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Research Toolkit: Mastering the Art of Survey Set-Up

Learning how to conduct survey research effectively not only enables you to collect high-quality data but also saves you time and money.

The luxury hospitality industry is rooted in customer experience. In this industry, more than almost any other, is it paramount to know what your customer needs and wants are so you can improve your business. The best method to do this is to receive direct feedback via surveys.

All successful surveys are easy to understand, conversational and are created with clear research goals in mind.

What is survey research?

From a research perspective, survey research is a method of measuring attitudes, opinions and behaviors' by asking people questions.

These lists of questions are created to meet a particular aim, which varies based on the context of research. The population of interest will also differ between surveys based on the researcher’s goals.

Before rushing into writing survey questions, it is important to understand the intention of the survey and how the results will be used.

Thereafter, understand how the questions will be asked is equally important, as some formats may bias respondents.

Will there be direct questions? What about categorical questions? Once the goals of your survey is established, it is easy to choose survey question types.

Survey Questions Types

Survey questions can use either a closed-ended or open-ended format to collect answers from individuals. The goal of the question and type of question determines whether it should be open or closed-ended.

Closed-ended Questions

Closed-ended questions are commonly used because they enable the survey creators to collect quantitative data which can be tallied into scores, percentages or statistics that are tracked over time.

Closed-ended questions include a predefined list of answer options.

When a topic has a clear goal, closed-ended questions perform best. Because close-ended questions offer predetermined answers only, with quantitative survey data, it is easier to categorize responses quickly and to pinpoint correlations and trends.

When it comes to surveying, the easier it is to answer the questions the better, specifically for the survey response rate. This is especially true when conducting a large-scale survey.

Open-ended Questions

Open-ended questions collect qualitative feedback, which collects customer and/or employee impressions and opinions. While these types of questions won’t always translate to easy data analysis, they do give insight into attitudes and motivations.

Open-ended questions allow customers and employees to give feedback in their own words. They’re perfect for following up on close-ended questions, so respondents can give more context for their answer.

Question Formats

  • multiple choice

  • dichotomous questions

  • ranking scale

  • Likert scale

  • matrix questions

  • ranking scale

  • click map questions

Multiple Choice Questions

Multiple choice questions are the most popular survey question type. They allow respondents to select one or more options from a predefined list of answers.

They are intuitive, easy to use, and help produce easy to analyze data, and provide mutually exclusive choices. Since the answers are fixed, respondents have a more easy, enjoyable survey taking experience.

However, predetermined answers can cause a bias in results, especially if none of the answer options apply to a respondent and therefore they make a random choice. Often this is solved by adding "other" as an answer.

Dichotomous questions

Dichotomous questions can only be answered in one of two ways (i.e., a dichotomy is the division between two things that are opposites or entirely different).

Common answers to dichotomous questions include yes/no, true/false, agree/disagree.

The short questions offer a faster survey process and analyzing. Often dichotomous questions are followed by open ended questions to avoid biasing results or allow for further understanding of the respondents experience.

Rating scale

Rating scales help determine how people feel about something. Rating can be ordinal, meaning the rating is based on a range of numbers, or based on words, i.e. very dissatisfied to very satisfied.

Net promoter score questions are a good example of rating scale questions, as they use scale to gauge how likely customers would be to recommend their product or service.

With rating questions and numerical rating scales it’s important to give the respondent context. It is necessary to explain the value of the numbers or words on your scale.

Likert scale

A Likert scale question is another type of rating scale. It is sometimes referred to as a satisfaction scale that ranges from one extreme attitude to another. It employs a 3, 5, or 7 point scale to see how respondents either agree or disagree with a statement.

It is goo d to measure opinions or attitudes on a range of topics.

Matrix questions

Matrix questions are the best options for clustering questions with the same response options. For example, a series of Likert scale questions or a series of rating scale questions can simplify a lot of content.

However, it is important to use them carefully, as very large matrices can lead to confusion and difficult to format on mobile devices.

Ranking questions

Ranking questions ask respondents to order answer choices by way of preference. This allows for not only understand how respondents feel about each answer option, but it also understanding each one’s relative popularity.

It’s important to keep in mind that ranking questions can take more time to answer. So it is best advised to use them sparingly and only if necessary.

It is also important that respondents are familiar with each answer option, otherwise results won't be accurate or honest.

Click map questions

Click map questions provide real-time, gut reaction feedback to an image. Once an image is uploaded into the survey, there are several points that are clickable, and the respondent can pick the most apt one. This type of surveying is fantastic for package or product design.

Types of surveys

There are many different methods and types of survey research in use out there.

However, the most popular and pertinent surveys for hospitality industry professionals are:

  • Questionnaires

  • Telephone Surveys

  • Face to face interviews

  • Cross-sectional research

  • Longitudinal studies


Questionnaires are the simply lists of questions for collecting information on a single subject. This narrow scope allows for easy identification of cause and effect.

Questionnaires are the most used and effective measure in studying luxury customer satisfaction, their pain points, and areas for improvement.

One of the primary benefits of questionnaires is their ability to be concise and easy to implement, and analyzed. One of the main benefits is the ability to mass produce the questionnaire to reach multiple people at a time. However, it is important to remember if it is an online questionnaire, mobile formatting and desktop formatting are key influencers of the response rate.

Telephone surveys

Although somewhat a thing of the past due to the high cost of resources needed, telephone survey allow companies to contact participants directly and allows for instantaneous feedback.

One main benefit of telephone surveys it the ability to build a strong customer relationship and brand loyalty. When talking on the phone, respondents can also be encouraged to elaborate in ways they would not when written.

Telephone surveys seem to be highly popular among an older demographic of seniors who tend to not use the internet or due to health issues, find telephone surveys easier to manage.

Face-to-face interviews

A more personal approach to research is conducting a face-to-face interview. Interviews with singular participants or groups are both viable options.

Although, these require a more strategic approach than other methods of survey research, as they can be easily derailed. This is because what, how and when questions are asked can affect the participant’s answers.

However, this means that having a strong moderator who can successfully use improvisational questions is key. Doing so can give valuable insight that you may otherwise have missed.

Longitudinal studies

Longitudinal studies are conducted over an extended period to measure change over that period. They take both quantitative and qualitative approaches but always focus on collecting data for a single subject.

For example, large companies or brands would run market research to monitor patterns and trends in their industry.

Cross-sectional research

Cross-sectional research collects observational data on a subject or phenomenon, to describe its nature. These studies do not identify a cause, they simply describe the ‘state’ of something.

For example, local governments will conduct a census merely to describe the demographics of a population.

Survey Set-Up

Once goals have been set and the method for surveying has been chosen, it is important to format the survey in a way that participants can easily understand and use the survey. Mobile and desktop formatting for online survey are paramount to determining the response rate.

The length of the survey is another factor to consider, depending on the brand or company, implementing a long survey could lead to lower lead generation or response rate but it could indicate more qualified leads or a more thoughtful response. Short surveys have a stronger response rate however, opting out of vital questions will harm the quality of the results.

When choosing format, it is important to always consider the audience, its behaviors and demographics. Younger generations tend to be inclined to answering surveys that appear in social media feeds due to their convenience and more indirect method of gaining attention.

One of the most common methods for distributing among a desired audience group is simple random sampling. This is where a population is targeted for research, and then a small sample is selected from that population at random.

Any inferences made in the study sample can then be representative of the target population.

Best practices for survey research

  1. Keep questions short and clear

  2. Be conversational

  3. Use simple and clear language

  4. Don't use double negatives

  5. Avoid jargon and acronyms

  6. Include definitions and explanations for more context when necessary

  7. Use the same language and questions across longitudinal studies.

When conducting survey research, always consider the participants’ perspective. In doing so, the majority of people will remain engaged throughout and hence, provide high-quality data.


Conducting research is key to understanding how consumers behavior and their perception of a brand. Depending on your resources, time, and consumer base, choosing the most effective survey for your research needs is important. There are many methods to surveying and it is key to conduct research effectively, as results will always provide actionable insights.

If you are interested in learning more about research and researching tools, check out our Research Tool Kit and other articles:


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