After a two-year break, more than 500 business events industry buyers and media from Australia and New Zealand were welcomed to Auckland Tāmaki Makaurau, 2 June, for Business Events Industry Aotearoa’s MEETINGS exhibition.
The event opened at Auckland’s ASB Showgrounds with a mihi whakatau on the show floor, led by New Zealander of the Year theatre, film and television actor Jennifer Ward-Lealand CNZM. She gave a moving mihi in te reo Māori, before Ngā Rangatahi O Tamaki – a group of passionate youth selected from a variety of high schools throughout Auckland – who led a karanga, call of welcome, and a powhiri.
New Zealand minister of tourism, Hon. Stuart Nash welcomed guests by video link from Parliament, followed by BEIA chief executive Lisa Hopkins and Auckland Unlimited’s head of major and business events, Richard Clarke.
MEETINGS 2021 was officially launched with a function at Auckland’s newest experience and venue, Weta Workshop Unleashed at SkyCity precinct. Welcomed by Weta creator and Academy Award winner, Sir Richard Taylor, guests were immersed in the fantastical film effects inspired by Wellington’s Weta Workshop, making the most of the surreal environments and interactive experiences.
Lisa Hopkins said: “Many of our buyers have been travelling around New Zealand since Friday taking the opportunity to explore Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Our regional tourism organisations have been hosting familiarisation tours of their cities, highlighting new infrastructure, activities and hospitality. Now they have the chance to meet all of New Zealand in pre-scheduled appointments and networking time with 149 exhibitors across two days.”
“There’s a sense of confidence coming back, reflected in the number of buyers and the number of first-time exhibitors to MEETINGS this year. They sum up the diversity of this industry – everything from Tauranga-based Brewbus, to Auckland’s stand-out new Hotel Britomart,” Hopkins added.
Among the new exhibitors are two South Island regions, Kaikōura on the South Island’s east coast, and Central Otago, which recently launched Central Otago Business Events, a regional convention bureau. Five new exhibitors come from Queenstown this year, including hotels, production companies, and adventure operators.
Tourism New Zealand is hosting a new concept called Destination Zone on the show-floor. In partnership with Congress Rentals, using their silent conferencing technology, 18 regions are giving a high-level overview to both day buyers and hosted buyers across the two days.
MEETINGS is adding a new Speaker Series to the show floor this year in partnership with Celebrity Speakers and organisers have also introduced the Hononga Lounge to provide an opportunity for businesses who focus on sustainability to meet with event organisers. They include Bees Up Top, a company rescuing swarm bees and rehoming them in urban areas, such as Auckland hotel rooftops, and For the Better Good who make reusable and compostable water bottles from plants.
Business Events Industry Aotearoa (BEIA) – formerly CINZ – is the official, membership-based association of New Zealand’s conference and business events industry with 450 members across a range of sectors.
Pre-Covid, business events were generating in excess of NZ$1.5bn annually for New Zealand and supporting around 22,000 jobs directly.
MEETINGS is New Zealand’s largest business events trade exhibition and takes place at ASB Showgrounds on 2 and 3 June. MEETINGS 2019 generated over NZ$62m in business, signed during the two-day event.