Principles of customer service

AC 3.1 - Designing research tools


‘A questionnaire is a set of pre-arranged questions, designed to obtain information from people about themselves and their views.’

Questionnaires can be used to:

  • Find out information about people visiting tourism organisations
  • Discover information about their views, attitudes and opinions about the tourism organisation they are visiting.

Open and closed questions

Questionnaires can be designed using open and closed questions.  

Generally, closed questions either have a Yes or No answer or an answer with a precise response.


  1. Did you go to the cinema this weekend?   Yes or no
  2. How many times have you been to the cinema in the last month?  # many times 

Open questions are designed to obtain people’s opinions and usually require a longer response.


  1. What do you think of the range of refreshments available at your local cinema?  
  1. What did you think about the last film you saw at your local cinema?

Obviously, it is easier to record information obtained from closed questions than it is from open questions.  Remember this when you design questionnaires!

Activity 1

Design a questionnaire to use with you classmates to find out what they did last weekend. Use 4 open questions and 4 closed questions.  Discuss the results.

Personal information

When people get asked to answer questionnaires they do not like providing personal information, and it is often illegal to ask personal information.   To solve these problems, you can:

  • Record a person’s sex without asking them to their face
  • Record a person’s age by deciding which age group they fit into.  For example:
    • under 16
    • 16-25
    • 25-40
    • 40-60
    • 60+

In most cases, a rough idea of a person’s age will be sufficient.

  • It may also be difficult to ask people about their marital status.  However, it might be OK to ask if they are visiting alone, or how many adults and children are in the group they are with. 
  • It is also not necessary to ask a person’s address.  They could be asked to give the first three digits of their post code (e.g. CF5 or MK18).  This can give an indication of where they have come from.  Alternatively, they could be asked approximately how far they have travelled.  For example:
    • Under 10 miles
    • 10-25 miles
    • 25-50 miles
    • Over 50 miles

Activity 2

Working in pairs, design a questionnaire to be used in a car park for a National Park or Country park. You have been asked to find out where visitors have come from, what they intend to stay in the park and their use of the park. Ask only closed questions.

Activity 4

Compare the questionnaire above with the one you designed.  What are the ‘pros and cons’ of each?

Perception Survey

An alternative to asking open questions in a questionnaire is to gain people’s opinions through a perception survey.  Simply, this is a table in which people are asked whether they agree or disagree with a number of statements.

A simple example, which could be used as part of the car park survey, is shown below.               

questionaires 1

Using this technique, it is possible to obtain peoples’ opinions without having to write down individual answers.

You can refine the technique further by adding scores to each question.  This will enable you to find out which things people in the survey feel most strongly about.  An example is shown below.

questionaires 2

Activity 5

Design a perception survey with about 8 questions asking your classmates and other students about their tastes in music or their favourite sports.

As you can see, there is more to designing a good questionnaire than you may have thought at first.

The diagram below gives an idea of the process that should be undertaken in designing questionnaires.

Questionaire Design Process