After a year conducting assessments using the revitalised criteria, tourism business advisor Magy Evans talks about some of the challenges - and revelations - for some of the operators she has worked with.
Magy’s patch stretches from the Coromandel down to New Plymouth and across country to Taupo, Rotorua and Napier. She assesses approximately 200 accommodation providers, ranging from small bed and breakfast operations and holiday parks to motels, hotels and lodges and several venues around the North Island.
Magy returned to New Zealand a few years ago after 40 years working in just about every corner of the globe, supporting businesses through training and development. Her vast experience has proved invaluable in the past year.
“It was a massive year for us. A lot of people learned a lot of things in 2017. The new criteria and what we were asking of operators started people thinking. For some it was just about sitting down and working out how much a room is actually costing them but for others it was about taking a look at the four areas for development – health and safety, economic, environmental and social/people - and identifying where they could improve and grow."
"The new health and safety requirements were initially scary for a lot of people and when we started talking about sustainability, people just thought we were talking about the environment."
Magy knows that sustainability is about far more than just environmental criteria having been involved in many diverse community sustainability projects internationally.
“Sustainability is about telling visitors it’s a great place to be and it is not necessary to be 5 Star or even 4 Star, the most satisfying experiences come from sharing all that your local community has. Whether your guest comes from Iceland, USA or Rotorua, we all want to be part of a community, so the best accommodation providers have guests becoming a part of community they will return to or discuss with their friends in all quarters of the world."
“A lot of our work in the past year has been working alongside people and generating little tweaks of interest. It was really satisfying to see eyes start to gleam as people started to understand they could improve some things and it wasn’t so scary after all. For some, it tapped into their passion to put their money where their mouth is to and strive to get to the top end.”
Magy says: "I do find that New Zealand has what I call the ‘Be here now’ mentality although offering genuine hospitality instantaneously. There is not a lot of future planning." For Magy the starting point is enjoying your business; through an excellent understanding of time management and knowing bottom line.
For Magy, it’s all about the experience, the exchange of things. Her journeys have taken her to many diverse countries and she says she still always feels the need to ‘see it, feel it, experience it.’