Business tourism takes off

Kim Dodds.
Kim Dodds.
Dunedin is expected to add as many as six large conferences to its business tourism calendar after its team of representatives nailed bookings that could mean millions of dollars are added to the city’s economy.

After two days of meetings at a trade event in Auckland, Dunedin Venues Management Ltd business development manager Kim Dodds said the company had five conferences lined up, two already confirmed.

The conferences would attract between 300 and 500 people each in the next few years.

Mrs Dodds said 2019, in particular, would be "a good year for Dunedin" and "it’s blinking marvellous".

Conference venue representatives from Dunedin and across Otago have been in Auckland for the past two days touting for business at "Meetings", a trade show where 195 exhibitors from 19 New Zealand regions meet more than 500 local and international buyers.

The event is run by Conventions and Incentives New Zealand (CINZ).

Exhibitors include DVML, Toitu Settlers Museum, and the Dunedin, Oamaru and Queenstown convention bureaus.

Enterprise Dunedin destination manager Ryan Craig said there had been a "significant change of gear" in interest in Dunedin from buyers.

That was in part because of recent successes in attracting large conferences to the University of Otago, but also this year’s CINZ conference in October and next year’s Trenz conference, bringing tourism and business tourism industries to the city.

Mr Craig noted fresh interest from Australia, and  appetite for incentives tourism to Dunedin. High-end  incentives tourism was  for "corporate high-fliers" on performance reward packages.

Groups of between six and 50 people travelled  in "luxury style", and required five-star accommodation costing in the region of $2000 to $2500 a night.

Mr Ryan said there were top-floor suites at three Dunedin hotels, and accommodation like Camp Estate that was suitable, but more was needed to attract larger numbers.

He said the planned new Dunedin hotel by the town hall would "enable us to have more serious conversations with that marketplace, and do business with that end of the market".

"You could expect in the future, if we had that sort of property, to cater for that end of the market."

Enterprise Dunedin business tourism events adviser Bree Jones said the conference had been a positive experience for Dunedin delegates.

"I think we’ve come a long way from even five years ago, where people were saying ‘Where’s Dunedin?’"

Mrs Jones said the talk then had been about the barriers involved, like the accessibility of the city and its infrastructure.

"Now people sit down and say: ‘I’ve heard so much about Dunedin’.

"They just want to know about the details."

That came from news about the city hosting three Ed Sheeran concerts, and the Trenz trade show.

Mrs Jones said there had already been one buyer who intended to bring an event with about 250 people to Dunedin in 2018, with just contracts to be signed before that was certain.

That was a result of bringing buyers to Dunedin earlier this year on a "famil", where they got to experience the region.

Attracting events was "a long game", with events been organised some time after first contact with buyers.

Tourism New Zealand (TNZ) yesterday said New Zealand had attracted business events that would deliver $311million to the New Zealand economy.

TNZ trade, PR and major events director Rene de Monchy said the events were secured by TNZ and the events industry over the past four years and would bring nearly 100,000 people to the country.

He said New Zealand was performing "extremely well" as a business events destination.

The estimated value from all conferences bid for and won in the current financial year to date was $39.7million, as well as an expected $33million from secured incentive business.

Also at Meetings, Air New Zealand chief revenue officer Cam Wallace said the airline expected to add another 3% capacity domestically in the next year.

He told the Otago Daily Times much of that would be between Auckland, Christchurch and Queenstown.

Mr Wallace did say, however, the airline had "quite a bit of flight flexibility", meaning it was able to service cities like Dunedin for special events.

He pointed to 52 extra flights the airline was putting on for the Ed Sheeran concerts.

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