One of the advantages of living in a relatively small country is the opportunity to integrate our delivery of visitor experiences and opportunities.
This opportunity was seized upon by various tourism initiatives over the years, including the development of Green Globe 21, Qualmark and the gradual upgrading of i-site services.
While some of these various integrated initiatives are now in place, the same cannot be said of the development of visitor experiences throughout the country.
Travelling around with a group of savvy international visitors, one soon (re) discovers that many of our visitor experiences are essentially copies of other experiences, in other parts of the country. Just how many bungy jumps, jet boat rides, marae visits, small ship cruising and conservation experiences do we need?
All the research suggests that integrated, themed experiences are what visitors seek, remember and recommend.
What we seem to have lost is the ability to develop or re-develop new visitor experiences that are different to anything else on offer. Good attractions do just this, re-developing their core business every 2/3 years. They know the importance of attracting new and repeat business, and standing out from the crowd.
All too often small businesses pour scarce resources into marketing instead of the product development phase. If they don’t get the theme, the visitor experience and the “offer” right early on they typically struggle to survive.
Many of our smaller visitor experiences then struggle financially, partly because they can’t make an impact in a crowded marketplace. A trend emerging is the conglomeration of many of the smaller entities into one overall business unit, while perhaps retaining the smaller brands for a “point of difference”.
Perhaps visitor experience operators should look integrating their key themes and visitor “offer”. The key focus should be on developing a visitor experience “offer” that no one else can.
Ka kite ano