Media release


 An exceptional year for New Zealand and Christchurch on the international convention front. 


New Zealand and the Garden City of Christchurch in particular have leapt up the ranks of popularity for international meetings and conferences, according to the prestigious International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) figures for 2004, released last week. With over 700 members in almost 80 countries worldwide, ICCA is the most influential global organisation within the meetings industry. Its annual Statistics Report of cities and countries holding the most international conferences is eagerly awaited in the international industry.


In 2004, New Zealand had 25 international conferences, with Christchurch hosting 10 and Auckland seven.


“Christchurch has showed a great improvement in the rankings. 2004 has been an exceptional year for NCC (NZ) Ltd, the management company now known as Vbase,” said Mike Kelly, outgoing Executive Director of Vbase Venue Management Group. For the past 10 years he has been responsible for managing Christchurch’s three premier convention and entertainment venues - Westpac Centre for sport and entertainment, Christchurch Town Hall and Christchurch Convention Centre.


“Christchurch is now ranked 23rd in the Asia Pacific and Middle East region.  Globally that puts us just behind New York, a city of millions which hosted just 13 conferences”, says Andrea Mitchell Research-Coordinator for Vbase. “In the Asia Pacific region we are ahead of exotic cities such as Dubai, Mumbai, Jakarta, Hanoi and Nagoya.  When the figures were released and we started analysing them were all thrilled to see the hard work we put in really does pay off.”


“I take some encouragement from the fact some of our competitors have even asked how we did it.  Pretty heady stuff for a smaller centre overcoming some geographic isolation,” Mike says. “As ICCA Ambassador for New Zealand these past 4 years, I took the opportunity to work the system in our favour and in the process doubling the number of ICCA members in New Zealand from 3 to 6. Based in New Zealand, I felt a responsibility to bring our competitors on board with ICCA despite the fact it could have influenced our results somewhat. I’m pleased that Christchurch is still leader of the pack. We just have to work harder to stay there,” said Mike.


It’s a simple formula, executed with skill, enthusiasm and professionalism by all the company’s executive, research and sales and marketing team.


“The secret is in our exceptional research capabilities, our well-designed, modern facilities and our commitment to building relationships within the industry,” says Mike.  “Andrea is ICCA trained and does a great job researching all the industry databases, concentrating on what we can offer and focussing on markets such as the medical profession which hold the most meetings. Our Australian Sales Executive Jo Robinson has just completed the certification requirements for an Associate Fellow Meetings Events Australia. We’re all very proud of her. She regularly attends industry meetings around the Pacific and all our team have great relationships with people in the industry.”


Mike points out that there’s much more to winning international conferences than offering great venues.  Facilitating accommodation, transport, entertainment and promoting the area’s natural and artificial attractions also plays an important role. It’s also a very small “p” political process that is “relationship driven”. Maintaining contacts with out of country people who have already attended conventions in Christchurch is an important part of the process, encouraging them to support and vote for New Zealand if a bid is put forward.


With the city’s progress up the ICCA ladder, it’s obviously a formula the Christchurch team has right.


“It’s satisfying to be going out on a relative high,” says Mike who is moving to Bangkok to do more of the same with NCC Management & Development Co. Ltd. at the end of this year.  “In addition to moving Christchurch higher in the ICCA rankings, in 2004 we were able to contribute $1 million to the city from operations this past year in an industry that traditionally has struggled to make money through its venues and has served as a loss leader for purposes of economic impact to benefit the region it serves. The estimated value of economic impact to the city from the operations of the venues is $50 to 70 million a year.”


Not a bad return for the people of Christchurch who also enjoy the fabulous facilities for their own entertainment!




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