Hospitality and travel companies could learn a lot from Iceland in terms of creating a frictionless guest experience. I recently visited Iceland's capital, Reykjavik, for a four-day vacation. Although it was a short trip, it gave me a glimpse into a well-oiled tourism engine that companies should aspire to.My first stop was the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa located about 20 minutes from the KeflavÃk International Airport and 40 minutes outside of Reykjavik. The day before I arrived, I received an email from the Blue Lagoon with a video walking me through the spa.
It showed me where I could store my luggage and how to use the electronic wristband in the locker room and for purchasing food and drinks. The Blue Lagoon also provides a shuttle (for a surcharge) to take guests from the airport to the spa and back. When I arrived at the spa, I already knew where to go. An attendant in the locker room also advised us to coat our hair in conditioner to protect it from the mineral-rich water.
My other activities in Iceland--horseback riding and hiking--also included introductory emails with detailed instructions on when to expect the van that would pick us up from our hotel and how to dress (layers are best).
The hotel I stayed at, Reykjavik4You Apartments, included a full kitchen with utensils and cookware, and even a cellphone for making local calls. And the KeflavÃk airport, which is a three-time winner of the Airports Council International Best Airport in Europe award, has free Wi-Fi, luggage storage, and is easy to navigate.
It also has booths set up throughout the terminal where customers can press buttons to indicate whether they were satisfied with the service they received. There was no way for the company to follow up with unsatisfied customers, however, so it's not clear how helpful the feedback is.
In general though, the businesses I encountered in Iceland all met the first level of what Gartner Research Director Augie Ray describes as the Customer Experience Pyramid, which is "furnish information I can use." Anyone who has spent time fruitlessly searching a website for information or waited to speak with an agent knows how important this is. And some businesses, like the hotel, met the pyramid's higher levels, such as "provide what I need without me asking."
I could have been lucky and had an unusually smooth experience. Of course, other travelers will have different impressions. There's no denying that Iceland is expensive, for instance, and some might say that convenient services is the least they can offer.
But based on the many positive comments about Reykjavik and Iceland on TripAdvisor, Expedia, The Points Guy, and other travel blogs, my experience isn't very unique. If it means returning to Iceland for additional research, I think I can handle that, too.