Sunset at Auckland Harbour Festival 2006. Viaduct Basin. Auckland. New Zealand

Exhibitors from throughout New Zealand have secured promising new business connections with international and local event organisers at Meetings2013 in Auckland this week (Jun 25-27).

The trade show, aimed at promoting New Zealand’s multi-million dollar business event industry to the world, has led to millions of dollars’ worth of business opportunities, organisers say.

For two days this week, suppliers and operators of a diverse range of New Zealand venues, products and services took part in Meetings 2013 at Auckland’s SkyCity Convention Centre, where were busy promoting themselves to professional conference and event organisers from Australia, New Zealand, China and South East Asia.

Conventions and Incentives New Zealand (CINZ) chief executive Alan Trotter said Meetings generated significant new business leads and a number of firm bookings.

Last year’s Meetings resulted in NZD$32 million worth of new business leads.

Partnering with Southland for the first time was a successful move, said Tourism Dunedin chief executive, Hamish Saxton.

“Conferencing, events and incentives are triggers for greater geographical travel so it made sense that we came here as a wider region. I think this sends a positive message in itself that we’re willing to work together on a macro level,” he said.

“We were exceptionally pleased with the event. It’s always an utterly relevant event for us to invest in.”

In the far north, Meetings was an ideal opportunity to take a serious look at the conference and incentives market for Waitangi Treaty Grounds, said marketing manager Glennis Morgan.

“This year has been a valuable fact finding mission, to see where we sit in the market. The event has reinforced that we are on the right track,” Morgan said.

Caroline Blanchfield, Christchurch and Canterbury Convention Bureau manager said Meetings this year had been extremely positive.

“I noticed a sea change in engagement with Australian buyers,” she said. “They’ve come for actual business, not just an update on the earthquake rebuild. Their clients want to come to Christchurch now.

“Our strategy at Meetings, of looking to the future and articulating the vision of what the Convention Centre precinct will look like, has been well received,” she said.

The Wakatipu Collection, which provides a ‘one stop shop’ of more than 20 Queenstown-based conference and incentive operators, was attending Meetings for the second time.

“We had some very good appointments, a good mix of mutual requests. It’s nice to know the buyers are motivated and that they want to come to Queenstown,” said owner Jo Weir.

Visiting conference and event organisers were equally upbeat.

Jessica Abbey from The Associations Specialists in Sydney said her first Meetings had been a great experience, in terms of meeting people and finding out about destinations.

“All the regions are really working together, not only to bring business to their regions, but also to New Zealand,” she said.

“Meetings also provided a great opportunity to reinforce relationships and meet new people. I now have an excellent network on the ground here to help with future events.”

Day buyer Janet Matheson, from Conferences and Events, said the quality of stands and the presentation had been amazing. “It’s not your average exhibition.”

Victoria Wales from HOT Events said: “As an event organiser you can’t afford not to come to Meetings. It is a two-day investment that really pays off.

“The stand-outs this year have been the hidden gems in regions like Hawke’s Bay, Palmerston North and Waikato. I’m excited about the new offering from KiwiRail for bespoke train travel and the way that works with the regional venues and operators.”

Australian-based Roger Buckley, from the Surveying and Spatial Sciences Institute, said the organisation of Meetings 2013 was outstanding.

“I’ve been able to link up with suppliers I need to see,” he said. “The Auckland-hosted famil, which preceded Meetings, was wonderful. We got a pristine taste of the real city, not just a themed venue.”

Meetings 2014 will be held at ASB Showgrounds in Auckland on June 18 and 19.