Meeting Newz Septeber / October 2022

Q: Congratulations on recently celebrating your 17th year at Ellerslie Event Centre. How do you stay passionate about your job? Thank you – it doesn’t feel like 17 years but there you go. I think the variety I enjoy within my role is a real perk. The wide range of events we see means that every day is different, and this has enabled me to stay fresh despite that 17-year tenure. As an example, one weekend we have coming up later this year sees a formal dinner, wedding, music festival and raceday all scheduled to take place over the course of two days – it’s all go, but absolutely helps keep that passion alive. I do also have to acknowledge the people I work with and more specifically, my team who go above and beyond. It really helps when you’re surrounded by great people. Q: With the removal of the ‘traffic light’ system this month, it finally feels like we’re starting to see the effects of Covid-19 lift. From your insider perspective of the event world, is this filtering through yet? We can absolutely feel that positivity and confidence coming back. Even before the removal of the traffic light system, we were seeing a real resurgence of private events in particular, to the point where we had our biggest July on record. We’re also seeing a lot of bookings for large birthday celebrations and weddings – many of which I think have been made by those unfortunate people whose big days were cancelled and/ or moved. It’s great they are finally able to celebrate. The corporate market has been a bit slower to come back, but I think the removal of event size restrictions and vaccine and mask mandates will see conferences and bigger meetings pick up further. Q: Can you tell us what’s new at Ellerslie Event Centre? We’ve got a few things on the go at the moment. We’ve just re-launched a newlyrenovated space called the Goldstar Room which is available for hire and features a large deck overlooking the racecourse grounds and a custom wooden bar that forms the centrepiece to the space. We’ve just refreshed our packages for the upcoming summer and festive seasons and we’ve welcomed two new faces to our account manager team in the past month or so. We are also excited to be hosting our first ever music festival within our stables space (these are normally held elsewhere within the grounds) which we hope will encourage others to look at the many and varied spaces we have available with fresh eyes. It’s great to see someone’s vision come to life in a way others might not expect. Q: We’ve seen some work taking place on the racetrack that forms part of the event centre grounds. Is this affecting ‘business as usual’ for you and your team? Not at all. The upgrade of the Ellerslie track is a large project being undertaken by the racing side of the business and there won’t be any racing on-site for the next 18 months or so. It isn’t affecting the event centre operations and, in fact, that lack of weekend racing means we’re actually able to host more weekend events, giving us more freedom and scope to develop other areas like Christmas parties and private events such as weddings and birthdays. Q: What are you most looking forward to from a professional perspective this year? I’m really looking forward to seeing the event centre come back to its normal operating model and levels. All signs are positive and we’re ready for the challenge. Another focus of the business is sustainability and it’s an area I’m keen to develop this year. We’re in the midst of an audit at the moment and, once complete, will be embarking on a raft of improvements from a social, economic and environmental perspective. Watch this space. We have also recently acquired a second racing venue – Pukekohe Park – and it’s exciting to have a new venue to learn and discover. I am relishing the challenge of that now that Ellerslie is so familiar. FIVE MINUTES WITH CRAIG FENWICK [ AUCKL AND CRAIG FENWICK EXECUTIVE GENERAL MANAGER ELLERSLIE EVENT CENTRE Tote on Ascot Feature bar in the centre of Ellerslie Event Centre’s new space, the Goldstar Lounge [32] meeting newz [sept oct] 2022