Held in Christchurch last week, the in-person Meetings tradeshow was hailed as a triumph, as a record 211 exhibitors met with 410 event organisers from Australia and New Zealand across two days.
The event was also the perfect opportunity to kickstart business events by showing off the re-designed city of Christchurch after the 2011 earthquake, as well as the brand new Te Pae Convention Centre.
“The appetite for Australians to do business events here is strong,” said Sydney-based Leona Watson of Leona Watson Leadership Adventures.
“I think people are ready to expand beyond the borders of Australia and there’s an additional layer of confidence now that we’ve had a few months without any risk of a potential lockdown, and I think New Zealand is a very safe bet for us.”
“What I’ve also discovered (at Meetings) are some unusual regional areas with quirky little activities and adventures, which I always knew about but now I’m really diving deep into them. I’m excited by how you can just take a helicopter ride and make it into this ridiculously amazing experience, whether that’s for a group of 10 or 1,000 people on an incentive,” she said.
Another buyer revealed that some corporate groups are still playing a game of wait and see.
“The biggest concern is the airline capacity,” said Heather Coplestone, managing director of Destination Pacific Australia.
“It’s good to know that Air New Zealand is putting on additional services but it needs to increase it even more. There’s also the concern about service levels. We know New Zealanders have a can-do attitude and they’re very capable, and they’ve been very truthful in sharing with us what they can and can’t do, which is encouraging,” she said.
Air New Zealand is currently operating at 40 per cent of its pre-Covid international capacity, with plans to increase this to 65 per cent by next month. Meanwhile, capacity to Australia is at 50 per cent capacity with expectations this will bump up to 70 per cent in July.
“People are keen to come and they’ll come quite quickly,” said Leonie Ashford, Tourism New Zealand’s international bids manager.
“There’s real demand that you can feel from offshore incentive business because (companies are looking) to reward their employees,” she added.