New Zealand’s meetings and events industry must up its game to make the most of the new conference assets that are coming online, according to MBIE’s Roger Wigglesworth.
Speaking at the annual CINZ conference in Dunedin, the Tourism, Sectors, Regions and Cities team director said the industry needs to go up two gears to deliver business to the Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington venues.
He said: “It will not be good enough for this industry to use these assets for the same old events.
“We have to drive our events to a new level, at least two levels above our current levels, if we are to truly realise the value of this new infrastructure.”
There are three major new NZ venues currently underway or in the pipeline. The largest is SkyCity’s $700m development of the New Zealand International Conference Centre and Hobson Street hotel which is scheduled for completion in mid-2019.
Work is also underway on a $240m conventions centre in Christchurch which has what Wigglesworth said was the “ambitious target” for completion in the first quarter of 2020 with the first booking to be taken in mid to late 2020.
Construction of Wellington’s Movie Museum and Exhibition Centre is yet to get final approval but the “earliest opening date is very tentatively set for late 2021.”
Wigglesworth, who is retiring at the end of the year, echoed CINZ chief executive Sue Sullivan’s calls for there to be more communication about the benefit of the meetings and events sector to New Zealand.
As well as spend, the face-to-face activity undertaken in market results in deals, initiation of research and thinking and the forging of collaborations and partnerships, all of which drive economic value.
He said: “It is imperative that we start to think through how to do this well because it adds credibility to our sector.
“And it will also be needed in order to justify the government’s past, and hopefully under our new minister, continuing, investment in new conventions centres, the conference assistance programme and TNZ’s marketing of NZ as a world class international business events destination.”
Wigglesworth also gave an update into a review MBIE’s Convention Research Programme which comprises the quarterly Convention Activity Survey and the annual Delegate Survey.
He said that in response to consultation feedback, a one-off piece of research into the NZ incentives industry will be considered.
“We are thinking of putting an option to the steering committee that a one-off piece of research, like the MBIE Tourism Insights series, be initiated that gives us a snapshot that improves our understanding of the incentives sector in NZ.”