A curious observer could describe TRENZ like a good mullet – business at the front and a big old party out back.
But delegates at the country’s biggest tourism trade show will argue that despite the parties – and there are many – it’s always in the name of business.
Hundreds of meetings between tourism operators, regional tourism organisations and international travel buyers are scheduled over three solid days during the event at Queenstown Events Centre this week.
It’s where activities are purchased, bookings are made, contacts are formed and friends reunite.
But most of the real networking is done away from the booths, beer in hand.
Like Skyline chief executive Jeff Staniland told more than 1000 people packed into Queenstown Airport on Monday night: “Socialising is highly recommended, talk a lot, have a few drinks, dance, and generally enjoy yourselves.”
Delegates are coy when it comes to talking to media about the boozy mix of business and pleasure, which takes place at several industry parties before, during and after the event.
One anonymous Queenstown tourism worker says: “I need to be careful what I say because otherwise my company is going to ask me why we’re spending tens of thousands of dollars to be part of it if all the business is done in a bar.
“I was talking to a couple of Queenstown exhibitors today about it and they were saying it can be quite hard to pin down where the business comes from because as well as an appointment trade show it’s a networking convention.
“There are five or 10 parties on so the after-hours is at least as important as the appointments during the day.”
Lake Wanaka Tourism boss James Helmore says like the all-important tourism familiarisation trips that took place today, parties help “break the ice” in between the formal meetings.
“This is a ‘where dreams come true industry’ and with that comes the responsibility to make people have a good time,” he says.
“A lot of the NZ-based suppliers have moved around and you have got really good networks of people. So it’s really good to catch up with a great bunch of people. It’s infectious.”
And what better place to hold such a party than Queenstown, the good-time adventure capital?
“You have got to remember we are hosting Trenz,” Destination Queenstown chairman Mark Quickfall explains.
“These people are overseas buyers – it’s important that we host these people correctly. It’s a great opportunity to network with other people in our industry.”