By Brad Foster

MEETINGS, New Zealand’s annual trade show for the business event sector, ended in June with plenty of praise from exhibitors and buyers.

Free Wi-Fi in the new venue, ABS Showground in Auckland, free coffee, and free food and wine at the end of each of the two days, along with a high level of business undertaken left exhibitors and buyers at this year’s event with plenty to smile about.

Susan Sullivan, new chief executive of the association behind the event, Convention and Incentives New Zealand, gave her first MEETINGS a resounding thumbs’ up, citing good business undertaken on the show floor. She welcomed

Tourism New Zealand’s greater involvement which allowed MEETINGS to host more international buyers – 96 from Australia, and others from India, China, Japan, the US and the UK.

“We had a large contingent of international buyers and media at MEETINGS this year and they were very interested in the possibilities that New Zealand offers. North Americans, for example, were excited to learn first-hand about our incentive travel potential,” Ms Sullivan said.

“Overall it is has been a really successful couple of days. The exhibitors have had very positive feedback and have collectively conducted more than 6000 meetings and will be leaving MEETINGS with lots of business leads to follow up.

“Our international buyers have experienced some great hospitality and are leaving with a much better understanding of just how much this country has to offer as a destination, both for business events and incentive travel.

“MEETINGS has also given us the chance to offer some professional development to our own conference and incentive organisers. The masterclass we ran with [author] Jonah Nader was very well received and is part of CINZ’s ongoing commitment to providing industry education.”

One of New Zealand’s leading PCOs, Jan Tonkin, said CINZ’s initiative to stage a masterclass in association with the event added value for delegates.

“Adding an educational component to MEETINGS for me was a real drawcard. Being able to make the most of our time at MEETINGS and achieve so much in one day was invaluable. It added even more to the experience.”
Emily Liston from the Brisbane-based Medical Protection Society was similarly impressed.

“We haven’t done any conferencing in New Zealand before and this has been such an informative and productive few days. The pre-famil tour to Queenstown really sold me on the destination too,” she said.

Another MEETINGS 2014 first was The Luxury Collection, a new section of the exhibition devoted to high-end lodges, hotels, venues and catering.

Reno Verikakis of Sofitel Luxury Hotels said The Luxury Collection exhibitors’ collaboration was a great success.

“We work together across the country to promote New Zealand as a boutique destination for incentive travel, and it makes sense for us to be showcased together,” he said.

“The quality of buyers visiting our stand was very high. We had a lot of walk-ins too, with day buyers keen to book business which reflects the confidence we are experiencing in the market.”

New exhibitor Sensational Selwyn, a Canterbury regional destination, said MEETINGS gave them the opportunity to showcase the region’s unique venues, suppliers and activities to a huge range of international and Kiwi event decision-makers.

Selwyn’s Elizabeth Pitcorn says they were overwhelmed by the level of interest from buyers.

“We’ve been writing business on the floor as well as taking lots of future leads and have been really impressed by the calibre of the event organisers we have been meeting with here.”

MEETINGS 2015 will be held again at Auckland’s ASB Showgrounds on June 10 and 11.