Service Design and Tourism

Arden Beesley

Student thesis: Master thesis


Executive Summary: Today, 1 in 11 jobs are supported by the travel and tourism industry and tourism accounts for 9% of global GDP. The industry consists primarily of SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises) and is a highly interdependent industry, in which the tourism experience typically consists of a ‘bundle’ of services from different service providers. Technology has also changed the playing field by allowing customers access to ‘real time’ reviews of service quality and price comparisons, making service quality and perception of service quality the main contributing factors in the purchase decision. Because of the unique nature of this service sector, specific methods are needed to develop successful, satisfying services in the eyes of the customer, to encourage innovation and offer a means for gaining competitive advantage. Service design is such a method. This paper explores service design theory in terms of the tourism industry and aims to answer the following research question: How and why has service design been utilized within the tourism industry? The majority of the research is primary data in the form of qualitative interviews conducted with academics and professionals in the service design field. Secondary data in the form of case studies of tourism service design projects are also analyzed to supplement the findings from the interviews and resulting in a multi-­‐method qualitative research design. This paper draws on theory from service design, design thinking and from general services management. The study has shown that service design can help tourism businesses to develop innovative ideas which are more satisfying to the customer, putting their needs and desired before those of the company. Service design is a relatively new method of working many managers are not yet aware of it and can be intimidated by the somewhat messy, holistic, iterative process. However, service design as a method and field is slowly gaining respect as more and more successful case studies are shared throughout the industry. The research suggests that as service design gains more exposure and becomes better known, more tourism companies will embrace it and in turn, gain competitive advantage and improve their service offerings in the eyes of the customer.

EducationsMSocSc in Service Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2014
Number of pages82