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Conference confidence coming back to Christchurch

Conference confidence coming back to Christchurch

June 24, 2014

Christchurch is back in the game as a serious conference destination, following high interest from visiting Australian and international event organisers at New Zealand’s top business tourism trade exhibition last week.

Christchurch & Canterbury Convention Bureau (CCCB) Manager, Caroline Blanchfield says the Christchurch and Canterbury team were delighted at the positive response they received from buyers (conference organisers and event managers) at MEETINGS 2014.

CCCB was exhibiting with nine of its partner venues and suppliers at the country’s key annual business events expo in Auckland.

Prior to the MEETINGS event, CCCB and its partners hosted eight influential Australian event organisers plus a key industry journalist on a familiarisation tour to Christchurch and Hanmer Springs.

“They were impressed by what they saw and heard from us. There is a positive attitude from the Australians we saw emerging last year. This year it has stepped up a gear and there is real business to secure,” she says.

The familiarisation tour participants were selected for their potential to bring conferences to Christchurch. Their clients included urban design, health, agriculture and education conferences and this was a chance to update them on all the conferencing and touring options the region had to offer, Ms Blanchfield says.

Last week Christchurch won a bid to host the 20th Pacific Association of Quantity Surveyors (PAQS) Congress, which will bring 400 delegates to Christchurch in May 2016 with an estimated $1.2 million direct spend. The Bureau partnered with Tourism New Zealand Business Events and the New Zealand Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NZIQS) to secure the rights to host the conference.

“We will work closely with Tourism New Zealand Business Events to ensure all the business leads from MEETINGS are converted into conferences for Christchurch,” Ms Blanchfield says.

“Due to their size and exhibition requirements, some of these conferences will need the facilities of the new Convention Centre. The lead times on these larger events are within the standard three to five years rotation, so if we have a confirmed Convention Centre operator to work with soon we should be able to get most of these bids across the line,” she says.

CCCB was joined at the two-day MEETINGS exhibition by Vbase, Continental, Hotel Ashburton, and Heritage Hanmer Springs.

Also joining the Canterbury delegation were new exhibitors Rydges Latimer Hotel, Moveable Feasts, Mashina Functions and Entertainment venue, Sensational Selwyn, and Hurunui Tourism.

The Sensational Selwyn team, representing the diverse conferencing and group touring options of the district, not only fielded many conference enquiries but also booked business during the event.

“As a result of our participation at MEETINGS we secured one conference in October for a national company for 350 delegates and have at least six leads for New Zealand and Australian conference and event opportunities which are a great fit for the Lincoln Event Centre,” Centre manager Ginny Bowden says.

Christchurch Casino joined CCCB to showcase its new entertainment and functions venue Mashina at MEETINGS.

Marketing manager Charlotte Bendall says not only did they meet with hosted buyers they also received day buyers enquiring about the new venue and how they could work to meet their needs.

“Attending MEETINGS was a first for us and overall it has been successful with getting us in front of the right people with enquiries already coming through,” she says.

Christchurch and Canterbury achieved runner up for best regional stand at MEETINGS 2014, presented by Promag, publishers of Meeting Newz magazine. Judges praised Christchurch and Canterbury for its design and its people.

“We admired the clean design and layout, but what really impressed was the positivity of the people on the stand. They presented a great message - ‘it is about time you came back’,” they said.


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