New Zealand's only trade show for the business events industry in
2020 attracted more than 420 attendees on 1 December, underscoring
pent-up demand for physical meetings.
Organised by Business Events Industry Aotearoa (BEIA), formerly known
as Conventions and Incentives New Zealand (CINZ), BE Reconnected saw
more than 290 buyers connecting in-person with 120 suppliers, which BEIA
chief executive, Lisa Hopkins said will "go some way to support
"Ours is a multi-billion-dollar industry with far reaching impact,
and business events will play a critical role supporting economic
recovery. This event gave us, as an industry, an opportunity to
reinforce to clients our commitment to New Zealand’s Events Sector
Voluntary Code and demonstrate all the practical ways it could be
Under this Code, contact tracing and best practices for hygiene
standards were strictly adhered to for the event, held at Aotea Centre
Every attendee scanned a contact-tracing app on arrival, before
walking past a thermo-imaging camera to enter the show floor. Delegates
were given individually-packed lunches and disposable cups for drinks,
while staff managed self-check-in kiosks to reduce over-crowding.
Free masks were also given to those who wished to wear one at the
event, although those who arrived by air, or public transport were
required to wear a mask while travelling. To reassure attendees, a
'Safety Measures' icon on the BE Reconnected Event App displayed all the
safety practices implemented during the event, which included a St John
first responder on-site for the entire day.
Ultimately, the event revealed the pent-up desire and value New Zealanders put on face-to-face meetings.
“We were reminded that in our professional industry, nothing is left
to chance, and best-practice safety and hygiene can still make for an
enjoyable, relaxing and inspirational event," Hopkins said. "After a
year when we learned all about creating virtual and hybrid events, we
all agreed nothing beats meeting face-to-face in a space where everyone
feels safe and engaged.”
At the event, a survey by Tourism New Zealand (TNZ) of 125 local
organisations showed that 97% are planning to hold a business event in
2021, with 92% stating in-person conferences and offsite meetings are
important for their organisation — up from 79% in May 2020.
"The appetite for meeting is coupled with an increasingly positive
attitude towards business events. More than half (56%) said they
appreciate the importance of face-to-face meetings more now than
pre-Covid-19, up from 39% in May," said Lisa Gardiner, business events
global manager, TNZ.
From the floor, out-of-town delegates, such as Jessica Ireland from
The Incentive Lab in Melbourne, remain hopeful that a trans-Tasman
travel bubble will materialise soon.
“Once borders open there is a really good opportunity for New Zealand
to capture corporate incentive travel from Australia which, in the
past, would have gone to Asian destinations,” Ireland said.
Carol Rothschild from KE Creative Events, added: “Be Reconnected has
been an invaluable opportunity to meet locals from around the regions,
get new ideas and through BEIA receive introductions to people who can
help us create future events here."
Looking to the future of New Zealand's business events industry,
BEIA's Hopkins shared that “over the next three years, New Zealand will
open three international convention centres, with a combined floor space
of 10 rugby fields, creating over 1,000 new jobs directly while also
supporting other industries such as accommodation, hospitality, food
producers and suppliers, and airlines".
Hopkins added that the BEIA team continues to work closely with the
government, contributing also to industry task forces to ensure that the
road to recovery is as rapid and smooth as possible.