I did my work placement at my local i-SITE in Cambridge. The i-SITE is situated in the township of Cambridge it is on the corner of a major SH1 intersection with Hamilton to the north and Taupo to the south. Cambridge is centrally located and the i-SITE positioned well for access to both local residents and people passing through. Cambridge i-SITE is different in that it is connected to and part of the Town Hall. This being the case the i-SITE is responsible for all Town Hall arrangements. The Intercity and Naked bus depot is just behind the town hall and there is entry to the i-SITE from 2 sides of the building.
The Core Business structure is all focussed around the promotion and marketing of primarily Cambridge and also its surrounding districts. The strategic plan drives the BPP (Business Plan Programmes) which in turn drives the development and improvement of the i-SITE all working towards achieving the vision of making the i-SITE the information and promotional hub for Cambridge in turn making Cambridge a top new Zealand destination to visit and place to live, work, and play. The Strategic Objectives are medium to long term targets based around achieving the vision. The strategies are ways of approaching the strategic objectives, each strategy drives the development of the BPP (Business Plan Programme) hence why every strategy enables more than one strategic objective. The business plan programme is what supports the realisation of the vision
The Organisational Structure of the business is mainly controlled by its staffing, The i-SITE is co-ordinated by 7 Board Members, these are responsible for creating and re-creating the Business Plan Programme. Then there’s the i-SITE manager who is on-site 5 days a week and operates as behind the scenes and ensures the ideas of the business plan programme are followed. At Cambridge i-SITE there are 2 full time employees one working weekdays the other working weekends, one is responsible for Banklink and all the accounts of the i-SITE and the other takes responsibility for ensuring brochures and suppliers fees are current and up to date. The i-SITE in Cambridge is lucky to have close connections with the local High School and each year for the past 2 years students on the gateway programmes in high school have volunteered, it is also lucky in that there are 2 retired ladies from Cambridge who also volunteer for a day week.
Within any business there are numerous processes, here I have highlighted two of the most common which I’ve met when working at the Cambridge i-SITE.
Cambridgei-SITE does not have any customer service policies or particular practices training for the job even as an employee not just a volunteer is all learn as you go train on the job. In terms of marketing management practices Cambridge i-SITE is specifically involved in a variety of different media promotions. Every week the i-SITE is responsible for putting the What’s On? Together, this is a week by week report of what’s on in and around Cambridge, it covers a broad variety of activities to cater for a wide category of interests. This is placed in the local weekly paper. The What’s On is also broadcasted on local radio every Thursday morning recorded by a member of staff from the i-SITE. The i-SITE also sells tickets to local events such as the Melbourne Cup day at the Raceway, or the Anika Moa concert coming in November, for certain events the i-SITE is the sole ticket provider this helps with promotion of the i-SITE. Cambridge i-SITE being an i-SITE means it is a member of the i-SITE group within New Zealand so any marketing carried out by Tourism New Zealand for i-SITE NZ although not specifically promoting Cambridge it is national marketing of the i-SITE brand. The local paper plays a large part in any local marketing of the i-SITE in Cambridge there are often story on things happening at the i-SITE, in the past six months there have been several i-SITE related stories printed myself along with 3 other students working there made a story.
The i-SITE facilities consist of the building itself and therefore the Town Hall, the Car-park which only has one accesway is maintained along with the building and surrounding gardens by grounds men on a regular basis. The internet hot-spot is run by an external operator and profit is made on a commission basis. In terms of the equipment used at the i-SITE we have signs and an i-SITE logo flag which are displayed front of house daily, the i-SITE also uses several different computer programmes for different purposes we have several agent pages for booking and RESNET is the booking system of Newmans, MYOB and Banklink are accounts orientated these are updated and maintained by the suppliers, the i-SITE has a heatpump and a photocopier which upkeep is carried out when necessary, there is also a 24 hour booking system which is self operated by clients this is maintained by its supplierI Have identified 3 resources of the i-SITE the staff and volunteers bring their own knowledge and input into the business, and the suppliers being the driving forces of the business.
I have identified 3 key competitors of the Cambridge i-site, these being…The CambridgeCountry Shop - situated less than 300 metres away is a shop offering similar products. Business survival is achieved because the country shop has a much larger focus on souvenirs and “kiwiana” gifts, and less focus on information and tourist services.The internet - the internet as with all aspects of tourism has now crept in and removes the necessity for a middle man, to book flights you no longer need a travel agent, to book accommodation or tours you no longer need to use the i-site. This is overcome within the i-SITE with an internet hotspot giving customers access to the internet for a small fee. And the advice offered fom personal experiences aid people with decision making.Other i-sites (Hamilton/Rotorua) – These are the key destinations which are close to Cambridge and thus are the key competitor i-sites. However looking even from i-site to i-site there are big differences in what services are offered. Rotorua for example offers a lot more in the way of attractions and things to do and much of these arefocussed around the geothermal or Maori culture aspect.
2 Key points of differentiation about Cambridgei-SITE is its geography and proximity to Lake Karapiro which is due to play a very significant role within the next year with the arrival of the world rowing champs. It is also only 12k’s away from Maungatautari which is a large protected reserve for native flora and fauna. Cambridge i-SITE specifically has one other advantage due to geography which means it can offer a wider variety of services, being attached to the Town Hall the local council have turned all responsibility for the town hall to the i-SITE for ease of use, and access. This means the i-SITE handles the additional enquiries of use for the town hall.
Looking on a global scale there are 2 major points of vulnerability to Cambridge i-SITE and on a larger scale New Zealand tourism.The Recessionis playing a large part in tourism throughout the world. Although we are said to be out of recession the whole world is still suffering financially and will do so for sometime. It has meant there is less available income for leisure and expenses. New Zealand being situated where it is, has to the most part, lost out financially with international tourism figures dropping. Due to its geography when people come to new Zealand they come to visit new Zealand and new Zealand alone. Unlike Europe where tourists can visit all the neighbouring countries within an area on day trip.Carbon Footprint, with the dramatic increase in the save the world campaigns there has been a greater awareness about carbon footprints and ecotourism, this is something New Zealand tourism has played to the advantage with the 100% pure advertising campaign. However tourists are realising due to New Zealand’s Geography again the accessibility and the ‘size’ of carbon footprint created through long-haul flights to New Zealand is a threat to the tourism industrySeasonal Changes are another vulnerability of Cambridge i-SITE as with most tourism businesses as we will look a little furthur into…
This is a graph displaying the number of visitors who come into the i-SITE between august 07 and august 09, from this we can see that the threat of recession is although still very much apparent it is decreasing and for the majority of months the 2008-2009 figures are in most months greater than those of the previous year. You can also see where the seasonal lulls occur, in the low season may through to november we can see the figures are dramatically lower than those of January through to April. You will also notice that June has unexpectedly high figures this is due to The Fieldays which is national event which is held in Hamilton in June because of this there is a dramatically increased number of visitors to the i-SITE.
This is another graph which is a breakdown of the types of visitors who came into the i-SITE during 2008. From this you can see there is definitely a seasonal change in International Tourists which is as to be expected, the high season being January, February, March. And the low season April to October. Again this graph shows the dramatic increase of visitors in the month of June due to Fieldays, you will notice this increase is made up of local and domestic visitors. You can also see that overall the majority of people who come into the information centre are domestic and international visitors which is also to be expected.
StrengthsGeography, as already described Cambridge i-SITE is well situated to bring in both local and non-local people, with i-SITE situated on the corner of a busy SH1 intersection and opposite a food court.Services offered, Cambridge i-SITE is the only place in Cambridge to buy tickets for certain shows and events and to pay and arrange travel, accommodation and tours all in the one placeTown Hall, extra funding from council to operate the running of the Town Hall smoothlyRange of activites, Cambridge is lucky in that it has a broard range of things to do in the town itself and also in its surrounding areas, such as the local swimming pool, gardens, lake Te Koutu, Souvenir and boutique shopping, equestirian orientated activities, kayaking, boat cruises, MuseumThe Town Hall and Cambridge Township often plays hosts to numerous large scale events concerts, car shows, armistice celebrations, Agricultural shows.Equine Attraction, Cambridge is the home to many internationally famous race horses both bred and trained in the region this attracts a certain end of the tourist marketWeaknessesHistoric Building, being a historic building there is limited space for business expansion and redevelopment, currently the décor matches the external character of the building however could benefit from a redecorate which would have to stay on par with the external appearance of the buildingNo RTO promotions, Cambridge i-SITE does not have any current connections and promotions with Tourism Waikato limiting its promotional potentialCambridge i-SITE does not promote or have tourism packages based around attractions or accommodations in the region thus limiting the ease of visiting CambridgeCambridge itself has confused diversity this means it doesnt have a particualar purpose or tourism trend, like Rotorua which has the Moari culture aspect Cambridge has a mixture from adventure tourism to equestrian interest to gardens Non-Uniform, at Cambridge i-SITE there is no particular uniform as such smart dress is expected, however in other i-SITES there is a matching uniform for all staff this just makes the whole organisation more cohesive and is a signal to visitors who is able to help them.OpportunitiesPeak Season maximises potential for income with more visitors to the regionWorld Rowing Champs will bring a lot of people into the area on a global scale money can be made through commission from sales across all areasLoyalty Club many local visitors to Cambridge i-SITE do so for the purpose mainly of booking transfers on a regular basis, this could be used to the i-SITE advantage and form a loyalty club offering discounts the more a person uses the i-SITESchool Holiday Promotions, with the school holidays approaching Cambridge i-SITE could create special holiday programmes or discounts to encourage activity within and around CambridgeIncreasing Domestic Market with the aftermath of the recession it is noticable that the Domestic travel within New Zealand is increasing as it is cheaper and easier to travel this could be used to the advantage of the i-SITE because it would mean more people travelling on SH1 and therefore passing through Cambridge and the Cambridge i-SITE.ThreatsPart Council funded, the business is a not for profit organisation therefore any money it makes usually goes back into the running the i-SITE, with only 3 full time employed members of staff if the council funding were to stop, the operation of the orgainsation may tooCambridge Town Bypass, There has been talk of a bypass for years however it has now been set in 5 years the bypass will be in use, this would not be good for the i-SITE or Cambridge economy it could possibly mean losing potential profit from out-of-towners, as people who do not intend to stop will not come into Cambridge at all. Declining International Market is not only a threat to Cambrigdei-SITE however tourism within New Zealand, Many of the souvenirs and tours, accommodations and transfers sold through the i-SITE are majority sold to the international market, if this declines the future of the business does too.Diversity as mentioned the diversity of Cambridge is a weaknesses therefore it is also a threat it creates a confusion in visitors to Cambridge, with almost too much to choose from visitors simply choose to move on to the next town
From the pictures in this slide you should be able to get a sense for the environment of the i-SITE from a customers point of view, the feel and atmosphere of Cambridge i-site is very welcoming and warming. The old style fixtures, fittings and décor along with the carpeted floor create the ambience. Every customer is greeted by an i-site worker, and every customer after being given time to browse is offered assistance. The use of language at the i-site is quite informal which helps to create a friendlier atmosphere, from a visit to Rotorua i-site I noticed a difference,in Rotorua when answering the phone or greeting someone they use the term “Kia Ora” reflecting the cultural part Rotorua plays within tourism. The staff at Cambridge i-site also denote a wide cultural aspect, currently there is a number of volunteers one being german, and 2 being locally retired ladies. The background and ages of the staff, impact on the cultural environment of the business
Banklink is a process which is unique to Cambridge i-SITE and small businesses, due to the size of Cambridge i-site most of the coding for the banking is carried out by one of the staff not an independent accountant, this is due to financial constraints. Banklink is a program used to code all products sold, it allows the i-site to generate reports to ensure correct payments. Selling – Is a key component of any business especially a tourism related one. At the i-site the three main areas of selling are in tours, transfers, and accommodation. I think the key to selling is being knowledgeable of your product, this is something Cambridge i-SITE also recognise and because of this i have been on accommodation outings, and famils.
This is a graph I formed from the Qualmark assessment. The i-SITE was assessed in 7 different areas these are shown along the x-axis. In the assessment all the areas are given a mark out of 5 however each area has a different weighting on the final score. This graph shows the weighted results, where there is a greater gap between the score and maximum possible score are areas the i-SITE could work on to improve before the next assessment. Three major areas I have identified are 2.1,6.1, and 7.1
2.1 addresses the Facilities, equipment, and surrounding environment of the i-SITE, Cambridge i-SITE has limited funding so many of the points where the business failed to meet the Qualmark model are unattainable in the near future, but such ways to improve are refurbishment and updating of the facility this however has to be carried out with care to ensure the i-SITE is inkeeping with the Town Hall of which it is closely connected. Cambridge i-SITE does not use the standard computing programme ibis this is something which they could look to move toward, both of these would obviously involve evidence of budgeting to obtain these which is also something Qualmark looks for. To improve the surround of the business a traffic plan or review of the car park could improve access and visibility of the business.6.1 addresses the business management and overall performance, the Qualmark assessment was carried out early this year, which is also when the i-SITE had just transitioned through many staff changes thus could explain the business wasn’t running as smoothly as expected. However areas highlighted that they could improve in this section of assessment were application of IT so integrated booking and accounting system instead of the current very separate systems like RESNET for booking intercity and Banklink process, Evidence of performance would be another way to meet the Qualmark model, these could be in the form of customer surveys, staff training, or quality assurance assessments of the suppliers.7.1 is the Responsible Tourism Operations of the business this is something which is fairly new and being brought into all Qualmark assessments, it is addressing the sustainability of the business and its carbon impact on the environment. This is the main area where the i-SITE could improve on. The i-SITE could focus on improving its efficiency and have evidence of at least one aspect of attempts to improve such as electricity currently the building uses a heat pump however due to the age of the building it is very hard to heat and often is cold, with extra insulation or secondary double glazing on the original sash windows would possibly improve the performance of the heat pump. This would also provide evidence of efforts to try and reduce consumption. Another area Qualmark feel Cambridge i-SITE could improve would be to show evidence of contributing to 1 community effort and 1 conservation activity, Cambridge i-SITE is already very community focused, it already operates the What’s on which is specifically Cambridge based. To help with the conservation effort the i-SITE could orchestrate a mass planting of native plants around Cambridge, or they could combine with the Maungatautari Reserve and assist in fund raising.
Be the best source of info on events, attractions, accommodation and the community, actively promote Cambridge to visitors and residents. Through expert & enthusiastic staff, leisure orientated services, vibrant environment, and website all in a commercially viable manner
The Vision The i-site is THE information and promotional hub for Cambridge – a top New Zealand destination to visit and place to live, work, and play
Qualmark Qualmark is a nationally renowned and recognised tourism indication of product service and quality. A fairly new introduction for Qualmark is to assess and approve i-sites. In the local area only two i-sites are already Qualmark approved these being Te Awamutu and Matamata. The Qualmark webpage uses the phrase “assessed as trustworthy and professional - your guarantee of a successful consumer visitor experience.”
A Little Qualmark History and information Qualmark was established in 1993 it is a joint partnership between both the private sector, New Zealand Automobile Association and public sector, Tourism New Zealand. It offers two systems of quality assurance the star grading which is used for accommodation, and endorsement for all activities, transport, and services. The Information centre being a service applies to the latter of the systems. Assessments are conducted annually by a professional assessor, based on a business excellence model formed by Qualmark.
The graph above shows the increase in Qualmark endorsed companies over the last 7 years Qualmark license holders account for over 75% of economic activity in tourism in New Zealand
Improvements for Cambridge i-SITE to attain Qualmark Endorsement
What now? What are the areas the i-SITE could work on and how could these be improved? 2.1 – Facilities, Equipment, and surrounds 6.1 - Business management and overall performance 7.1 – Responsible Tourism Operations
Resources http://www.cambridge.co.nz/ http://www.qualmark.co.nz/about_us.php Interview with MareeKaati, i-SITE manager Interview with Rachel , i-SITE Consultant Cambridge i-SITE strategic plan Cambridge i-SITE Qualmark checklist