Destination Queenstown will be underwriting last week’s Winter Festival to the tune of $100,000-plus to cover a major sponsorship shortfall.
DQ boss Graham Budd – whose publicly-funded tourism organisation owns the Queenstown festival – says he doesn’t know the exact figure.
“But it will be substantial – between $100,000 and $150,000.”
It’s not ideal, Budd admits: “The event would ideally break even and we’d have that funding for marketing activity.”
Every festival he’s aware of has required some underwriting – though that’s been as low as $30,000.
“I don’t see it as a loss, I see it as an investment – instead of investing in ‘X’, we’ve invested in festival.
“It’s one of the biggest marketing activities that we undertake in the whole year in Queenstown.”
Budd says DQ hasn’t had to compromise other marketing initiatives.
“I could see it coming some months out so I took a conservative approach – I was able to make allowances before that money got committed to another activity.”
Efforts were also made this year to pare back costs: “Most people, I expect, wouldn’t have really seen where we had to trim budget.
“But one example which people could see was that the main stage that usually stays on Earnslaw Park right through till the end of the festival came down during the middle of the week.”
Planning for this latest festival received a blow when long-standing sponsor Air New Zealand pulled out – later coming back at a reduced level.
The sponsorship market remains very tight, Budd says.
“It puts the onus on us to do an even better job of presenting a compelling sponsorship proposal to potential sponsors and of course our existing sponsors.”
Budd’s hopeful DQ can retain naming sponsor American Express, whose three-year contract has expired.
Meanwhile, he confirms he’ll lead a major review of the festival, but says it won’t interfere with planning for next year’s 40th event.
Festival boss Lisa Buckingham today announces she’s seeking feedback on what people would like included in the 40th – and beyond.