CINZ: NZ experience economy ‘ahead of the pack’

Deborah Sexton at CINZ 2017. Image: Clive Copeman

New Zealand is ‘ahead of the pack’ when it comes to tapping into the shift to an experience economy according to Professional Convention Management Association president and chief executive Deborah Sexton.

Speaking at the CINZ conference in Dunedin, Sexton said that the experience economy is having a huge impact on travel, and more specifically the meetings and business events sector.

“This bleisure world, which is business and leisure, well it seems to me that New Zealand invented bleisure because that’s what you have, and you offer so beautifully and so easily when someone comes to your country.

“No longer are business trips left alone, that is a trend that is continuing to grow, and that is combining business and adding leisure on to that, which is very very important.”

Chicago-based Sexton added: “Everything about New Zealand in my opinion is an exciting experience. This is where you are ahead of the pack, and is where you can do so much, and this is what people want.

“And it’s not just walking on glaciers and bungy jumping, there is an element that wants that, but it is the beauty of the country that you have, and how easy it is to get from one place to another. You don’t have to take a whole day to get from A to B, everything is very easy.

“That’s where bleisure comes in, and you have an exciting opportunity” in terms of attracting events and also bringing this experiental economy into events or conferences to create “a-ha moments”

The comments came as part of the global meeting industry strategist’s conference keynote which outlined four major global shifts that the international meeting industry is grappling with, and how they affect New Zealand.

Along with an experiential shift, Sexton listed geopolitics and safety, competition for talent and the power of cities as the top four trends affecting the international industry.

In terms of geopolitics and safety, which could be hurricanes, typhoons or terrorism, Sexton said while this is having a dramatic effect on the ability to take people from one region to another. she was adamant the industry would not stop travelling.

And NZ is in a strong international position in terms of safety, being ranked as the 13th safest destination globally, which “bodes well for bringing regional groups together”.

What it does mean is that risk management planning has become of the utmost importance and must be constantly reviewed as “being prepared and adaptable is critical”.

It is also where the development and use of digital technology around meetings comes into play with Sexton again adamant that digital events will never replace face-to-face.

Instead she encouraged the exploration of digital events, which she said broaden audience and in time grow face-to-face attendance, and added that venues must be up to scratch in terms of digital capability.

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