symbols showing touristic activities on yellow background

Case study: researching experiences in tourism

February 18, 2016

The Alpine tourism destination Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis researched their guests’ and employees’ experience to further improve their offer.

About the destination Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis

Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis is one of the few Alpine tourism destinations which have succeeded in transferring the success story of the winter to the summer season. While many of the famous winter sports destinations are empty in summer as most hotels are closed and cable cars are not running, there is a lot going on in Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis.

The tourism destination Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis consists of three villages: Serfaus, Fiss and Ladis. Nearly one third of all 2.2 million overnight stays of the village of Serfaus are generated during the summer season. With 14,112 tourist beds in winter and 12,954 in summer the community is one of the most tour- ism intensive ones of the Austrian province of Tyrol. Serfaus with 963 overnights per inhabitant is much more tourism in- tense than comparable famous Tyrolean ski resorts like Ischgl or Sölden.

Successful tourism destination by design

The success story of this destination is based on pioneering achievement and entrepreneurial personalities as well as the willingness of all stakeholders to cooperate within the des- tination. The resort is one of the rare examples where the tourism association, the cable cars, the community, hotels, gastronomy, ski schools and ski rentals have been working closely together. For several years the tourism association and the cable cars have been operated under the same brand. After all the guest himself does not care who is responsible for the touristic product as long as it works well. And the product does work.

Designing the whole customer journey

Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis has successfully positioned itself as the leading family destination of the Tyrol and therefore tries to perfectly design the whole customer journey.

This starts with the first customer contact and further reaches from booking, information gathering before the journey to accessing the destination, the stay itself as well as the homeward journey and the follow-up phase. In order to better understand the customers‘ desires, needs, but also problems and irrita- tions, Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis uses various quantitative and qualitative tools for quality management. During the summer of 2015 the destination has also launched the pilot project “Mobile Quality Check” together with ExperienceFellow*.

Invitation to research project for a mobile quality check in a skiing resort in Austria

While classic market research tools are based on standardized question categories, this “Mobile Quality Check” for the first time offers customers a mobile evaluation tool where cus- tomers themselves can decide what, when, where and how he wants to evaluate. Therefore, customers use a dedicated app on their own smartphone as an evaluation tool. Customers can define critical moments and evaluate these on a five-point scale as well as document them in detail with photos, videos or text.

Flyer inviations to participate in a mobile ethnography study.
Flyers to invite guests to participate in the study

Conducting a mobile ethnography project

In order to spread the word about the project among guests, the destination has placed postings in all gondolas, at cable-car stations and various attractions as well as table dis- plays in mountain restaurants.

These briefly explain the project and provide information for the access process. Guests can use free WIFI in cable car sta- tions and restaurants in order to download the white-labelled ExperienceFellow* app, log into the project and start collecting data straight away while they are waiting for the cable car or for their meal. Furthermore information on the project has been provided on the website of the tourism association and the local television program.

In order to motivate guests to actively participate in the proj- ect, the destination decided to raffle a summer holiday for one week (including accommodation with half board) for a whole family in the upcoming season of 2016 in Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis.

The cable cars in Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis decided to use this new methodology of mobile ethnography because it offers them the advantage to generate more in-depth qualitative data at lower cost.
Christof Schalber, project manager at cable car Komperdell in Serfaus
geographical map showing the movement of guests in the area
A geographical map showing guest movements

Using real-time technology

The web-based software allows cable car managers to track data in real-time and thus to react to customer problems straight away.

In Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis, we use ExperienceFellow* mainly to track customer feedback instantaneously in order to detect gaps in the service chain of the destination.
Christof Schalber

A time and location stamp is automatically assigned to every touchpoint so that data can be visualized on a map. By tagging data, touchpoints can be analyzed through various filters. This filtering process allows Mr. Schalber to detect negative touchpoints on a daily basis and react to them immediately.

Instruction posters and displays for participants
Instruction posters and displays

While some customer problems can easily be solved like an overloaded hiking bus at peak hours, others are put on a list of mid- and long-term projects. By this Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis shows how important customer feedback is to them and how customers can actively contribute to improve the touristic product.

Link to Customer experience research: You will learn what customer experience research is, why it is important, how to conduct is and some methods you can use.
Check out this article if you want to learn more about customer experience research!

Customer experience and employee experience

But not only customers can be included into the service production process. Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis also uses the ExperienceFellow* app for means of employer branding. Staff members can apply the app to detect problems in the service production or create new ideas for improvement and innovation. The employee’s suggestions are analyzed on a monthly basis. This does not only improve quality but also enhance staff motivation.

Learnings and insights along the way

After the pilot phase during the 2015 summer season, the proj- ect team in Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis was able to better understand the functionality of the ExperienceFellow* app, learned how to successfully implement a project and to analyze the data. But the team of ExperienceFellow* as well had the chance to improve its offer by working together with the destination.

To realize a project with one of the leading tourism destinations of the Alps has been an exciting challenge for us. During the upcoming winter season the cable cars in Serfaus-Fiss-Ladis will use the first white-label solution of ExperienceFellow*. It will be interesting for us to see how guests use the white-labelled version of our app.
Klaus Schwarzenberger, ExperienceFellow*

Based on the pilot project, “Mobile Quality Check” was continued through the 2015/16 winter season.

Fact box

Project duration: June – September 2015

Incentive: 1 week family holiday in Serfaus during summer 2016

Number of registered participants: over 300

Number of participants who have added more than 3 touchpoints: 44

Total number of touchpoints: 370

( * ) This case study refers to our mobile ethnography tool called ExperienceFellow* which is not available anymore. For further information drop us a line at

If you'd like to learn more about what to do with your research findings, check out our article on how journey mapping in tourism can help you.

Map your experience research findings