Breaking the boundaries of benchmarking

By Henry Cuff

Benchmarking is a bit of a buzzword in the market research industry.  At BDRC Continental, we frequently work with marketing managers, all of whom want to better their brand in a busy sector. How do they do this?  Is the standard benchmarking route always the answer?

In a word, no.  There are more effective ways.

Standard benchmarking can be restrictive.  By narrowing your scope to a few similar, familiar sites, you’re setting yourself a limit to your findings and progression.

So what is the answer?

Cross-sector benchmarking can offer a fresh perspective.  Rather than simply rating your site against three or four similar venues, you would compare yourself against many more attractions from across the wider market.

The ALVA Visitor Experience Benchmarking Survey provides this opportunity.  It encompasses over 80 sites from across the UK and is growing every year.  These sites range from the V&A, to St Michael’s Mount, to the Titanic Belfast.  Our online reportal allows you to run your own analysis against the wider leisure market.  Additionally, it also shows the ‘Best in Class’ site for all aspects of the visitor experience.

In terms of actual material, it’s true that your site may be unique.  But, all venues are made up of individual components - such as visitor engagement, secondary spend and staff.  Once these are broken out, you have a sizeable amount of criteria.  All of which are directly relatable to leisure sites from all categories, from all corners of the UK.

Let’s say, you’re a marketing manager at a London heritage site, and have identified a problem with your catering offer.

The data from the chart below shows results from the ALVA survey in autumn 2015. Scores for heritage sites are the lowest of any sector.  If you were to benchmark yourself solely against other heritage sites, you would be ignoring the industry’s top performers.

ALVA bencharking chart catering ratings

In this instance, catering ratings are noticeably higher for leisure versus other visitor attractions.

The next step would be to use the ALVA reportal to see what site is the ‘Best in Class’ in the leisure sector.  You may also choose to set the data to only show leisure sites in London. Then, you may want to do some desk research, or even go to a high-performing site’s café to see what it is they’re doing so well.  And, most importantly, is what they’re doing so well something that could be implemented back at your site?

By doing this, you could be bringing something back into the smaller market that you and other similar heritage sites operate. And maybe introduce something that they may not have thought of.

Looking at the bigger picture, there are numerous examples of sectors taking the initiative and looking to learn from other sectors. My colleague Rebecca Joyner – a Director in the Transport team, recently wrote a post looking into how railway companies can learn from airlines.

To become a subscriber of the ALVA Visitor Experience Benchmarking Survey, or to get more from the data, get in touch.

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