The trip to Costa Rica confirmed what I have experienced and felt at a visceral level on group travel before, but was able to truly capture and demonstrate through data on this course: namely that travel is as much an emotional journey as a customer journey and often begins as a roller coaster ride of emotions and evens out towards the end of the trip, once acclimated to the new environs.
As shown in our emotion versus performance journey graph that we created as a class, emotions were very high and very low early on during the trip, reflective of the group 'getting its bearings' so to speak in a new country with new travel companions and new environments. While all of our experiences from an attractions perspective performed well emotionally speaking, the context of our travel experience - accommodations - under performed by comparison, in part due to the fact that we were also still acclimating to the new country and to each other. As the trip continued, and as reflected in the graph, performance and emotion came together and reflected more objective as well as subjective responses to the various experiences - the attractions, hotels and restaurants.
All in all, this course provided a very insightful and data-driven methodology for evaluating customer experiences. But doing so as a traveler on a group trip in a country one has never visited resulted in some inconsistent findings when objective performance is compared with emotional journey evaluations. Now that we're back in the United States and better able to analyse this data, I look forward to continuing to process the findings and show other key insights that the data will reflect.
But fundamentally I feel the trip provided us with a very unique perspective into evaluating experiences from a customer's perspective and this will be a very important skill for future career prospects as we move into the travel and tourism industry. Personally I look forward to continuing research in this field as it is the heart of the new experiential economy and provides great insight into how best to evaluate and constantly improve upon the promise of a great product: wonderful customer experiences!