The important role visitor insights provide

The release of Tourism New Zealand's annual Visitor Experience Monitor (VEM) provides key insights into what aspects of a New Zealand holiday satisfies our visitors and where change may be needed.

As the organisation charged with enticing international visitors to our shores, we appreciate the important role research and insights about visitor experience provides New Zealand tourism operators, so they can deliver on visitor expectations once they arrive.

The VEM is one of the ways we do this. Conducted annually and surveying just over 4,500 international visitors, the research asks visitors how satisfied they were with their experiences. This provides a rich source of information across a range of areas that the industry can use to modify their business and improve the experiences it offers.

The latest results, for the period July 2010 to June 2011, are generally similar with recent years with visitors rating their holiday experience 8.9 out of 10 in terms of their overall satisfaction.

While the overall satisfaction remains pleasingly high, some decreases have shown up in certain areas - such as a 0.1 point out of 10 decrease in satisfaction with food and beverage, activities and safety.

While these decreases are relatively small they are worth noting. Some of them are easier to influence than others. A theme for 2010/11 is that our Australian visitors are spending less time in New Zealand and participating in fewer activities, in turn leading to a slightly lower satisfaction because of the strong correlation between taking part in activities and overall satisfaction.

The VEM also showed that what works for some markets, may be missing the mark for others. New Zealand tourism operators have some work to do to satisfy the high expectations of Asian visitors, particularly those from China, Japan and Korea. These markets showed satisfaction levels below those of our traditional western markets.
Armed with this information, we can start to look at ways of changing behaviour.

With almost all visitors (97 per cent) saying they had already spoken of, or written positively about, New Zealand to others, we are reminded of just how critical word of mouth is in marketing New Zealand. We want visitors to go home and rave about their experience here!  It is ultimately about the conversations our international visitors have about what they did, saw and experienced that has a huge influence on bringing more visitors to our shores.

To access the VEM visit the Markets & Stats section.

First published in Tourism Business December 2011-January 2012 issue

Kevin Bowler

Chief Executive