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New Zealand famil highlights growing interest as convention centres come online

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New Zealand famil highlights growing interest as convention centres come online
One of Australia’s major PCO players collaborated with Tourism New Zealand to showcase New Zealand’s skyrocketing conference infrastructure.

It’s not often that a country goes from no city-level convention centres to three world-level facilities in under four years.

In fact, as Business Events Industry Aotearoa’s chief executive, Lisa Hopkins, highlighted late last year, “at [the 2023] BEIA conference, international speaker Martin Sirk reminded us New Zealand is the last developed country to have a suite of purpose-built venues”.

Now, through considerable planning and with some incredible obstacles, from a fire to a pandemic, New Zealand is on the precipice of having all three of its new convention centres in its three largest cities open for business.

And it’s generating significant interest amongst Australian associations – so much so that since the turn of the decade, two of Australia’s best-known professional conference organisers have set up shop in New Zealand.

Arinex was first in 2020, setting up an office in Auckland, while ICMS Australasia set up an office in Christchurch in 2023.

Now Arinex has taken things up a notch, partnering with Tourism New Zealand to bring a pool of Australian association executives to New Zealand to tour all three of the new convention centres and their cities.

“Arinex has witnessed a substantial surge in interest from Australian-based associations and inbound incentive business due to the three new convention centres, coupled with New Zealand’s quality destination appeal and immersive cultural experiences,” said the head of business development at Arinex, Jessica Ferguson.

“It is for these reasons that Arinex established a base in New Zealand to best meet the needs of our clients and led to our Auckland office opening in early 2020.

“This heightened enthusiasm is driven by the prospect of greater opportunities for knowledge sharing and collaboration with Kiwi industry colleagues.

“The experiences uncovered during our famil underscore the growing synergy and potential for increased membership and impactful partnerships across the Tasman.”

New Zealand famil highlights growing interest as convention centres come online
The group outside Te Pae in Christchurch

The eight association executives on the Arinex-Tourism New Zealand famil had a tour of the still under construction New Zealand International Convention Centre (NZICC) in Auckland as well as the open centres in Christchurch and Wellington – Te Pae and Tākina. The Australian associations also connected with their New Zealand association counterparts and with New Zealand’s universities and researchers.

“As an event manager, I am now more convinced than ever that New Zealand is the ideal destination for hosting association events,” said famil delegate Amanda Frazer from the Australian Institute of Health and Safety.

“The country’s stunning natural landscapes provide the perfect backdrop for inspiring meetings and conferences. The new convention centres, contemporary venues, accommodation offerings and numerous pre and post activities and tours will ensure a seamless and memorable experience for all delegates. 

“New Zealand’s dedication to its cultural heritage provides all the essential elements for hosting events that are not only successful but also leave a lasting and positive impact. 

“Without a doubt, New Zealand has captured my heart, and I wholeheartedly believe that any Australian association would be remiss to overlook the incredible opportunities New Zealand has to offer for hosting their events.” 

Alongside the infrastructure and intellectual elements of the six-day trip, the association decision-makers also sampled experiences in each city, including sailing on Auckland’s harbour in America’s Cup yachts, visiting the Riverside Market and taking a trip on a waka – that is, a canoe or, in this case, a punting vessel – on the Avon River in Christchurch and visiting urban eco sanctuary Zealandia in Wellington.

“New Zealand offers Australasian associations a wider audience and access to new innovative content and networks, as well as the amazing activities, unique culture, and stunning scenery that attract delegates and lead to a well-attended, successful event,” said Bjoern Spreitzer, Tourism New Zealand’s general manager of New Zealand and business events.

For micenet’s February magazine, we caught up with representatives of New Zealand’s three new convention centres and the bureaus in those cities for an insight into the opportunities the new convention centres are opening up for each destination. Read the story here.

New Zealand famil highlights growing interest as convention centres come online
The group outside Parliament in Wellington

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