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Rugby World Cup hospitality and logistics manager Ian Crowe was in the city yesterday to discuss the expectations of international customers - 80,000 of whom are expected to flood into New Zealand in September next year for the country's largest sporting event.
He believed the actions of individuals in New Zealand's hospitality industry had the power to influence the future of New Zealand's tourism industry.
It was important to make sure they provided quality hospitality, because if visitors' experiences in New Zealand were positive, they would return and bring others, he said.
"They're going to spend a lot of money to come here, so their level of expectation around customer service and quality may be different from what is already provided.
"It's important to get [hospitality provision] right the first time, every time. There will be no second chances.
"If someone hands over cold chips and warm beer without a smile . . . the customer may leave New Zealand vowing never to return.
"That could damage our reputation for future tourism."
Mr Crowe urged Otago hospitality operators to be careful of spending vast amounts of money on changing their businesses, unless they were prepared to market it effectively.
He believed training their staff in the provision of quality hospitality should be a high priority.
The New Zealand hospitality industry would need to employ a further 10,000 qualified staff to meet the demands of the influx of visitors for the Rugby World Cup.
In a bid to provide qualified staff, the Hospitality Standards Institute was providing Business of Hospitality workshops around the country. The workshops provide practical tips to hospitality operators.
"Our focus is on getting the basics right. Don't do things too flash," he said.
"Smiling, giving friendly service, and giving the customer what they expect is what will make their visit memorable."