Tourism is on a roll in Rotorua, New Zealand, and John and Kitty Davis are right in the middle of it. Literally.
They own Best Western Braeside Rotorua, just a few minutes’ walk to many major tourist attractions, and have witnessed the rapid evolution of the beautiful lakeside city’s tourism industry over the past few years.
“We have seen a dynamic change in terms of the people travelling in New Zealand – the face of tourism has changed,” he says.
“There are a lot more tourists from China, South Korea and Southeast Asia, although I think Australia is still our biggest international market.”
It’s an exciting time to be in tourism, he says.
The city of 65,000, spectacularly located on the shores Lake Rotorua, has never been busier with more than three million visitors during 2016.
Best Western Braeside Rotorua has grown lock-step with the local tourism industry and has been consistently in TripAdvisor’s Top Ten Hotels for the region.
“We bought it as an investment and renovated what was a very rundown piece of real estate, added a conference centre, bar, restaurant and another four rooms,” says John.
“We see this as a boutique hotel with special features. There are 11 outdoor spa pools attached to the rooms, a mini golf course and a beautiful trout stream running through the property.”
It’s an easy stroll to Rotorua’s major attractions including the Skyline complex, Rainbow Springs nature park, Mitai Maori Village and the Rotorua Heritage Farm.
“We’re right in the middle of it all.”
John and Kitty became involved in the hospitality industry after many years working abroad.
During that time John rose through the ranks of Johnson & Johnson, becoming Regional Director of Asia-Pacific for the global bio-tech giant.
In this capacity, John engaged with doctors and pharmacists but rarely dealt directly with the true customers – the patients – as they were always one or two steps removed.
Now they are in the front-line and he loves the connection with new people and cultures. Unlike the health care industry, the customers are on holiday and generally happy and relaxed.
“One of the things we enjoy about the hospitality industry is that immediate direct feedback. Feedback gets broadcast straight away, that’s been a real eye-opener.
“You can act on it quickly and then move forward to improve customer service, the quality of rooms and property facilities. The key is adjusting quickly to your customer needs and striving for continual improvement as the face of tourism changes.”
He adds, “People on holiday are in a totally different frame of mind. We and our staff always take an interest in where they come from and really enjoy engaging with them. It’s very different from our previous life.”