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Virtual conference organisers give boost to local hospitality operators

A New Zealand conference organiser has come up with a way to support hospitality operators hard hit by COVID’s toll on the business events industry.

This week (22 to 25 November) over 800 delegates from 29 countries are attending the 16th Congress of the Federation of Asian and Oceanian Biochemists and Molecular Biologists (FAOBMB), planned for Ōtautahi Christchurch.

Instead of gathering at Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre, and spilling out into the local hotels and hospitality venues around town during breaks, they are at home on their computer screens.

Professional conference organiser, Arna Wahl-Davies says this is the first time New Zealand has hosted a FAOBMB Congress since 1999. But after exploring every option, the organising committee decided it had to be a virtual-only event.

She says with virtual conferences now replacing in-person events, the organisers were keenly aware many in the event supply chain would be missing out, including all those hospitality venues which conferences like this support.

“So, we thought, wouldn’t it be great if we could buy all 405 New Zealand delegates a coffee and encourage them to spend to support their favourite local café. We wanted to thank attendees for still participating in a sustainable way by saying ‘have a coffee on us’.

“Which led us to SOS. Via the voucher-gifting platform SOS, we have been able to send each a $20 voucher which they can redeem at any of the over 2,000 New Zealand businesses on the SOS platform, using the inKind App.

“That’s over $8,100 worth of coffee and cake going into local economies. It’s a small way to give back.”

Business Events Industry Aotearoa (BEIA) Chief Executive, Lisa Hopkins says this is a great example of business events in action, supporting local businesses and communities, while at the same time providing education across countries that will ultimately save lives.

“With conference groups unable to meet face-to-face and contribute economically and socially to the country, many organisations are missing out on the benefits of business events,” she says.

Congratulations to the FAOBMB Congress organisers for thinking about ways to support local industry. Every bit helps.

Lisa Hopkins, Chief Executive, Business Events Industry Aotearoa (BEIA)

“By pushing forward with the event in a digital format they can carry on the important work of sharing knowledge and information about COVID, and other diseases with experts around the world,” she says.

The impact of the business events sector on New Zealand’s economy includes financial, social, regional investment and environmental. In 2019 in New Zealand, the industry was valued at $1.45 billion per annum, with over 3.6 million delegates both domestic and international, and employing 22,000 people. However, since COVID-19, the value of the sector has reduced by 78 per cent.

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