including multidisciplinary partners from the tourism sector, as well as economic, entrepreneurship, cultural and community areas. By participating actively in these different sessions, stakeholders have the opportunity to share their knowledge with others, to provide feedback and ideas, and to acquire new skills. This has ultimately led to a better understanding of their role within the cruise industry and their positive local impact.

Tour operators and cruise lines were also engaged in this process by providing specific and essential ethnographic data to target personas and create relevant experience scenarios and storytelling.

Mapping guest journeys across the complete hospitality process helps to include all the steps of the service delivery, such as specific touchpoints, interactions and every option a cruise guest would interact or engage with during a typical day ashore. With a visual tool to hand, stakeholders involved in the service loop can share the same vision and common service promise for the destination.

With the creation of detailed service blueprints for each department, Sept-Îles’ local development team increased its strategic thinking by anticipating guests’ needs, identifying problems and pain points, and highlighting innovation opportunities within the service experience. Moving forward, management teams will be better placed to develop and implement communication strategies, focus development team efforts, empower local staff and tour guides, and provide an easy-to-use framework for self-assessment.

The team is now ready to expand the concept of service design to crew member amenities and shore excursion experiences. Destination Sept-Îles is convinced that this innovative approach will increase the destination’s competitiveness, enhance profit for cruise lines and maximise local economic and social benefits from the cruise industry in the region.

With record cruise seasons anticipated for both 2018 and 2019, Sept-Îles is confident about sustaining growth over the coming years by putting people first and engaging cruise guests so that their experience exceeds their expectations and triggers emotions like never before.


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Sean Dudley
By Sean Dudley
17 January 2018

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