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New Zealand business events sector on track for sustainable growth

MEETINGS has connected 224 exhibitors from 19 regions with over 400 buyers from Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and North America.

Business Events Industry Aotearoa‘s MEETINGS 2023 winds up in Wellington today after two days packed with over 6,000 meetings, networking functions and knowledge sessions.

MEETINGS has connected 224 exhibitors from 19 regions with over 400 buyers from Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and North America.

An industry briefing featured updates from Tourism New Zealand Business Events, Immigration New Zealand, Air New Zealand, Business Events Wellington and BEIA.

BEIA Chief Executive, Lisa Hopkins says growth and collaboration have been the themes emerging at MEETINGS 2023. “With new infrastructure, more air capacity, and a collaborative culture the business events sector is a catalyst for sustainable growth in New Zealand,” she says.

Tourism New Zealand aims to bid for 90 international conferences in FY24. This follows a successful FY23 of 84 bids worth $120m for New Zealand.

Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive, René de Monchy says the business events industry globally is now in full recovery mode and there are good opportunities to attract high quality events to our shores that will benefit our economy, society, culture, and environment. “Whether its conferences that aim to improve equity for women and girls in sport, or will grow New Zealand’s sustainable agri-food-tech sector, business events contribute to our country in many ways, both tangible and intangible.

“In FY24 Tourism New Zealand will work hard to support New Zealand’s business events sector to attract business that will also grow knowledge and collaboration across many of society’s important subjects and industries. This target is reflective of the recovery of the business events sector and our aspiration for success in this market, which is New Zealand’s fourth most valuable.”

New Zealand has two brand new purpose-built convention centres in Christchurch and Wellington, and another to come in Auckland in 2025. This new infrastructure, combined with its diverse offering for smaller events and array of experiences, solidifies New Zealand’s status as a world-class conference destination.

Inspiration for hosted buyers

Visiting New Zealand for MEETINGS 2023 has been an inspirational learning curve for international buyers.

North American hosted buyer Ashley Lawson, Vice President and co-owner of Achieve Incentives and Meetings in Ohio says New Zealand’s direct air connections from North America make the destination appealing and accessible. Her direct Air New Zealand flight from Houston gave a great first impression of New Zealand, with superb hospitality, food and wine.

“The critical decision point for choosing an incentive destination is hospitality, we want the absolute best. New Zealand has a true competitive advantage. We know our clients will be embraced by hospitality and immersed in Māori culture.

“With remote working becoming so prevalent now, it’s more important than ever for teams to get together to create new memories and lasting impressions. Organisations want to leverage bucket list destinations like New Zealand to reward their staff for achievements and to bring them together face to face,” Lawson says.

Australian buyer, Becky Phu from Totem Events in Melbourne organises incentives and conference events for 50 to 500 people. This is her first trip to Wellington and she is impressed with the city. “Now we have a new option. With the harbour on the doorstep, boutique food and hospitality offerings, a rich cultural aspect, and everything within walking distance of Tākina, Wellington is a superb meeting destination,” Phu says.

“MEETINGS has opened up a world of products we now have access to, and the chance to meet local suppliers and connect face to face has been invaluable.”

Exhibitor initiatives

MEETINGS saw exhibitors from across New Zealand, including 26 first-timers, showcase their initiatives to enhance New Zealand’s reputation as a must-visit business events destination.

Hawke’s Bay unveiled its new crown as a Great Wine Capital of the World – one of only 12 globally – allowing the region to tap into international expertise, connections, resources and support from the best of the global wine industry.

Hawke’s Bay Tourism Chief Executive, Hamish Saxton says Hawke’s Bay Business Events is making the most of this prestigious achievement to demonstrate how the region’s commitment to excellence translates for business events visiting the region.

At MEETINGS 2023, the Queenstown Lakes region invited business events visitors to support the district’s goal of a regenerative, carbon zero visitor economy by 2030. A new platform, Love Queenstown enables visitors and businesses to positively impact the region through their activities and experiences by supporting local climate, conservation, and biodiversity initiatives, and allowing them to volunteer on initiatives that make a difference.

Private air group, GCH Aviation launched several new small group experiences to New Zealand’s business events market at MEETINGS, including bespoke helicopter winery tours, degustation lunches, and heli-jet experiences.

Group Marketing Manager, Caroline Blanchfield says GCH Aviation sees enormous growth potential for small group incentives in the areas where they operate their helicopters and beyond.

“Our business in Christchurch, Wellington, West Coast and Nelson has expanded and now we have spread around New Zealand with incentives groups who charter our Challenger 604 business jet to travel to some amazing New Zealand locations,” she says.

Georgina Torrington, Director of Sales and Marketing for Brook Serene Boutique Hotels, with luxury boutique properties in Christchurch, Queenstown and Rotorua, says exhibiting at the new venue Tākina in Wellington has been a superb experience. “Our diary has been filled with quality buyers looking at venues for small, boutique satellite events, private dining, VIP options and guest speaker accommodation for the next two years. They are interested in news about our renovation at The George, Christchurch and our new wing at the Regent of Rotorua,” Torrington says.

Angela Webster, National Business Development Manager for Fables Hotels and Resorts says MEETINGS has been all about meeting new customers, strengthening ties with existing clients and introducing the Fable brand to them. “All our buyers have been really receptive and MEETINGS has been the chance for them to plan and secure accommodation for large conference groups in Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch for 2024 and 2025,” she says.

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