New Zealand knows its strengths, and when it comes to business events, it plays to them. Collaborating closely with its world-class academic institutions and field experts, the country is securing major international conferences and events time and time again.
Tourism New Zealand (TNZ) business events and premium manager Lisa Gardiner says a country’s sector expertise is now more powerful than ever before.
“The international business events market is becoming increasingly competitive, and conference organisers are beginning to look for more than just a venue when deciding where to hold their event,” she says.
New Zealand’s main areas of expertise are agribusiness, high value food and wine, earth science, marine science, aviation and health science, with TNZ focusing its efforts on securing conferences that fit into these areas.
“We work in close collaboration with world class academics and universities across the country to identify opportunities and support them to bring conferences to New Zealand,” says Gardiner.
“We also have strong partnerships with a range of specialist research centres that help us remain informed about the projects they’re working on and potential conference topics that may come out of them.”
TNZ’s research partners include The Royal Society, Callaghan Innovation, the Cawthron Institute in Nelson, and the Ministry of Primary Industries.
“We have worked on a number of successful conference bids with these partners and often hold partnership workshops with them to show them how they can grow their international profile through hosting conferences,” says Gardiner.
TNZ also works closely with Conventions & Incentives New Zealand (CINZ) to attract the right conferences to the right region. CINZ chief executive Sue Sullivan says working together is important in a small country like New Zealand.
“Our role is to help tell the stories of regional strengths and diversity and build relationships within the sectors,” she says.
“We work constantly to educate our members about opportunities and help make these connections.”
Gardiner says the benefits of securing international conferences go well beyond just economic impact.
“We focus our efforts on securing conferences that fit within these specialist areas as they contribute value to New Zealand through knowledge, which in turn helps to grow these industries and create more jobs,” she says.
“The academics and experts we work with spend a lot of time attending conferences overseas and are keen to bring their peers and colleagues to New Zealand to experience our take on their field of speciality.
“It makes sense that we utilise this expertise to attract international conferences that generate flow on benefits for the economy that go well beyond economic value. Hosting international conferences also helps to build strong, ongoing linkages for future research partnerships, investment and knowledge exchange.”
Sullivan says combining business events with knowledge sectors helps to build a profile for New Zealand’s tertiary institutions, while highlighting the unique qualities of each city and region.
“Having strong tertiary and research institutions gives us exciting destinations to attract business,” she says.
“Strong conference programmes attract delegates, and New Zealand combines knowledge centres with opportunities for field trips to unique locations, as well as exciting pre- and post-conference programmes.”
This collaborative approach also leads to more regional diversity and ensures each city can benefit from business events.
“New Zealand has specialist hubs around the country and each comes with passionate people who want to tell their expert stories,” says Sullivan.
“Think of Christchurch and think of construction, steel, concrete. Rotorua and geothermal activity, mud and forestry come to mind. Waitomo and caving. Mountains and flying for the Queenstown and Wanaka regions.
“There are numerous areas of excellence that come with a story, a person and a place. This combination can’t easily be replicated anywhere else in the world.”