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Christchurch Part of Global Meetings Industry

Christchurch's purpose-built facilities the key

Meetings, exhibitions, conferences, trade shows, incentive travel and events are the everyday business of the global meetings industry. More than 80 countries support the global meetings industry, which has grown rapidly over the past four decades. The International Meetings Association (ICCA) researches and reports on its annual $US3 billion footprint.

Christchurch-based Mike Kelly has just served his term of office as world president of the International Association of Assembly Managers (IAAM), with 3500 members making it the largest venue management association. He is executive director of NCC (New Zealand) Ltd, venue manager for the Christchurch Convention Centre, Christchurch Town Hall and Westpac Centre for Sport and Entertainment, owned by the Christchurch City Council. The Christchurch Convention Centre is the country's only international standard purpose built venue, capable of hosting up to 2500 delegates. The Westpac centre is New Zealand's largest indoor arena. Mike Kelly said the Meetings industry is clearly globalised, dealing with common issues such as security, and operating throughout the world. "It's also global in the global attitude and perspective members share. We the practitioners have clearly identified our market as being global, we research on a global scale and we draw our market share from all parts of the globe."

"For example, Australasia has a small percentage of the world meetings market, 6% and growing, but its participants are boldly and aggressively marketing themselves on a global scale, without the mental blocks of seeing horizons." Mike Kelly said the meetings industry is not constrained - people can meet anywhere provided they can fly there!

"In fact, here in Christchurch we identify airline capacity as one of our key determinates in bringing in international attendees to events in our Garden City. We are part way through a strategy of growing our Australian market first, then Asia Pacific, then the rest of the world. Watch out - we're on our way!"

Mike Kelly said that New Zealand has been a beneficiary of the global phenomenon of the film trilogy "The Lord of the Rings" and the 100% PURE campaign by the New Zealand Tourism Board." Whilst they don't attract delegates here per se, they are part of a supportive background that encourages delegates to come to events in New Zealand. There were 46,000 business tourists who came to New Zealand in the year ended April 20024," he said.

ICCA research shows that Hong Kong, Paris and Washington are the truly global cities. Vienna, Berlin, Lisbon and Barcelona are popular European destinations and rank well in the city league tables. Copenhagen has enjoyed No 1 meetings spot in recent annual city league tables. Durban in Africa and Seoul in Asia Pacific enjoy large market shares in their regions.

"Yet it is a paradox that while global cities rely heavily on regional business, provincial and regional cities in New Zealand, Australia, and Canada for example, chase the global market with vigour," Meek Kelly said." The global cities enjoy enough critical mass within their continental borders to sustain them whiles smaller centres need to actively pursue opportunities beyond their borders. By necessity, provincial centres have to invest in long term strategies to lift their market share, and that long term strategy is usually global."

According to ICCA, more than two-thirds of international organisations are based in Europe so, not surprisingly, more than half of international meetings are held there. "Medical meetings represent well over 25% of all international meetings, followed by scientific meetings, technology and industry. There's been a slight upward trend in meetings held in Asia and their exotic Eastern capitals offering excellent value for the Euro, and an increase in the Australia/Pacific. Post 9/11 and SARS it had been difficult for markets outside major continents to attract delegates but now terrorism appears to have been exported to Europe it follows that the rest of the world may be perceived as being safe," Mike Kelly said.

"English is the language of the global meetings industry, so from a career perspective there are many opportunities for English speaking practitioners even where venue ownership and social structures remain strongly local. For example, this is clearly seen in Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and Kula Lumpur."

Mike Kelly notes that one global trend of note is the accelerated entry of women into senior management, and as the percentage of women increases there is a corresponding growth in business, i.e. the more women in business the more business from women. This is reflected in the top 10 countries by number of meetings held 1999-2003: USA, UK, Germany, Japan, Australia, Italy, Spain, France, Finland and Denmark.

The top 10 cities for number of meetings 1999-2003 were Copenhagen, Vienna, Seoul, Helsinki, Barcelona, London, Paris, Sydney, Rio de Janeiro and Singapore. Regionally, the conference city leaders in Africa are Durban, Cape Town, Cairo and Sun City; in Asia Pacific, Seoul, Sydney, Singapore, Melbourne, Taipei, Kuala Lumpur, Beijing, Tokyo, Brisbane, Bangkok and Hong Kong. In Europe Copenhagen, Vienna, Helsinki. Barcelona, London, Paris, Madrid, Berlin and Lisbon are just ahead of newer destinations such as Prague and Budapest. In the Americas Rio de Janeiro, Montreal, Vancouver, Havana, Buenos Aires are more popular than San Francisco, Quebec, Washington, Cancun and Chicago.


For more information please contact Mike Kelly on or email