18 May 2023 | 6 Minute(s) to read
It was our first foray into tourism industry events and there is nothing like dropping yourself in the deep end to get a better understanding of the industry. More than 1500 people gathered over three days to network, buy, sell and learn about what services are on offer, tourism news and what incredibly rewarding opportunities that present themselves in this environment. For some it was their ninth, tenth or even twelfth time they had been to Trenz (we all have to start somewhere right!), and many overseas operators had arrived directly from the Australian Trenz equivalent in which 22,000 people attended.
Myself, Nivanka and Tania met one-on-one with more than 60 other tourism professionals from multi-national hoteliers to Regional Tourism Operators (RTOs) to local private businesses whom were not only holding their own through tough times but thriving and being so positive about the future; still totally passionate about what they do, even after everything they have been through.
Why were we at TRENZ?
You might be wondering why and how we ended up there! Well, we went in with two hats on. Konduit is a company we formed a few years ago now, which is a piece of software that can be built-in or an add-on to an RTO website, or umbrella hotel chain (for example) to bring in listings from various other websites into one location such as Eventbrite, Eventfinda, Tourism NZ, Restaurant Hub, and many many others. This creates a management portal in one place for the administrator, but also brings as much information in front of the end user on their website, allowing them to see what else is on offer in the region they intend to visit and even build an itinerary with the intention that they decide to stay longer - helping that region to thrive.
We were fortunate enough that Venture Taranaki attended, as well as Belt Road Holiday Park and Fitzroy Beach Holiday Park. This was great from my perspective because we were fully immersed in the moment and could bounce ideas around, support each other, ask questions and promote the region. I spent a fair amount of time asking people if they had been to Taranaki, or if their products and services were available in our region too, and if not, how can we help that to happen?
It was great to hear that the Holiday Park market in general is going through a real boom, with locals making the most of affordable quality ‘family-friendly’ accommodation which provides more than just somewhere to rest your head. The Kiwi holiday makers market as I understand it have been less inclined to quibble over the cost of accommodation, and I can only assume that this might be because we know that in these tough times we are keeping the tourism industry afloat. The biggest challenge that regularly came up was still around having enough staff to manage particularly in the hospitality industry.
I had a really interesting conversation with one of the Korean Marketing team from Air New Zealand about what it would take to get Koreans to visit and spend time in Taranaki. He said that at the moment the trend for Koreans is to take up hiking and tramping, and they are busy people, so they enjoy a short visit - six days is an ideal time for Korean visitors to come to the region. Furthermore he said that for some reason a lot of Korean nurses come and live in Taranaki. If anyone is fluent in Korean and is looking for a new venture to set up, maybe this is it!
Placing our Smokeylemon hat on, we were able to assist and advise many of the people we met in offering our web design services as well as the marketing and design. It was so great to connect not only our services across the network but also to connect some of our Taranaki-based clients with potential new work too. We also came away with our minds buzzing around what else we can do to enhance our offerings to the tourism market.
There were so many times last week when I would go to a meeting unsure of what we could realistically offer them, and being brutally honest about it (last thing you want is to waste anyone’s time right?), or what they could offer us. Many people had multiple hats on and on the surface we ended up not being able to work together, however spending that time getting to know them, and what other work they do particularly around the community space, we were soon bouncing around ideas about, or they’d grab someone else to meet us because they could see the opportunity that was not in plain sight on first pass. I often left a meeting pumped not only with so much respect for the community work that was built into their businesses, but so excited for the chance to help them grow.
Other regions had a larger contingency trading than Taranaki, but I’d really encourage attending if you are in the tourism industry as there were a lot of overseas inbound and outbound operators in attendance that are always looking for new markets.
Christchurch Tourism put on an amazing event at Te Pae Convention Centre. The opening night gave us all a taste of what was to come; A well organised, professional and highly interactive trade event that ran like clockwork. The closing night was spent at the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, with performers such as Annie Crummer and Kora on stage alongside food stalls laden with all locally grown and produced food, and open tents with blazing fires including the much needed accessory - the hot water bottle. Many people were wowed by the lighting display in Cuningham House Conservatory, and to be honest I was somewhat bemused when I checked it out and then explained to them that if they thought that was good then they haven't been to Pukekura Park for the Festival of Lights! So I hope I have encouraged some new visitors along the way.
From a software point of view, this event was super successful in the growth of our product and our company. Not only that, we made new friends who do work complementary to ours and we can now work with them on future projects. We had a few awesome comments about how well we built the Venture Taranaki website and other regions were equally impressed with the Horowhenua Tourism website we also built.
From here we have a ton of work connecting and demonstrating our capabilities over the coming weeks, and we will be sure to see everyone again at the next Trenz event in 2024. The loss of voice was so worth it!
If you want to know more about the event, or what services we can provide the tourism industry, book a meeting with me any time.
See you next year!