Speaking at MEETINGS 2022, BEIA Chief Executive, Lisa Hopkins said the demand for in-person events was set to soar.
Talented people, sustainable practices, and world-class new infrastructure are key to New Zealand’s business events sector success and recovery, Business Events Industry Aotearoa (BEIA) says.
Speaking at MEETINGS 2022, BEIA Chief Executive, Lisa Hopkins said the demand for in-person events was set to soar. Government's announcement that pre-departure testing will end on 20 June is welcome news for the industry.
“With international visitors returning and the first of three next-generation convention centres - Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre - now open, New Zealand is firmly placed on the world stage. Tākina in Wellington is set to open next year, followed by the New Zealand International Convention Centre (NZICC) in Auckland, now under construction.
“Part of the drawcard of business events is where they are held. We know world-class infrastructure coupled with good international connections and support including accommodation, hospitality, and tourism make a destination well-rounded and attractive. New Zealand has it all,” Hopkins said.
“The business events sector in New Zealand declined by 78 percent in spend since 2019. The only way is up, and MEETINGS has shown there is strong demand.”
Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive, René de Monchy said the business events sector was not only set to recover, but also to thrive.
“Conference and incentive delegates are amongst the highest quality visitors New Zealand can attract. More than just economic impact, business events enrich New Zealand through the sharing of knowledge, expertise, and business opportunities leaving long-lasting legacies for communities,” he said.
“Tourism New Zealand investment will focus on Australia, China and the USA, which made up 60 percent of international tourism value pre-COVID-19 and will continue to play a major role in high value visitation.”
Lisa Hopkins said BEIA had a plan to support the development of people for the sector, with initiatives kicking off with Auckland University of Technology (AUT) and Ringa Hora Workforce Development, as well as more tactical engagements within its organisation specifically for members.
“MEETINGS has proven the need to meet in person is stronger than ever. Our work now lies in ensuring we have talented people,” she said.
In partnership with Tourism Talent, BEIA had invited students from Lincoln University’s Event Management school to tour MEETINGS, learning about the sector, and potentially introducing them to future employers.
A commitment to sustainability was paramount for business event industry and its partners, Lisa Hopkins said.
“Delivering environmentally-friendly and sustainable events is front of mind for event organisers.”
BEIA is collaborating with Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA) to bring their sustainability programmes to the business events sector. The New Zealand Tourism Sustainability Commitment aims to see every New Zealand tourism business committed to sustainability by 2025.
“At MEETINGS, the TIA team are working with the BEIA Approved Professional Conference Organisers to tailor the programme to make it relevant to the sector,” she said.
Comments from exhibitors and buyers
Exhibitor Clair Brack, from Queenstown-based Ziptrek Ecotours said MEETINGS had been great for their business.
“We have met with lots of Australians. It has been great to reconnect with people that know us as well as new clients,” she said.
“And it's amazing to experience Christchurch, and I really enjoy it so walkable and beautiful, I have loved exploring. Te Pae is amazing. I feel pretty lucky to be able to attend one of the first events in this beautiful space. And everything's running so smoothly.”
Melissa Williams, from Claudelands in Waikato said her experience at MEETINGS had been awesome.
“I have been surprised and impressed that we're talking actual events and dates and numbers and specifics. Many are using this as an opportunity to lock in some plans for the remainder of 2022, as well as looking ahead to future years.
“We have had several excellent appointments with Australian buyers, as well as strong pipeline of domestic events business, which has been really positive. I have been really impressed that buyers are aware of more of the regions throughout the country. Hamilton and the Waikato region’s reputation as a strong and tried, tested, proven, successful destination has been really well received.
Nicole Walker, from Arinex is at MEETINGS to book association conferences and inbound corporate incentive travel for her Australian clients.
MEETINGS was her first visit to Christchurch and the South Island and she was excited. There is real sense of optimism and excitement - the industry is ready to restart and get back to business.
“I had no pre-conceptions about the city, but I have loved it – it’s accessible, welcoming, compact and easy to get around, with beautiful parks and gardens. Te Pae Christchurch is an amazing venue,” she says.
Nikki Wright from the New Zealand Orthopaedic Association said learning something new and getting inspiring new ideas for her conferences and events was all possible MEETINGS. And also just reconnecting with friends and colleagues in the industry is really beneficial.
“I am looking at bookings for next year and beyond. So it's good to get some perspective and some future.
“I’ve learned so much about new regions, for example I knew nothing about the Mackenzie region and there is definite scope there. I'm so educated now.
“Christchurch has been amazing, and so hospitable. To Pae is just a beautiful, outstanding venue. I love the size of the trade hall. The catering is fantastic, and it’s in close proximity to everything. The hosting skills at the Crowne Plaza hotel, where I am staying next to Te Pae, are above and beyond, with beautiful accommodation,” Wright said.