A two-day trade exhibition to promote the country’s business tourism and events industry has ended on a high, with many international buyers expressing keen interest in New Zealand as a conference and incentive destination.
“We had a large contingent of international buyers and media at MEETINGS this year and they were very interested in the possibilities that New Zealand offers. North Americans, for example, were excited to learn first-hand about our incentive travel potential,” says Conventions and Incentives New Zealand (CINZ) chief executive Sue Sullivan.
“Overall it is has been a really successful couple of days. The exhibitors have had very positive feedback and have collectively conducted over 6000 meetings with potential clients and will be leaving MEETINGS, and with lots of business leads to follow up.
“Our international buyers have experienced some great hospitality and are leaving with a much better understanding of just how much this country has to offer as a destination, both for business events and incentive travel.
“MEETINGS has also given us the chance to offer some professional development to our own conference and incentive organisers. The Masterclass we ran today with Jonah Nader was very well received and is part of CINZ’s ongoing commitment to providing industry education,” Ms Sullivan says.
Ms Sullivan says Tourism New Zealand’s increased commitment to MEETINGS had enabled more overseas buyers to attend the event and helped make the exhibition a very effective tool for the New Zealand industry to reach international business events decision-makers.
“We’re hoping the interest that we’ve seen expressed over the past couple of days will now translate into more conferences, business events and bookings for incentive travel coming New Zealand’s way,” Ms Sullivan says.
There were several firsts at MEETINGS this year, reflecting the interest in the industry’s potential as it moves in to an exciting phase of growth.
One of New Zealand’s leading PCOs Jan Tonkin said CINZ’s initiative to stage a MasterClass in association with the event was well received.
“Adding an educational component to MEETINGS for me was a real drawcard. Being able to do make the most of our time at MEETINGS and achieve so much in one day was invaluable. It added even more to the experience.”
Another MEETINGS 2014 first was The Luxury Collection, a new section of the exhibition devoted to high-end lodges, hotels, venues and catering.
Reno Verikakis of Sofitel Luxury Hotels said The Luxury Collection exhibitors’ collaboration was a great success. We work together across the country to promote New Zealand as a boutique destination for incentive travel, and it makes sense for us to be showcased together.
“The quality of buyers visiting our stand was very high. We had a lot of walk-ins too, with day buyers keen to book business which reflects the confidence we are experiencing in the market,” he says.
New exhibitor Sensational Selwyn, a Canterbury regional destination, said MEETINGS gave them the opportunity to showcase the region’s unique venues, suppliers and activities to a huge range of international and Kiwi event decision-makers.
Selwyn’s Elizabeth Pitcorn says they were overwhelmed by the level of interest from buyers.
“We’ve been writing business on the floor as well as taking lots of future leads and have been really impressed by the calibre of the event organisers we have been meeting with here.”
A record 96 Australian buyers attended MEETINGS this year and Emily Liston from the Medical Protection Society based in Brisbane says her first visit to MEETINGS was a really good opportunity to get a an overall feel for New Zealand and see what each of the different regions had to offer.
“We haven’t done any conferencing in New Zealand before and this has been such an informative and productive few days. The pre-famil tour to Queenstown really sold me on the destination too.”
MEETINGS 2015 will be held again at Auckland’s ASB Showgrounds on June 10 and 11 next year.