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On Saturday I covered the China – New Zealand Year of Tourism Launch for the NZ Herald. The last session at the event was a fascinating panel discussion about the need for tourist operators to understand the importance of technology to a Chinese visitor and how to work with their needs.

Some highlights from the panel session:

Lisa Li managing director of China Travel Services New Zealand
Lisa Li

“Technology has a huge impact on their travel choices. From seeking information, making booking arrangements and paying. They do everything on their mobile phones.”

Lisa Li managing director of China Travel Services New Zealand, talking about young Chinese millennial vistors to New Zealand
Rebecca Ingram

There’s research showing the overwhelming majority of that millennial group has not picked up a single piece of paper media in over a year.

Tourism New Zealand general manager Rebecca Ingram

“Just over two years ago we signed an agreement with Alibaba Group.

“We wanted to get value from the Chinese market while also ensuring Chinese visitors had a good experience in the country. Part of that was us supporting a roll-out of Alipay.

…only 13 percent of Chinese visitors have credit cards. If they weren’t able to transact in the way they are used to, we would be leaving money on the table and they’d have a poorer experience when they came. “

Justin Watson, Christchurch Airport chief commercial officer

“This is the first generation that has grown up with a smartphone since the age of ten. So everything they do revolves around their phones.

“If you are in the tourism business and you’re not driving visitor experiences through that channel you are going to miss out.”

Liverton CEO Justin de Lille

“In China, there can be an app that doesn’t exist one day, it launches and three months later there are 100 million people onboard.”

Tourism New Zealand general manager Rebecca Ingram

Read the full version of Technology enhances the visitor experience at the NZ Herald.

Silverdale 4.5G mobile data cell siteIf you want fast mobile data now, move to Silverdale. Spark recently installed one of the world’s first 4.5G sites in the suburb.

The tower there can handle about five times as many wireless connections as today’s 4G cellular sites. Data speeds are three, four or even five times faster than you’d see elsewhere.

It’s a taste of the future. With the right equipment, people can download at gigabit speeds, although 4.5G devices are not available yet. In a few years, however, gigabit mobile data will be the new normal.

Spark New Zealand chief operating officer Mark Beder says the company chose Silverdale for its second 4.5G site because it’s a fast-growing area. It is typical of how Auckland’s outer areas will expand in coming years as the city continues to expand.

Read the full story by Bill Bennett in the New Zealand Herald.

James RosenwaxJames Rosenwax says Auckland should focus on agility and the knowledge economy as it continues to emerge as a dynamic global city.

Rosenwax leads Aecom’s Australia and New Zealand cities practice. He recently authored a report on using innovation to transform Australian cities.

He says Auckland is already on the radar for many of the world’s major companies.

The Economist Intelligence Unit rates Auckland as the world’s eighth most liveable city. Yet Rosenwax says being seventh on the Jones Lang LaSalle Investment Intensity Index is more important.

“The JLL index is a measure of a city’s ability to attract investment from global corporations”, he says.

Read the full story by Bill Bennett in the New Zealand Herald.

Sixty-nine chief executives responded to an open-ended question as to what they would like to see from the Labour Shadow Finance Minister Grant Robertson in terms of policy.

“Continue to constrain public expenditure to core and effective services,” advised Unitec CRO Rick Ede. “Reset taxation and investment incentives to favour productive investment instead of property investment.

“Continue the investment approach to welfare services begun by Bill English.”

Many, but not all, of the themes on Robertson’s own priority list resonate with the boardroom. With 67 per cent per cent of CEOs predicting technological advances will be the single factor with the biggest impact on business in the next five years and a further 7 percent singling out job losses through technology, it is clear Robertson’s Future of Work initiative falls on fertile ground.

Read the full story by Bill Bennett in the New Zealand Herald.

Robertson’s four priorities:

• Find ways for industry to add value and diversify the economy: lift productivity and add value to primary industry and invest more in R&D.

• Focus on regional development and lift wages outside the main centres. Auckland’s infrastructure and housing is under pressure. Housing costs less in the regions but there are not enough good jobs.

• Future of Work project to address the challenge of technology-led change head-on.

• Share the rewards from prosperity: many people work hard and yet they don’t earn enough to buy a house.

“When I attend a business dinner, the conversation often turns to inequality. Many business leaders are concerned about this. They realise it can mean both a loss of potential and it can become a drain on the economy. Even organisations like the OECD, which is hardly a left-wing body, recognises that inequality inhibits growth,” says Robertson.