Hospitality Business September 2021

Page 15

GUEST EDITORIAL

Business Events NZ Catalyst to Reconnection

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By Lisa Hopkins, Chief Executive Business Events Industry Aotearoa (BEIA)

demonstrated that the domestic sector t the time of writing, New had life. Zealand is experiencing its In June 2021, we staged our premier first nationwide lockdown in over 170 days. event MEETINGS, New Zealand’s largest events trade show which When we think back to March played host to both Australian and 2020, with all the uncertainties New Zealand buyers. With 150 eager and unknowns, this does feel very exhibitors, the buyers were able to different. Back then, business events experience a sense of optimism within (conferences, conventions, meetings, the industry, which was built on trade shows and incentives) were confidence. During two days of trade, considered a super-spreader, and we $74M was secured in future business were a little like the round peg in a events, an exceptional result by square hole as far as Government was anyone’s standard. concerned. We were tourism, but not The issues in Australia have meant quite. We aligned in many ways with the much-anticipated trans-Tasman hospitality, but not quite. We had bubble is at risk. But thanks to much in common with inbound extraordinary loyalty from the tour operators, but not quite. domestic buying community So, we made a conscious “During two days and the tenacity of the decision to forge our sector, some great business own path during the of trade, $74M was has been secured for the pandemic, by staying secured in future short to medium term. focused on our sector, and That brings us to this partnering with the many business events, an moment in time and a associations we felt a exceptional result by sense of knowing kinship with. This kept us what in the conversation, while anyone’s standard.” at the same time, staying very clear on direction. It also meant that as an industry, we could continue to Convention centres provide operate, albeit with some changes significant channels for both to the norm. When Tourism New hotels and hospitality. Zealand was given the remit to focus on the domestic sector, we knew this would work well for us, given most business events in New Zealand are domestic in orientation. International opportunities tend to be the more lucrative and higher value component. To do that, we had to reconnect the industry with a pure domestic market. In December 2020, we held BE Reconnected, a trade show which brought together buyers and exhibitors to simply network and check in on each other. Approximately $6M in business was placed during this day and

to do, what to expect and how to proceed. Of course, the Delta variant is much more unpredictable, but we can move forward as a sector. Aside from a more accelerated vaccination programme, there is much to be future-focused about. Te Pae Christchurch will open this year, the first of three significant investments in conference-specific infrastructure which will be world leading. Along with Tākina in Wellington and the NZICC in Auckland, we see these convention centres as important channels, supporting both the hotel and hospitality industries, given most business events occur during the week and use these services. The weekend enables attendees to experience the city or region they are visiting. Business events is the catalyst for much of the visitor economy. Effective communication has underpinned our engagement with Government. Taking an approach which has been solutions-focused has reminded Government of the importance of our sector in terms of the high-value visitor it attracts, and its intrinsic contribution to the economy and community. Business events plays a significant role in New Zealand’s recovery. Tourism New Zealand has named it as one of its top four focus markets, along with Australia, USA, and China. Our reach is broad, and our influence is significant. Solutions driven, innovative and creative, business events will be one of New Zealand’s strategic tools as we look to reengage with the world. n

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