Business events power the Mighty Waikato

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When it comes to hosting business events, meetings or conferences, you can’t beat the Mighty Waikato with our region now fourth most desirable place to host, meet and learn.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment released its quarterly Convention Activity Survey and the Mighty Waikato ranked fourth behind Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch for our market share by the number of multiday business events.

So, what does this all mean to our region?

Our business event and convention market is key to the continued success of our region. Not only do conference delegates spend more than the leisure traveller, if they also have a favourable experience of a place, they will return for a holiday with family and friends.

International business delegates spend on average $326 per night when visiting Waikato and stay around seven nights in New Zealand. Domestic business event delegates spend more with an average of $535 per night and stay around three nights in the region.

Business delegates eat out, love to shop, be entertained and visit some of our tourist attractions too. They also require transport and business support services, plus help keep our venue, event and technical staff in employment.

Not only are conference delegates high value visitors, they are here to be educated, sharing knowledge and opportunities with like-minded people.

An excellent case study on why business events matter is the recent hosting of the Native American Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA) Conference which was held at the University of Waikato and Claudelands from June 26-29.

This was the first time the conference was held outside the US, Canada and Hawai’i. It attracted a record 1872 registrations from many different countries included the US, Hawai’i, Taiwan, Australia, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Mexico, Chile, Peru and Aotearoa/New Zealand. The last conference in Los Angeles hosted 1000 delegates.

Tourism New Zealand Business Events supported the conference from bidding stage to execution through their Conference Assistance Programme, along with the Convention Bureau from Hamilton & Waikato Tourism.

Professor Brendan Hokowhitu, Dean of the Faculty of Māori and Indigenous Studies at the University of Waikato, was instrumental in securing the event. The conference incorporated a community day, followed by 257 sessions from 900 presenters over three days. It is estimated that the conference could be worth $4m in economic benefit to the region – a significant injection of international visitor expenditure outside our traditional peak tourism season during the summer months.

We are fortunate in our region to have award-winning venues and facilities like Claudelands Event & Exhibition Centre and the NZ National Fieldays mega-site at Mystery Creek, plus a world-leading university, who help attract international conventions to the Mighty Waikato.

We have also recently joined forces with Dunedin Convention Bureau to launch ‘Meet North South’, a new initiative to generate business events which will benefit both regions over consecutive years. The partnership effectively solves the challenge experienced by New Zealand associations looking to hold business events for up to 500 people on a North Island / South Island regional rotation.

If there is a domestic or international conference you would love to bring to our region, please get in touch. Not only can we help with the bid process and conference delivery advice, we may be able to attract funding support for international events from Tourism New Zealand’s Conference Assistance Programme.

Find out more: www.meetwaikato.com

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Jason Dawson

Chief Executive, Hamilton & Waikato Tourism