In January of 2017, the Guam Visitors Bureau (GVB) contracted Market Research & Development, Inc. (MR&D) to conduct three Survey of Tourism Attitudes among Residents (STAR) surveys. A major indicator of the public’s assessment of the benefit of tourism in the 2017 STAR survey was the belief that wages, benefits and opportunities provided by businesses in Guam’s visitor industry were better than other businesses. The 2017 survey measured only the attitudes of residents and did not identify specifically how people that work in the industry feel. GVB was interested in exploring what was important to the people in the industry, particularly industry frontline supervisors and local private and public stakeholders. The research team wished to compare the opinions of these people within the tourism industry with those of residents.
The MR&D Approach
The first focus group consisted of eight tourism industry frontline supervisors who had daily contact with visitors. This group was asked to discuss firsthand experiences with issues regarding tourism on Guam. The group also explored their perception of visitor feelings towards Guam, issues regarding employment in the tourism industry, opportunities for better wages and advancement provided through tourism, perception of GVB marketing, and impacts of improving public transportation, military realignment, and the legalization of marijuana.
The second focus group was made up of six private and public stakeholders representing local government and business interests. These stakeholders were asked to review GVB’s role in supporting and developing tourism. They also discussed the impact of the tourism industry on the economy and community, the best measures to gauge resident satisfaction with Guam as a tourist destination, the efficacy of the government’s investments in the industry, and the impact of the military build-up and the legalization of cannabis.
The focus groups revealed the thoughts and opinions of individuals in tourism, who had either direct contact with visitors or involvement in the decisions that affect the industry. They discussed their views on issues, such as perceptions of visitors, employment wages and opportunities within the tourism industry, improvements in safety and security, and the role of GVB. At every stage during the project cycle, from mobilization to close-out, MR&D maintained a regular rapport with GVB team to ensure that information objectives were accurately represented in the research design and achieved during the implementation of the study. MR&D has established a solid reputation of fair dealing and transparency with the GVB.