Key findings from the survey undertaken
by the University of Greenwich Business School
UK Residents accounted for 78 per cent of visitors
(a very large proportion coming from London and the South East).
Overseas visitors mainly came from the USA, Australia and Europe.
The tours generally attracted an older audience (49
per cent of respondents were aged 55 and over).
Visitors tended to be well educated, with 58 per
cent of respondents having received higher (age 18+) or postgraduate
education. In terms of the socio-economic scale, a large majority
falls into the ABC1 category (77 per cent).
A very large percentage of visitors were of white/European
ethnic origin (94 per cent). It seems that the tour did not appeal
to a culturally diverse range of visitors, either from abroad
or within the UK.
Almost one third of respondents had visited the Palace
of Westminster before, mostly on guided tours or for special occasions.
People accompanied by their partners formed the largest
single category in terms of visitor groups (31 per cent).
The tour did not seem to appeal greatly to families
Only a small percentage of respondents had come as
part of an organised tour group (4 per cent).
Newspaper advertising had the greatest impact as
a means of promoting the tours.
"Word of mouth" recommendation seems likely
to be an important factor if the tours are continued as 92 per
cent of respondents stated that they were "very likely"
to recommend the tour to others.
Most visitors had come as part of a day trip from
home (71 per cent) and had largely used the train and tube network
to get to the Palace of Westminster.
A "general interest in heritage" was the
motivating factor cited by the highest number of visitors, although
respondents generally recorded more than one reason for deciding
to visit the Palace of Westminster.
Simple curiosity as expressed in "the desire
to explore a building not normally open to the public" was
a popular reason, as well as the educational value of "learning
about the history of Parliament".
Younger visitors were also particularly attracted
by the "desire to visit the centre of government in the UK".
Ticketing Process and Price
A large majority of people on the tour had experienced
no problems with the Ticketmaster ticketing process (83 per cent),
although there was a greater tendency to describe the process
as "complicated" and "inconvenient", even
Particular problems mentioned by respondents covered
a number of general areas from the impersonal nature of the system
and the length of time spent on the telephone, to difficulties
with internet booking and tickets not being sent or received in
Response to the price of tickets in terms of value
for money was extremely positive. 85 per cent of respondents described
the price as "good value for money", although some visitors
commented that concessions should be available.
A majority of visitors are happy that the Houses
of Parliament should charge an admission fee for the tours (67
per cent), and that the admission fee should reflect the costs
involved in providing the tours (66 per cent).
During the course of the survey period, a great deal
of adverse comment on the ticketing process was received from
visitors to Westminster Hall who had been unable to obtain tickets
for the tours.
Expectations, Experiences and Satisfaction
The visitor satisfaction level with the guided tour
product and the performance of the tour guides was exceptionally
Visitors in general were particularly unimpressed
with the toilet facilities.
The 'Voters of the Future' exhibition in Westminster
Hall also received a lower satisfaction rating, indicating that
either the exhibition did not meet the expectation of the tour
audience in general, or that they did not perceive it as an integral
part of the tour experience.
The majority of visitors seemed happy with the range
of gifts and souvenirs on offer, although 20 per cent of respondents
seemed not to be interested in the retail outlet at all.
Visitors were generally very happy with the overall
length and content of the tour, 91 per cent were unable to single
out anything about the tour that they had not enjoyed.
Miscellaneous comments highlighted the following
areas of dissatisfaction:
lack of seating
time spent queuing/waiting
tours not suitable for children
lack of/poor toilet facilities
Visitors felt very strongly and were very positive
about the importance of continuing to offer public tours during
the summer recess.
A very high proportion of visitors indicated that
they were likely to visit again and recommend the tour to others.
This is encouraging if tours are to be provided in the future.
In a verbal rating of their overall experience, 95
per cent of respondents rated the tour as "very good",
and a further 4 per cent as "fairly good". It seems
reasonable to assert that, over the course of the summer, the
Houses of Parliament provided a very consistent and well received