MEETINGS 2022: The highlights

Arinex needed no convincing to attend MEETINGS 2022, New Zealand’s flagship two-day business events tradeshow, which was held in Christchurch for the first time in 14 years. The city has come a long way since devastating earthquakes and COVID-19 lockdowns and is ready to bring business events back on a huge scale. From a newly built convention centre to the world’s first carbon positive airport, 2,500 new hotels rooms, bespoke experiences and breathtaking scenery, there is plenty to love about Christchurch.

Here, Nicole Walker, Jessica Ferguson and Virginia Loyola give an insider’s view of MEETINGS 2022 and destination pre-event familiarisation programs.

Nicole Walker, Arinex Managing Director

What famil did you attend?

I attended a three-day Queenstown famil hosted by Destination Queenstown.

What was the highlight of the famil?

Waking up on the first morning to the biggest snowstorm they have experienced in over a decade was magical. It was also great to see all the new product and hotel refurbishments that have happened over the past couple of years which provides great opportunities and options for our incentive clients.

Why is NZ a great location for business events, whether it’s a conference, pre and post tour or an incentive event?

The beautiful scenery, diverse cities and great Indigenous culture. It also has beautiful new venues and accommodation.

Was there anything about NZ that you found particularly interesting?

In 2022 Christchurch Airport became the world’s first carbon positive airport – meaning they draw more carbon from the atmosphere than they are creating. They have some spectacular initiatives around this including the development of New Zealand’s largest renewable energy precinct with solar, batteries and hydrogen, to meet future needs of the aviation industry as it transitions towards clean energy alternatives.

What was your key takeout from Meetings 2022?

The NZ business events industry is resilient and ready to get back to doing what we do best. The close-knit community is fantastic, and it was great to see so many familiar faces.

What did you like about the new Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre?

Its beautiful design with stone and wood finishes. The centre is big enough to accommodate large groups but also well designed to feel intimate

Nicole joined a familiarisation of Queenstown ahead of MEETINGS 2022.

Jessica Ferguson, Arinex National Business Development Manager

What famil did you attend?

I attended the Christchurch famil hosted by the ChristchurchNZ Business Events team.

What was the benefit of attending the famil?

With the recent opening of the Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre, there is significant interest in the city and as a leading PCO that operates across Australasia, it is imperative that we remain up to date with the destination’s offering.

We saw the best of Christchurch’s architectural beauty, breathtaking natural environment, and a rich array of accommodation, experiences, dining and venue offerings.

It was great to get an understanding of the scale of the re-build in Christchurch following the earthquakes and pandemic.

How many venues did you visit?

We visited 16 venues at various locations offering a range of capacities and services for conferences, pre/post touring and the corporate incentives market. Christchurch and the wider Canterbury region offers everything from world-class conference facilities to boutique heritage accommodation, natural wellness experiences and fine dining restaurants serving delicious dishes crafted from the freshest local produce.

What were the highlights of the famil for you?

A highlight on the first full day was a Masterchef-style cook-off at Riverside Kitchen, a charming cooking school and event space nestled above the Riverside Market with room for 14-100 guests.

The next day, a definite highlight, was a site tour of Australasia’s newest purpose-built convention centre, the Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre.

Our final day was filled with incredible experiences and the opportunity to witness Christchurch from very different outlooks. We took a relaxed tour punting along the Avon River with live commentary followed by a city tour via vintage tram ride where we were served morning tea treats.

We finished on a high with a Christchurch city scenic flight aboard a luxury EC130 helicopter operated by GCH Aviation, which gave a stunning bird’s eye view of the city, Banks Peninsula, Port of Lyttleton and seaside surrounds.

Jessica joined a familiarisation of Christchurch ahead of MEETINGS 2022.

Virginia Loyola, Senior Business Development Manager – International

What stood out to you the most while attending MEETINGS 2022?

The layout of the city was easy to walk around. I found the exhibitors to be deeply knowledgeable about their products and very keen to relaunch into the market given NZ has only recently lifted its border closure. Many of the host hotels had only very recently (that week for some) reopened after being a quarantine hotel. I loved all the little special touches from the host team, BEIA, including the welcome pack on arrival. I chose to walk to the Centre each morning instead of using the shuttle buses. It was an easy distance which gave me chance to understand how close everything is to the main centre. Such an interesting city with great coffee!

Why is NZ a great location for business events, whether it’s a conference, pre and post tour or an incentive event?

There is quality infrastructure in the main cities for conferences with excellent meetings facilities in Christchurch and Rotorua, with Wellington and Auckland not far behind. There are plenty of hotels and activities for delegates. Air New Zealand has frequent connections to 20 destinations in NZ making international and domestic connections quite easy. There are amazing natural wonders in NZ that are relevant to the incentive market with some world class experiences on offer such as alpine activities or wellness programs in stunning settings.

What did you like about the new Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre?

The venue is truly world class and shares a beautiful narrative of the local area with its architectural design (mirroring the river) and culinary offerings. It is walking distance to the city, many hotels and restaurants. The facilities and spaces are flexible and the main auditorium was great. I attended the speaker showcase during the lunch breaks which were very impressive. The new centre will bring a much-needed boost to the city.

What was your key takeout from Meetings 2022?

There is a vast array of offerings in NZ for the conference delegate and incentive participant, all supported by a robust and experienced business events industry. NZ has always been known for its stunning landscapes, cuisine and culture, now it will also be known for its state-of-the-art meeting and conference facilities.

MEETINGS 2022 was held in Christchurch at the newly opened Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre.