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SQMC Case Study: Fungarian

How can ISO 9001:2015 be applied within the tourism industry?

In this 2nd installment of my series examining how to get it right with customer-related processes, we'll look at 'Fungarian' - a small team of language, history, arts and geography teachers dedicated to sharing the best Hungarian culture with travelers and visitors to Hungary.

They named the company Fungarian because they aim to impart the language in a light-hearted way, so that learning is a joy. They conduct their tours likewise to make them a memorable and fun event.

 

"The primary focus of quality management is to meet customer requirements and to strive to exceed customer expectations."

 

I first met Fungarian in 2013 when I decided after so many visits to Budapest to learn something of the language without engaging in long and involved language learning classes. I wanted something more like a friend to sit with me over a cup of really good coffee and cake and teach me the basics and that’s exactly what I got – even down to some of the most delicious cakes in Budapest (thank you Balazs)!

 

ISO 9001:2015 - Principle #1 (Customer Focus)

Let us remind ourselves that behind ISO 9001:2015 sits the Principle No 1 – Customer Focus. The primary focus of quality management is to meet customer requirements and to strive to exceed customer expectations.

In last week's example I described my experience of the Sofitel Chain Bridge delivering fully on this and outlining some of the actions taken by them to achieve this principle. I’m going to do the same with Fungarian, but I'll focus on different actions that can be taken to achieve this underlying, sustaining principle. The actions I shall focus on this time are:

  • 'Plan,
  • design,
  • develop,
  • produce,
  • deliver, and
  • support goods and services to meet customer needs and expectations’.

I don’t know about you, but I'd always had a bit of an aversion to organised tours. You know the ones I mean? With the guide striding out before their group of sheep, umbrella raised in the air and shouting "with me, keep up!" I think the last time I engaged in such a tour was in Ronda in Southern Spain when I took my mother, aunt and uncle for a visit. How it rained, it ran in rivers down the cobbled streets and as the guide turned left shouting "keep up, we are now visiting that church ahead…" I instead turned right and shouted to my family group, "with me, we are going for coffee and warmth!" And so we did. And so, I like to do what I want on a tour.

 

She who pays the piper... should get what she pays for!

I studied Budapest and designed my own tours which were very enjoyable, educational and fun. I stopped whenever I wanted; sat down when I pleased; jumped on the underground when it suited me, and headed back to my hotel for a foot massage; and then went back out again when the time was right... for me. Can you imagine finding a tour company who could provide the same experience but with accredited, experienced, knowledgeable, and entertaining guides, who can make you laugh out loud, to boot? No umbrellas, no groups (if you prefer not to be in a group) and the tour tailor-made to your requirements? Then imagine Fungarian. I simply describe what I'd like to the guys who make it happen, company directors Miklos Molnar and Balazs Eff, something along the lines of:

"I’d like to go to the famous coffee houses and learn about Budapest around the 1900s (at the height of its literary and artistic success), and also learn about the political discussions and planning which took place in the Kaffe Haz. Then if you could throw in some up-to-date information on the political situation in Hungary and give me some historical context on where Hungary is on its journey. Oh, and also what it was like growing up under communism. I could also use some advice about using trolley buses... And, oh yes, where are the best cake shops? And what is the word for "how much?" There you have it: Karen’s perfectly tailored tour. My day, spent with all of my needs and expectations met - nay, exceeded - and I had so much fun!

 

Integrity behind the scenes

And how was that possible? It was not rambling and unstructured – Fungarian brought to me the outcome of their well-researched, planned, piloted, timed, tried and tested, adjusted tours – their product. What sits behind this seemingly ease of flow, is also the fact that the accredited guides are also all qualified teachers, and this combination makes them an excellent resource to have with you as you explore Budapest on your own terms. I was able to visit the somewhat dubious, but interesting 8th district, which I would never have done on my own. But I was so safe and had such an interesting time with Balazs (he’s the one who knows all the best cake shops).

 

"This is a veritable feast of Deming’s Plan-do-Check-Act model of quality assurance in action."

 

And on top of this there is the flexibility of meeting where it suits me, or being collected from my hotel. They'll leave me in the shopping centre, by design, to shop and make me own way home, or deliver me right back to my door. And naturally, they're very keen for the customer's feedback: my views on all aspect of the tours. When I returned in 2015, I note that some of my 2014 suggestions had actually been implemented! Don’t you just love it when you are listened to? This is a veritable feast of Deming’s Plan-do-Check-Act model of quality assurance in action.

They even provided me with a keepsake – a photograph taken of me with a statue of Ronald Reagan – for which I shall never forgive them!

Photo credit: Fungarian