The Visitor Comes First
On February 29th Destination Melbourne made the great leap forward and launched a month long campaign to encourage the visitor industry to work on their businesses in the pursuit of excellence.
We gave www.enterpriseconnect.gov.au the newly announced Federal Government business support program for tourism businesses a big plug and invited ideas, suggestions and comments from the industry on ways we can all lift our game.
We posted blogs by Peter Blackwell CEO Club Tourism on the new Star Rating System; Ian Nicholson CEO of SSV on Accreditation; Leigh Harry CEO Tourism Victoria on Tourism Excellence; and Kate Brennan CEO of Federation Square. At the core of each opinion piece was the need to engage with our customers in new ways that build loyalty and trust.
The visitor industry is well accustomed to the sword of Damocles dangling and sometimes falling… the Ansett collapse; SARS; Bushfires; Floods; Exchange rates; Volcanic eruptions; and Online retailing are but a few of challenges we have faced in recent history. This pattern of extreme and sometimes violent events is not going to change.
Time and again when the visitor industry demonstrated resilience in the face of adversity, businesses survived and then prospered.
Much has been made of the negative impact of the online retail revolution by the big retailers. No doubt that it has taken its toll, but the real problem runs deeper than slow adoption of new technology. The underlying theme in commentary from the public is that customer service standards have slipped. Despite their massive expenditure on infrastructure, the visitor experience is not meeting expectations.
While the big retailers are lunge about blaming everyone except themselves, they are sending a negative message to consumers. There is a direct connection between providing a quality visitor experience that meets expectations and profitability. The Victorian visitor industry took nearly a decade to learn this lesson – people do not go on holiday to have a bad time. If we constantly complain and moan about our lot, people go elsewhere.
We are in the people game. More than 30 cents in every retail dollar spent in the CBD is from the pockets of visitors. Visitors provide the cash flow in our city. If the retail sector does not engage visitors, persuade people to linger longer and exceed their expectations, we will all be the poorer.
Discounting the visitor experience will provide a harsh learnt lesson in this climate. The best way to avoid the pain is by getting on the front foot – working on service capacity, building resilience in our people, paying it forward and developing meaningful relationships with our neighbours. Myer, David Jones and other leading retailers need to take heed swiftly. Melbourne’s success is founded on a culture of co-operation and collaboration. First we grow the cake together, then we fight for share.
As we continue to trade through another period of economic uncertainty it is absolutely critical that we work together to support Melbourne’s growth as a compelling destination. Yes look after No 1 (yourself!) but never forget that success is borne of a team game. The visitor must come first.