New Zealand will struggle to achieve the Tourism Industry Association (TIA) aspiration of $41billion in earnings by 2025 unless businesses get serious about improving visitor experiences, says an industry training specialist.
Chris Bell, a director of Customer Experiences NZ (CENZ), says TIA’s newly released national tourism plan correctly identifies the need for continuous development of visitor experiences across all sectors of the tourism market.
“However, there is presently an over-emphasis on customer service development for front-line staff and not enough for thousands of other staff who plan and provide services to a fast-changing demographic of visitors,” he says.
“The TIA plan has high expectations for tourist growth from China, yet this puts a huge onus on local operators to upskill people in order to meet or exceed visitors’ expectations.
“Without a vertically integrated industry strategy for improving our service and satisfaction levels, revenue growth will be restricted and the plan’s potential will not be realised.”
Mr Bell says the three key benefits of enhancing visitor experience are higher in-country spending, repeat visits and word of mouth recommendations.
“In recent years the industry has not fully capitalised on these growth drivers, relying too heavily on marketing and sales to attract ongoing business.
“What is urgently required now is a commitment by all tourism businesses – both large and small – to clearly understand the needs and expectations of tomorrow’s visitors.”
He says the same imperative applies to regional tourism offices and industry training organisations, just as for commercial tourism operators across New Zealand.
“Industry players everywhere need to match offshore marketing initiatives with equal attention to service delivery and quality of experience for all visitors, regardless of nationality.
“Tourism businesses committing time and resources to these needs will boost their commercial prospects as well as the industry’s performance as a whole.”
CENZ provides tourism operators with training modules and on-line services for improving visitor experiences.
For more information: Chris Bell, Tel 027 279 2360. www.customerexperiences.co.nz