Mixed Methodology


How can we improve the onboard Dover to Calais experience?

Our brief from P&O Ferries was to gain a deep understanding of the onboard Dover to Calais experience and how this could be improved. P&O had previously researched the entire booking process and created a segmentation model to better target their customers but this did not include onboard experience.

We used a mixed methodology with virtual reality to understand the perceptions of their passengers, this included:

  • An online quantitative survey with 1300 customers that had travelled on the ferry in the last three weeks.
  • Used a values based segmentation model to gain an in-depth understanding of what the different customer groups needed to feel comfortable and safe onboard.
  • Onboard exit interviews with 600 tourists, business and freight passengers.
  • Online focus groups with 64 participants using Virtual Reality Films to immerse passengers in the experience of being onboard.
  • An online passenger research community with 100 passengers for three months to ensure that the implementation of the improvements were in alignment with passenger wants and needs.

Fundamental widely held beliefs within the organisation were overturned by the findings on frequency of travel, customer profile and party size leading to a change in customer proposition and service hierarchy.

Virtual Reality exposed a rich source of untapped insight that amplified the narrative as we were able to immerse non-ferry travellers in the ferry experience and they were able to consider it afresh. Regular ferry travellers were able to step back from the habitual stories of being onboard and re-discover the details of their experience of being onboard from their arrival on the ferry to the food court experience.

“Aviatrix conducted a bespoke customer insight programme looking at current and future needs of our passengers travelling on our Dover to Calais ferry service. The research considered how the food, beverage and retail offer were perceived by the different customer groups and how their needs varied by time of day and reason for travel. The research has been hugely beneficial to map the customer journey and understand the cultural dynamics of our passengers, identify the gaps in the current ferry experience and to ensure that we future proof ferry travel.

The research has impacted P&O as it has put the needs of the customer at the very centre of decision making for current and future ferry travel

Aviatrix’s hospitality background and market research expertise ensured that we got the very best out of this research programme and didn’t limit P&O to one research methodology. Their understanding and the clarity we now have on the different customer groups has proved invaluable. We wouldn’t have got the same level of service anywhere else in terms of their depth of understanding of the brief, the natural flair and understanding of our customers using P&O ferry services and the ability to take us on the journey that was the right path for the company. Aviatrix became an Integral arm to our department, it didn’t feel like working with a third party. It felt like working with a partner or a colleague – their intuitive approach meant that they were able to understand what we were looking for and translate it back in a way that we understood making it a perfect seamless process.

We have 100% trust in Aviatrix’s ability and they were brilliant and surpassed our expectations. This project has been the most insightful thing ever and the outputs are being used by our board as a new overarching strategy to create change in the business. Aviatrix has made the complicated simple, relevant and powerful for us to direct the business.”

Michaela Mullen, Head of Customer Experience and Becky Payton, Programme Director

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