TRAVEL professionals in Singapore believe that it will be an uphill task convincing clients to pick New Zealand for their events, saying that longhaul destinations such as Europe and the US hold stronger appeal.
Interviewed at Tourism New Zealand’s (TNZ) one-day roadshow in Singapore last week, Philomena Tan, corporate sales manager, Holiday Tours, noted that New Zealand is perceived as an expensive destination.
“Airfares to New Zealand are also less competitive compared to other longhaul destinations in Europe and the US. Budgets for our clients have shrunk by up to 50 per cent in the last two to three years, and more companies are holding events closer to home,” she said.
UOB’s Travel’s vice president for MICE, Jennifer Tan, observed that her MICE clients are inclined to destinations with shopping offerings. “Compared to destinations in Europe or the US for example, New Zealand does not have any big malls or big brand names – which is what our clients look out for when choosing a destination.”
Bert Goethals, head of Asia-Pacific, transHotel, added: “The outdoors, which what New Zealand is all about, actually holds little appeal to Asian clients. Moreover, New Zealand does not carry the same level of prestige that is conferred onto European destinations such as Spain or France for instance.”
TNZ’s Cristina McLauchlan, business events manager – South & South-east Asia, said: “New Zealand is perceived primarily as a leisure rather than a MICE destination. Actually, we have the infrastructure to host MICE events (with up to 2,000 delegates)…but not many individuals are aware of this.
“This roadshow is a clear opportunity for TNZ to inform members of the travel trade in Singapore that a broad spectrum of support is available to them right on their doorstep.”
Vast financial resources have been allocated to bolster TNZ’s MICE ambitions including a three-year marketing plan and new business event-specific marketing campaign (TTG Asia e-Daily, November 20, 2013).