Adventure capital

If incentive rewards are all about bragging rights, then New Zealand ranks highly as one of the world’s best destinations for rewards.

Lake Wanaka, New Zealand

If you haven’t already heard, Queenstown is known as the adventure capital of the world where jet boating, bungy jumping and tandem skydiving activities abound. And this town has helped put New Zealand on the map for business events, with an impressive 75 per cent current win rate for conference bids.

“New Zealand is a destination that’s on people’s bucket list, a dream destination,” said Sue Sullivan, CEO of the country’s annual conferencing event CINZ MEETINGS.

Lake Wanaka, New Zealand

“When you’re running an incentive, very often we win because we are that dream destination. Couple that with our experiences and our products, high quality of hotels, food and wine (and we’re hard to beat),” she added.

New Zealand’s reputation in the business events world is becoming more well-known. Recent data showed that the country rose four places in ICCA’s global rankings to take 12th spot in Asia-Pacific, and the 47th spot in the world.

It’s an achievement attributed to dedicated teams that collaborate in a partnership that Air New Zealand’s regional general manager for Asia, Scott Carr, refers to as NZ Inc.

“By NZ Inc I mean the airline, the tourism body, immigration and airport authorities and the government in general,” said Carr.

“We can get behind this industry in a way other destinations can’t. I think it becomes a substantial marketing difference for us as a MICE opportunity.”

Carr cites a recent incentive group win from Amway China as an NZ Inc success story, which will see 10,000 delegates visit Queenstown next year in waves of 600 people at a time, the biggest incentive business New Zealand has won to date. The win represents a NZ$50 million (US$37 million) chunk out of NZ$311 million in total conferencing and incentive business secured over the past four years.

“We want to build on that success,” said Lisa Gardiner, Tourism New Zealand’s international business events & premium manager.

“For (Amway China), this was a new model of breaking the group up into a number of waves to be able to have a great experience of New Zealand. Amway is a leader in direct selling and incentives business so we’re looking to leverage their experience and grow our incentive program profile off its back,” she said.

What the delegates will be experiencing in Queenstown is still in the works but it’s a good bet some of their activities will be adventure based. Activities such as skydiving, helicopter rides and bungy jumping can be experienced in many parts of New Zealand but are mostly concentrated in and around Wanaka and Queenstown, which are an hour’s drive apart.
The large Amyway China group also points to a trend for Asian visitors to embrace more daring incentive experiences.

“We are seeing a transition,” said Sullivan. “We’re starting to see travellers from Asia that have perhaps studied in this part of the world, or America or Europe. We’re seeing the younger ones are really keen to leap off a bridge, skydive and be more adventurous.”
The trend is confirmed by Derek Melnick, business development manager at NZONE Skydive.

When asked which Asian countries his customers hail from, Melnick said: “Singapore and Malaysia are in our top 10 markets with Indonesia emerging.”

Still, at the end of the day Sullivan insists it is New Zealand’s culture that wins bids.
“How we welcome you as a people, that is our manaakitanga (a Maori word that loosely translates to hospitality). Our culture is a strong point of difference,” she shared.

“And I find that Asians are traditionally quite spiritual people so they connect well with our culture. It’s not just perhaps exploring some caves but finding out how we’re connected to the land, how we’re protecting our assets and how we manage life around it”.

Gardiner said there’s been year-on-year increase in the interest, number of leads, and business that their international incentive team have been converting from Asia, but admits there’s still work to be done in creating awareness with the right agents.

“We need to keep growing New Zealand’s profile and the most efficient way for us to do that is to work with key incentive houses and key joint venture partners to get us in front of the right people,” she concluded.

With a defined strategy in place, people on the ground across key Asian locations like Singapore and Shanghai, and experiences in New Zealand that promise to take your breath away, that goal seems well within reach.

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