The most important aspect for the international research commissioner to concentrate on is to prepare a very clear statement of what information is wanted and why, how, when and in what circumstances it will be used. This will form a key framework to check that the right questions are asked of the right groups of people with a suitable methodology and an appropriate sample size to give reliable and, most importantly, comparable information for the purposes specified.
For example, a French leisure developer is currently considering investing in building a development on a piece of land available on one of the Caribbean islands. He knows that the British have a particularly strong reputation for market research, and has commissioned a research company in London to guide his decisions. He wants to know what kind of facility to build to give him the best return on his investment. The information he needs is:
■ Which countries are already the major tourist markets for this island?
■ Which other countries have good access, where a market could be developed? What do travellers from these countries want from their leisure time?
o Active leisure, e.g. scuba diving, sailing, golf, excursions? o Passive leisure: sunbathing, reading, films, television, shows and entertainment? o Special interest leisure, e.g. talks, lectures, guided sight-seeing, 'leisure learning'?
■ What standard and type of accommodation should be provided, e.g. fully serviced hotel, budget hotel, self-catering apartments or individual villas?
■ What standard and type of cuisine will be needed, e.g. haute cuisine, 'international' cuisine, silver service or buffet style?
And so the questions go on. The answers will probably need analysis to produce a balanced mix of business that will attract visitors from a number of countries, wanting different styles of leisure pursuit, accommodation and cuisine. The aim of the research will be to guide practical decision making about the style and operation of the facility, so that it is successful in satisfying the requirements of an appropriate mix of customers who will coexist successfully. The greatest danger for a mixed leisure facility is that one set of customers drives away another set. The greatest risk is to aim for only a single set of customers whose preferences may change, or who for reasons relevant to their home country simply stop arriving._
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