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NZHIC: Air NZ’s Luxon inspires

Chris Luxon Air NZ EDITED

By James Wilkinson in Auckland

Air New Zealand’s CEO Christopher Luxon has encouraged Hoteliers to make sure customers are number one.

Speaking at the New Zealand Hotel Industry Conference (NZHIC) yesterday, May 30, Luxon said the industry needs to ensure customers are at the forefront of operations, something Air New Zealand has done very successfully in its 74-year history.

In his keynote speech, Luxon, who worked as a concierge for four years at Parkroyal Christchurch in the early 1990s, said, “getting back to what the customer wants is very important”.

“We have to invest in the things that customers really want,” he told the 230-strong audience at Pullman Auckland.

Luxon said the company recently changed jam suppliers, something that saved the company NZD$200,000. That money was then used to purchase mattress toppers for the airline’s business class flat bed seats on the Boeing 777-200 and 777-300 and 747-400 fleet.

He said Air New Zealand received 160 positive comments from customers and “not one complaint about the [replacement] jam”.

Luxon reaffirmed Air New Zealand’s importance to the country’s economy.

“New Zealand’s success is linked to our success,” he said.

“We want to be successful and significant,” Luxon said. “Successful in an economical and social sense.”

The CEO, who took on the role in January, also gave Hoteliers an overview of the airline’s amazing marketing achievements and how to maximize opportunities, such as Air New Zealand’s inflight safety videos – ones that have featured the Hobbit cast and directors, the All Blacks and Bear Grylls – which have been seen a staggering 30 million times on YouTube.

Also starring in those videos have been Air New Zealand’s staff, widely regarded as the friendliest in the industry.

“At the end of the day, a lot of it is about our people,” he said.

Luxon highlighted the company’s brand values of: ‘can do!’; ‘be yourself’; ‘welcome as a friend’; and ‘share your New Zealand’.

“We want to welcome people [onboard] as our friend,” he said. “We want our staff to be themselves and be genuine”.

Luxon was one of several highlights at NZHIC, with the other major one being Horwath’s John Smith’s interview with Toga Hotels’ CEO Rachel Argaman.

During that panel, Argaman talked about leadership, growth opportunities and expansion for the company, which will include three hotels in New Zealand to be announced in the coming weeks.

“We have an imminent announcement of three hotels in New Zealand,” she said. “There are also a number of other new deals we are working on.”

HM was once more a proud sponsor of NZHIC.

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