Conventions & Conferences Destination Taupo The hot spot in corporate conference venues

The New Zealand conference industry is thriving. The domestic market in particular is running at record high levels perhaps, as Conventions and Incentives New Zealand CEO Alan Trotter puts it; “reflecting the current robust state of the New Zealand economy”.
And Taupo is grabbing more than its share of this new market growth. The reasons for this spurt in conference activity may have much to do with the buoyancy of our economy, but there are other more global factors which are undoubtedly playing part.
New Zealand is increasingly seen as safe and secure destination for business tourism, of which conferences are major component. And if the world outside sees us as rather more settled environment in which to meet and build strategies for the future, so we in turn seem less interested in seeking out exotic offshore destinations to stage our corporate get togethers.
According to Trotter, our international (business tourism) growth is increasing at around eight percent year with lots of Australian interest in particular. Almost 60 percent of our annual 45,000 international conference arrivals hail from across the Tasman. Australians might call us the “Shaky Isles” but an ever increasing number of them see New Zealand as decidedly more settled than other Asian destinations for instance. The increasingly close economic and political ties between New Zealand and Australia are also important drivers of the trend to meet here.
As for Taupo’s increasing appeal as primary destination, well it all links to its aggressive marketing of its increasingly professional and conference-friendly facilities, its ideal geographic location, the stunningly attractive environment and the increasing array of corporate attractions such as golf, fishing, adventure, boating and other off-site activities which conference organisers believe deliver balance to the work sessions.
Destination Lake Taupo, the region’s umbrella tourism organisation, takes its marketing role seriously in an increasingly competitive environment. Di Christie, manager of the organisation’s convention bureau, says the corporate and association conference market is becoming increasingly sophisticated. “We offer complete conference planning service, liaising with the region’s venues and other industry partners, to make client’s experience of Taupo both professional and rewarding,” says Christie.
Conference delegates are attractive visitors for areas like Taupo. They spend around three times the average daily spend of “normal” tourist, according to Trotter, and so international conference activity now contributes about $260 million year to the country’s GDP. Estimates are that the domestic contribution is three times this figure so it is now $1 billion year business for New Zealand. And of the two types of conference, corporate (which makes up 76 percent) and association (24 percent) Taupo now holds around 15 percent of total market share.
We did some sampling of what Taupo has to offer.
“Stressed out executives arrive from Auckland on Friday night and find that within half an hour they have already relaxed into the tranquillity of the surroundings,” says Huka Lodge’s Nicolette Groenendijk. Taupo’s picturesque natural assets make it an ideal centre for business conferences or incentive programmes, she adds. And she should know. Huka Lodge has probably received more “exclusive end” of the market international travel destination awards than just about any other New Zealand destination.
Taupo perches on the northern shores of New Zealand’s largest freshwater lake. The lake is the biggest volcanic crater in the Southern Hemisphere. Today the town and its adjoining region specialises in smaller (under 250 delegates) conferences and conventions.
Larger conferences, of up to 1000 dele-gates, are catered for by three larger facilities, Taupo Events Centre, Wairakei Resort and the Great Lake Convention and Entertainment Centre.
To support its growing population of conference and incentive hotels and lodges, is one of New Zealand most comprehensive arrays of outdoor activity options. Activities such as jet boating on the Huka Jet, Prawn Farm, Chris Jolly Outdoors and Rapids Jet and spectacular selection of bush and mountain walks, tandem sky diving, bungy jumping, float plane adventures, launch and fly fishing, heritage park visits and so on.
A few minutes south of Wairakei Resort is the Huka Village and Wishart Estate and Huka Vineyard. Set in an old apple and pear orchard, the Village is purpose-built conference centre. It offers six conference rooms and unique villa style individual accommodation, ideal for small focus groups of say five, and up to large 150-plus-delegate conferences. The facilities include university-style theatre and computer training suite, explains Huka Village manager Mark Davey.
On-site activities include nine hole pitch and putt golf course, pool and tennis court. The setting is enhanced by the inclusion of Burgundian style, pinot noir vineyard, winetasting cellar and award- winning restaurant, Finches, with large outdoor decking area and marquee-style summer dining. Wishart Estate of Hawkes Bay has established fully working vineyard on the property and expects its first vintage next year.
Tauhara Sunrise is recently opened luxury lodge that sits on the hill above Taupo’s beautiful Acacia Bay. Owned by Rob McEwan and his American wife Becky, the outlook across the bay to Mt Tauhara and its surrounding magnificent sunrises is stunning. Guests watch them from large hot tub on the roofed-in balcony, at the front of the lodge. The imported stone lodge is ideal for small conference, management retreat or incentive destination and is furnished in relaxed but luxurious style.
Elizabeth Burton, conference manager at the Wairakei Resort, delights in her association with Taupo’s largest conference facility. The Wairakei Resort has fascinating history and is now part of the Bayview International Hotels and Resorts chain.
It boasts 187 rooms, from the two bedroom presidential suite to family villas. Recently built executive suites feature king-sized beds, large bathrooms with spa baths, interconnecting sitting rooms and internet facilities.
Conference facilities range from the conference lounge, able to host 40 people, to the Karapiti and Waikato rooms large enough for 700 people. The resort is situated within the beautiful 4000 acre Wairakei Park. It offers two swimming pools, spa pool and sauna, squash courts and floodlit tennis and volley ball courts and fully equipped gymnasium. nine hole golf course across the road from the main gates and access to unique area of geothermal activity enhance what is very diverse and different resort facility.
Lakeside dining that specialises in offering fresh local produce and outstanding wines, is part of the unique experience of The Landing restaurant at The Cove, 19 room luxury hotel on the shores of Lake Taupo. But The Cove also offers stylish meeting rooms that cater for special functions and corporate retreats. Its conference facilities are managed by Quattro Hospitality. Their support services include Retreat Planner, available to assist with staging successful, tailor-made conference or retreat programme that might include off-site team-building activities.
Caboose and Chantilly’s are two Taupo resorts that offer very different conference experiences.
Romana Vanderlee of Caboose Hotel offers corporate guests taste of Africa in the heart of Taupo. The hotel features an African train journey theme with furnishings and adornments imported from South Africa by the original owners. Conference organisers choose between Warthog Hollow or the Indaba Room in which to stage conference with difference.
Chantilly’s is European themed luxury hotel that is purpose built for up to 40 delegates, offering on-site facilities such as heated outdoor swimming pool, spa and BBQ area and conference room with TV, video, data projector and electronic whiteboard.

Visited 6 times, 1 visit(s) today
Close Search Window