Meeting Newz July / August 2021

ensure they have the same ethos and are happy to share business around individual suppliers as much as possible.” She says Auckland incentives are driven around major events and that works well, particularly with plenty of choice for five- star accommodation. “Many groups are going to special one-off events, such as rugby matches. WOW (World of Wearable Arts), and music gigs. It’s busy for us – a lot is happening. Northland has been popular for business events, with a recent group of 80 spending time in the Bay of Islands and the Far North right up to Cape Reinga. On the back of this, two additional groups are eyeing this up as a destination and two groups are looking at Mt Cook later in the year.” New Zealand looks positive New Zealand had a positive response from incentive and conference organisers at the recent four-day IBTMWired virtual event, says Leonie Ashford, international bids manager at Tourism New Zealand. “New Zealand has risen to be top-choice destination, with interested buyers at the online international trade show hailing from countries including The Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, India, Dubai, Indonesia, Hungary, France and Australia. All buyers mentioned how well New Zealand had handled the COVID-19 pandemic, especially the corporate decision makers. “We acknowledge that the last 12-15 months have been a challenge for people all over the world. We are looking forward to welcoming these events and groups to our shores when the international borders are open. It’s great to have new conference venues getting ready to open in Christchurch in 2021, Wellington 2023 and Auckland 2024, plus the range of hotels and activities available is growing all the time.” “Despite the disruption of COVID-19, New Zealand’s business events infrastructure continues to grow, signalling both the importance of this industry to New Zealand’s tourism economy and recognition of the wider knowledge, networking and business benefits international events bring,” she says. SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY: THAT’S TOPS A survey carried out by Meeting Professionals International (MPI) regarding the impact of COVID-19 on the incentive industry turned up an interesting fact, reportedly backed by several aligned organisations; never has corporate social responsibility (CSR) and CSR-related in Broome, Margaret River, Hayman Island and Alice Springs. “Business events are leading the way, not just in the New Zealand and Australian markets, but globally,” he concludes. The ‘surge of enquiries’ B2B engagement agency 212F has seen from March may bear this out. Clients sometimes have a list of destinations and others are open to pitches, says GM Adam Leslie. “This is where relationships with clients are so important, along with flexible contracts to help lower risk, such as Wellington’s recent unexpected lockdown which had a direct effect on day one of an event. Most suppliers have been great to work with and understand the need to work together and be flexible. Consideration for a destination is about risk – financial risk and the risk of getting stuck [at time of writing, the trans-Tasman bubble had just closed again for eight weeks – Ed.] Australia is, of course, well set up for incentives, as is Fiji although currently not an option. Here, Queenstown is popular, and Wellington has some cool options and Taupo has also been of interest.” Adair Cameron, MD of Red-Hot Travel & Events, agrees with Norris. “Some of the smaller regions (and this is a common theme) don’t yet have the understanding of what we need in order to support their region – incentive programmes are focused on the detail, professionalism and speed of doing business. Direct flight destinations are still important and the groundwork at the other end must be reliable. You need to choose suppliers carefully to G reg Norris, director OneNineFive (Wellington) says that pre-COVID 30% of group travel was international and 70% domestic. That 30% must be satisfied by domestic travel now and he currently has groups in Hawke’s Bay, Northland, Queenstown and interest in Marlborough, West Coast, and the Far North. “A region’s capacity and capability are big factors, as well as their understanding of the incentive market and the expectations that go with it,” he says. “There is built up demand for incentive programmes to go ahead, and flexible contracts are needed for many of the suppliers coming on board in the very real chance of changes, postponements, and cancellations due to forces beyond control. Shorter lead times are another trend.” Norris also has had some interest in travel to Australia, with a group recently confirming Byron Bay. Traditionally clients only wanted to take one direct flight to a destination, says Eugene De Villiers, CEO Liberty International Tourism Group. “This is becoming more flexible with closer-to-home events, with two flights an option for some, which opens up many more destinations and experiences. Because many incentives were previously in destinations like Europe, some clients have a big budget to spend as they owe incentives to their clients and have not been able to spend that. Now they need to, and this means closer to home, shorter trips, perhaps twice per year rather than once.” However, he says he has also had interest Clients of OneNineFive celebrating their successes I NCENT I VE S ] INCENTIVES, EVENTS, AND THE NEWWORLD HEALTH ORDER Like the rest of the business events community, those involved in incentives (from organisers to clients, suppliers, destinations, and delegates) have had to adapt to the challenges presented by the COVID pandemic. A key part of this has been looking for inspiring new ideas close to home, while there has also been increased emphasis on health protocols. By JaneWarwick meeting newz [jul aug] 2021 [21]

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