Identify Key Needs and Get Specific!
Before developing a discussion guide for a focus group on travel, it is essential to distinguish between priority issues and problem topics. The former are points that will elicit specific and valuable insights for the client; the latter are irrelevant points likely to lead participants into meandering and superficial discussion.
How can you tell the difference? In a recent study conducted by SIS International Research on airport purchasing behavior, for instance, a client was interested in understanding international travelers’ attitudes towards shopping in airports. More specifically, the client wondered whether passengers see an advantage to buying items in airports as opposed to in their city of destination, and if so, which items in particular do they perceive this way?
To extract this information, these groups were designed with a heavily visual structure. Throughout the discussions, respondents were shown photos of shopping areas in airports, airport shopping brochures, and other value messages currently distributed at arriving terminals. By keeping respondents focused on a visual prompt, the moderator had an invaluable tool at his disposal. Instead of allowing participants to offer up general accounts of their travel experiences, these visual aids helped keep the discussion focused on their attitudes towards airport shopping, and their reactions towards the shopping environments and value communications displayed in the photos.