Christchurch recently unveiled a collaborative business events unit at AIME – Business Events Christchurch – a partnership comprising Tourism New Zealand, ChristchurchNZ and Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre, with the common goal to bring more international meetings to the destination.
The first phase of operations will start in March with a brand awareness campaign aimed at audiences in Australia, in what will also be the city’s first-ever business events marketing effort. The second phase of the marketing outreach, slated for later months, will focus on Asia, beginning with Singapore.
“This is a game-changer for our city and a statement that Christchurch is back,” said ChristchurchNZ’s general manager of destination and attraction, Loren Heaphy. “(We’re) better than ever and most importantly, working with our key partners to create a unified brand and a seamless event experience from start to finish.”
ChristchurchNZ also announced they will be launching a new business events legacy investment fund in May to support the attraction of events to the city, and are working to develop a business events measurement methodology to better understand the wider economic and social impact of business events.
Meanwhile, Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre is on track to open this October, with bookings for meetings already full for 2021. At press time, 55 events have been confirmed, with another 120 in the pipeline.
Te Pae Christchurch’s general manager Ross Steele told TTGmice the centre will be targeting the associations sector, where delegates from China will play a key role in their efforts.
“China is a great source of membership rights for the association market,” he said. “Every time I talk to an association, whether they are headquartered in Europe or elsewhere, the target for them is to get the Chinese market to push their membership numbers in the longer term.”
According to Heaphy, Christchurch is now developing “with great pace”, nine years after a major earthquake devastated the city. For instance, the city will see 10 new four- and five-star hotels come online soon, adding 5,000 keys to the city. Christchurch will also be hosting its first completely carbon zero event in May with 2,000 attendees, which aligns with the city’s sustainability goals.
Still, Heaphy told TTGmice it will likely take about three years before Christchurch regains the business events market share (24 per cent) they had in New Zealand pre-earthquake.
“Currently, we aren’t on the map for business events in the way that we want to be. It’s time for the city to step up again, and put our money and our effort where our mouth is,” she concluded.