Chinese lessons have immediate benefits
Training that helps connect with Chinese tourists has already paid off for one Auckland Airport retailer.
Cafe and Bar operations manager, Davide Teixeira, attended a training session paid for by the airport that helps employees interact more effectively with Chinese visitors. It included education in Chinese history, customs and language.
Mr Teixeira tried out some of his newfound knowledge the day after attending the session with great success, pushing an extra $500 through the cash register.
He had more than 30 members of one tour group trying out the cafe's food and drinks, all because he invited some of them to try the establishment using basic Chinese.
"It's had a fantastic impact on the team. A happy customer brings 10 back," he says.
Spotless Services national manager, David Allott, who oversees Mr Teixeira's cafe operation, also did the training and says it gave some valuable insights into the psyche of the Chinese tourist.
"What is our norm compared to their norm? How do we train our staff to get that understanding?"
Mr Allott says in China "there's no such thing as a queue" and people are very vocal in expressing themselves because of the sheer number of people.
"It's what you have to do to get what you want in a retail environment in China," he says.
Mr Allott is thrilled the training is already paying dividends for the company.
GSM Retail general manager, Grant Knox, who owns the Vodafone store in the international terminal, also praised the training.
"The Chinese appreciate if you make an effort, even if it's humorous for them," Mr Knox says.
It's important to make a good impression, with so many Chinese people visiting New Zealand, he says.
"You feel quite responsible when tourists like the Chinese get off the plane.
"Other than Customs [officers] we're the first people they meet."
Mr Knox has noticed more Chinese tourists coming through his shop in the past couple of years and started producing information in Mandarin as a result. That includes an explanation of what 111 means and how area codes work.
Both GSM and Spotless are working on how best to integrate the new knowledge into training programmes for staff members.
Airport aeronautical commercial manager, Glenn Wedlock, says up to 30 per cent more Chinese visitors are arriving in Auckland each month compared with last year.
"These workshops will provide staff across the board at Auckland Airport with increased knowledge of how best to interact with our Chinese visitors, ensuring that we in turn provide the best possible travelling experience for them."
Airport operations staff, Customs, Ministry of Primary Industries employees and the police have also attended the training sessions.