Attracting international business, events and leisure travellers


Following another unusual tourism summer season, Hamilton & Waikato Tourism (HWT) and our operators are now in the thick of the ‘trade season’ – when we actively market the Mighty Waikato to the world.

‘Trade season’ refers to the time of year when we market and sell our region, products, services and new visitor experiences to the travel trade – wholesalers, inbound tour operators, travel agents and online retailers. The travel trade plays a significant role in attracting international visitors to New Zealand and the Waikato region by encouraging travelers to spend more time exploring what we have to offer.

Following the pandemic, independent travellers are still organising and planning their own trips directly online, however the travel trade remains important in reaching larger numbers of potential international visitors, particularly in our long-haul markets such as Europe, United States, Canada, China, Japan and South America, plus our number one visitor market, Australia. By establishing relationships with key operators and agencies, and engaging a mix of distribution partners, we help our region and tourism operators tap into an effective channel to market and reach target consumers.

At the same time, our team are engaging with the conference, meetings, events, exhibition and travel incentive sector, talking about the benefits of meeting and doing business in the Mighty Waikato. 

The 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 but evidence also indicates they are likely to return for a holiday with family and friends if they have a favorable experience while attending their conference.

Key events that form foundations for this time of year include the eXplore trade show being held in Auckland, TRENZ (Tourism Rendezvous New Zealand) in Christchurch and MEETINGS in Wellington.

The eXplore show is one of the largest trade events for NZ-based inbound tour operators, wholesalers and travel agents. This year’s event was the first back since 2019 due to the pandemic and included more than 100 tourism businesses from across the Central North Island exhibiting their experiences, accommodation and tours to over 180 travel trade representatives.

Joining HWT from the Mighty Waikato were 11 operators including Hobbiton Movie Set, Discover Waitomo, Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari, Riverside Adventures, Hamilton Gardens, Novotel Tainui Hamilton, Castaways Resort, The Red Barn, Cornerstone Alpaca, Spellbound Waitomo and Hidden Lake Hotel.

This show is a key activity of Explore Central North Island (ECNI) which is a marketing collective of eight regions including Hauraki-Coromandel, Bay of Plenty, Tairawhiti-Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay, Ruapehu, Great Lake Taupo, Rotorua, and Hamilton & Waikato. We work together to actively promote our regions and experiences to international tourism trade – a strong force which positions the best of the North Island.

After four years, the most significant international business-to-business travel trade event on New Zealand’s tourism events calendar, TRENZ, is returning.

The expo will attract hundreds of buyers from across the globe ranging from established markets like Australia, the USA, UK as well as emerging tourism markets. Each exhibitor will undertake over 50 15-minute meetings over three days.

Trade ready operators in attendance alongside HWT include Hobbiton Movie Set, Discover Waitomo, Waitomo Adventures, Roselands Resort, Hamilton Gardens, and The Red Barn. 

MEETINGS is the only national tradeshow in New Zealand for the business events industry.  

Held in June each year, this two-day event brings together hundreds of buyers and sellers of conference and incentive travel, from across NZ, Australia and further afield to grow mutual business events opportunities and share knowledge and ideas. 

The Mighty Waikato will be there in force in 2023 with Claudelands Conference & Exhibition Centre, Novotel Tainui Hamilton, Discover Waitomo, Hamilton Gardens, Hobbiton Movie Set, Jet Park Hotel Hamilton Airport, The Red Barn and our HWT business events team all attending. 

Feedback from the travel trade and business events buyers continues to be positive about the Mighty Waikato as they are excited to build or renew relationships, hear about the new products and experiences emerging across our region. Our region is well positioned to take advantage of our growing popularity as a ‘must-visit’ destination on traveller itineraries and business events calendars, and we continue to work hard to maximise the positive economic and community benefits that our visitors bring to the Waikato.


About Author

Nicola Greenwell

Interim General Manager, Hamilton & Waikato Tourism