Conference & Events: Conference Market Benefits from Climbing Corporate Confidence; How Has the Conferences and Conventions Industry Weathered the Recession?

Article excerpt

The meetings industry has always provided a steady revenue stream for venues even when tourist numbers have been less reliable. In the recent post Global Financial Crisis years, there has been a noticeable trend to one to two day events as workplace pressures have increased and companies have become leaner and less able to afford to have staff away from their desks.

The recent recession has been challenging for the sector as it grappled with a drop in business and a concurrent and ongoing rise in expectation of technology and services provided. Several of the larger venues or chains spoken to by NZ Management suggested they'd used the downtime in the recession to do refurbishments and prepare for the post-recession upturn.

"The Global Financial Crisis was in hindsight an opportunity for The Langham, Auckland and in 2009 we took our then Rangitoto ballroom out of operation in order to double its size and relaunch it as The Great Room," explained Janine Daniel, The Langham's director of events and conferences. "This was a significant $8 million investment over a six month period, but the result was a venue which can now hold 1400 guests theatre style and 900 guests for banquets."

All operators concurred that the lead times for events had shortened. "We have found that over the past couple of years we have needed to be more flexible in meeting our customers' requirements," added Daniel. "In fact flexibility is the name of the game in terms of responding to a volatile market."

The practice of organising events and conferences with a very short lead-time seems to be more prevalent here than other countries, says Monique Surges, chief executive of the New Zealand German Business Association. She takes many business groups to trade shows and conferences in Europe and assists New Zealand companies to exhibit. …