Marketing fundaments dictate we must first know as much as possible about the target market, before even considering communicating with them. Often great marketing campaigns are not imagined and executed by those actually within the target audience, rather by individuals who have a clear and informed understanding of who they are trying to influence.
So why should it be any different in the delivery of a great tourism experience? When we understand our visitors, and I mean really understand them, we have the opportunity to deliver an experience that truly exceeds their expectations. I am sure we can all recall friends or family who have raved about an amazing experience and how much it made us want to try it for ourselves.
Through understanding our markets we have a history of providing unique visitor experiences in New Zealand, specifically tailored to our visitors.
And our visitor mix is changing. Behind only Australia, China is now New Zealand's second largest source of international visitor arrivals. And it grew by a notable 14% in the 12 months to February 2014. Over this last summer Qualmark has heard from operators who have gone from never receiving a Chinese guest, to having received multiple walk-ins from Chinese in rental cars. More Chinese visitors are coming to New Zealand, and the chances are with the forecast growth, if you haven't seen them yet, you will soon enough.
However the Chinese are a different visitor group to those many of our industry have become accustomed to.
If we want to grab a share of the Chinese dollar, we must first ensure we appreciate the market and know what it is that helps them to feel welcomed and comfortable. It can start with the basics of knowing who our Chinese visitors are, where they come from (both figuratively and literally) and how they perceive the world.
This won't mean you have to completely change the experience that you offer, or compromise on things that are non-negotiable within your business. A greater understanding simply gives you more options. If you don't want to provide for the Chinese market, that is your choice. However I encourage you to make an informed decision based on a level of knowledge, and to make use of the resources that are rapidly becoming available to our industry.
Qualmark in conjunction with Tourism New Zealand is running a series of operator workshops over the coming months. While free to attend for Qualmark operators, these workshops will be providing hands on guidance in delivering great experiences to Chinese visitors. In the same vein www.chinatoolkit.co.nz has been developed as a one stop shop for useful business tools in catering for the Chinese visitor market.
Chinese FIT visitor numbers are forecast to continue to grow. Ultimately those businesses that understand the needs of Chinese market, and are prepared to deliver to them in a uniquely New Zealand way, will be the ones who benefit from this growth.