2nd WEEK DECEMBER 2014
Our natural environment and unique culture provide the opportunity to make any visitor to the region’s stay positive and memorable. Much of what is required to make their stay outstanding requires little or no financial investment but rather a commitment from everyone in the community to recognise the value visitors bring to the district and a desire to exceed their expectations. After all if you were visiting somewhere what would you expect? More importantly I would suggest that this concept of being a good host, of Manaakitanga, is intrinsically linked to our region’s culture.
Many people who visit our region throughout the year and particularly over the summer months are not here as part of organised tour parties but rather are travelling independently and often to visit friends and family. For this reason they are often going to come in contact with and spend significant time in the presence of the friend and family they are visiting and who are part of the local community. It cannot be underestimated the impact these hosts can have on creating a positive impression of Northland that the visitors can then take away.
If we do this we can change the perception of how others see our district and we can positively promote why we chose to live, work and play here. There a number of things individuals and business can do to make a difference to people visiting our region. These include recommending activities and events to visitors, find out what’s happening in your own backyard and supporting local industry initiatives. Businesses in particular can consider how they deliver a ‘world class’ experiences – be familiar with what this looks like and how it relates to their business, invest in themselves and their staff, know their market – be clear on who they are trying to attract then ensure they are giving them what they want, encourage regular visitor feedback and engage in up-skilling, training and networking opportunities.
More importantly if this is to be a uniquely Northland experience, then it is essential that when we engage with visitors that we have fun, express how we love it here and provide an authentic experience that show cases the best that we have to offer. If we succeed then we will have increased our visitor numbers, increased visitor night stays and increased how much they spend. This in turn will assist the economic growth which provides opportunity and choice to all members of our communities.