Don’t visit New Zealand unless you speak English...

 This is the message we're currently sending to visitors from our vitally important Asian growth markets.

Chris Bell - value of the customer experience

Last weekend, standing in the queue to get into one of Canterbury’s most popular attractions, I (along with many others) watched the young lady behind the counter and a Chinese couple struggling to understand each other. It brought home how totally unprepared we are, despite all the talk about delivering a quality visitor experience, to even meet the expectations of this market.

We know these visitors have high expectations; we know they have money to spend. This couple was trying hard to spend tourist dollars on upmarket products and experiences, but the resulting frustration not only from the two parties but the growing queue of witnesses reinforced the fact that we are still not developing the experience from the visitors’ perspective.

On this particular occasion the solution was simple: print an instruction sheet in the required language and this very poor visitor experience, I’m sure, could have been avoided.

The issue for the industry is not that businesses are deliberately going out of their way to deliver frustrating visitor experiences.

The real issue is that the industry is not developing a culture that is continually encouraging everyone to be thinking about the visitor experience from a visitor's perspective.

If we were, these kinds of experiences would not be happening.

A recent tourism survey found that 21 percent of departing visitors were unlikely to recommend this country to others as a visitor destination. We believe this is a conservative figure.

If what I witnessed on the weekend was happening to this couple throughout their visit, you can be sure they will be adding to this number.

Chris Bell is managing director of Customer Experiences, a New Zealand-based organisation specialising in the development of high quality customer experiences

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