Guest etiquette tips a winner with Chinese visitors and accommodation providers

Hanmer Springs thermal resort had a 70 per cent rise in Asian visitors over the summer peak and a tip sheet on guest ...

Hanmer Springs thermal resort had a 70 per cent rise in Asian visitors over the summer peak and a tip sheet on guest etiquette proved a big help for Mandarin speakers.

Everything from how to do dishes to where to put used tissues is covered in a new guest etiquette information sheet for Chinese visitors staying in Hanmer Springs.

Settlers Motel owner Alan Butts said in the past cultural differences had caused problems over the state of some rooms when guests checked out, but providing a tip sheet into Mandarin had overcome that. 

It politely explained that smoking in units was not permitted, and how to use kitchens and bathrooms.

Sometimes guests would rinse dishes and put them in the cupboards wet, so staff would have to go through and check they were dry. 

"Some of the early arrivals were not sure they could flush paper down the toilet, because in some places in China you can't, so sometimes they were using the bathroom bins to put things in that we wouldn't . . . from a hygiene point of view for our staff, we were a bit concerned at times," he said.

"There was quite a lot of information we couldn't get across because of the language barrier, so four or five of us accommodation providers came up with a common hit list.

"[Guests] eyes light up when they see it because it's something they can actually read.

"We've noticed a big difference in the way the rooms are left. They even come and ask us if we'd like to look at the room when they leave."

Butts said check-in was now stress-free because staff no long had to resort to hand signals to try to explain the motel charged per head, rather than per bed.  

"Now when we see a minibus of Chinese arrive we know exactly what we're doing, it's a pleasant interaction and there's lots of smiles."

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About a dozen Hanmer Springs tourist operators are part of a China Cluster set up last year to attract more Asian visitors to the resort, and ease their stay by providing information sheets, signage and a website in Mandarin.

Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa general manager Graeme Abbot said details about the locker system, changing rooms and different pool temperatures were now available in Mandarin. 

"All the things, if you were a regular visitor to Hanmer Springs, you'd do normally. [For example] most Kiwis know not to put your head under in thermal pools because of the risk of getting amoebic meningitis." 

The aim was to make the town more welcoming for Chinese tourists, and over the peak summer season Asian visitor numbers were up by 5500, a 70 per cent rise.

Abbot expected more local tourism businesses to join the cluster, and he said the group was happy to share its expertise with other areas wanting to improve services for the Asian market. 

AccommodationNZ represents 1000 members of the commercial accommodation sector and general manager Rachael Shadbolt said the Hanmer Springs initiative was a good one. 

"Good communication ensures that  the guest enjoys their stay and the accommodation provider enjoys having them.  

"It really is a case of 'you don't know what you don't know' when travelling in different countries and most people don't set out to deliberately cause offence. Having this sort of information readily available is a really proactive step."

 - Stuff

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