The workings of Convention Bureaux are still quite misunderstood within the industry as well as within the corporate space. We want to raise some awareness with our Oh-Ah-Ha Live interview with Nicole Carvell

Are you one of those people who get a sparkle in their eye when they see the word FREE? Or are you the exact opposite? One of the sceptics who is of the opinion that nothing in life is ever without recompense? What’s the catch, right? 

Take a seat because boy do we have news that will shake up your event boots! Let’s be upfront: There is NO catch!

Here in Aotearoa we have what’s called ‘Convention Bureaux’.

Regional Convention Bureaux sit with the local RTO (reginal tourism operator) or the local council, and their role is to promote the region as a destination for business travel and events. Especially when you‘re not that familiar with the region, they are a gold-mine of information. Even better, there are no strings attached. That’s hours and hours of leg-work you don’t have to do.  

I’m going to take a not so wild guess here and assume you want to know more about this. (What is there to lose, right?)

Nicole Carvell is the person who’s brain you want to pick. 

Not only is she the Business Event Tourism Advisor for Enterprise Dunedin; she’s also the Chair of Convention Bureaux NZ. We have nailed her for our latest Oh-Ah-Ha Live and pried all the info you need out of her. To be fair, she’s rather a lovely person to have a wee chat with, anyway. 😉

Promoting Events in Dunedin… or Elsewhere in Aotearoa

Nicole got her Dunedin business events feet wet around the same time the Dunedin Centre received a 40 million dollar refurbishment. The Dunedin Centre is a charismatic baroque setting for any event. But that spruce up caused a big renaissance in the Dunedin business events scene. For Nicole, it was a steep learning curve, but it also was some very exciting stuff and it got her hooked.

With a rich blend of heritage buildings and a close proximity of the stunning Harbour Peninsula, Dunedin especially suits the boutique events as well as the incentive events. Beaches and ski-slopes are all within easy reach. Called ‘the most intriguing city in Aotearoa’, there are plenty of little gems nobody but the locals know about. 

Despite Dunedin being Nicole’s home turf, she felt the calling  to be the voice of all 16 or so regional convention bureaux in Aotearoa. Confusingly, they don’t necessarily carry the ‘Convention Bureau’ name. But some differences in resources aside, the common ground is the regional expertise and the ‘We’re here to help’ attitude for clients looking at their next event.   

(Tip: The NZ Convention Bureaux website is the best place to start your search for your next event location.)

What is a Regional Convention Bureau?

Nicole keeps returning to the Convention Bureaux motto: ‘We’re here to make the event organisers life a lot easier and we’ll go out of our way to do it.’

According to Nicole, this is how the process usually works:

  • I usually start with a one on one with the client to understand what it is they need. We basically talk about the format and requirements that will work for them. 
  • Next, we impartially put together the potential providers that are specific to those requirements. I like to do as much leg work for the client as I can. Sometimes we give them some creative options. 
  • Depending on how familiar our client is with the region, we may offer them a quote at this stage. If that’s the case, we might bring them in a for a famil or site visit, so they can check out our suggestions for themselves. 
  • But sometimes, clients aren’t that familiar with the region at all. In that case, they may need to see the region first before they can figure it out in their head. In that case, we’ll work it the other way around. Famil first, then the quote. 

It is Nicole’s experience that the working of Convention Bureaux are still quite misunderstood within the industry as well as within the corporate space. So there is a need to raise some awareness around that. 

If the passion with which she speaks is anything to go by, she’s crushing it, I say!

Good Times Are Ahead for International Business Events in Aotearoa!

As for the current state of the events business in the regions, Nicole is one happy camper. 

The 60% of Nicole’s clients with a kiwi background are very keen to support the regions. Many of them are returning clients. But interestingly, also the International bids are back with a vengeance. As rough as last year was, our standout COVID response has put New Zealand on everybody’s radar. 

The recently opened Tasman bubble is also building a lot of confidence in the industry. And because the Ozzies are limited in where they can go, they are looking for that ‘hot new product’. 

Hello Dunedin!

Nicole’s Ah-ha Moment – It’s the People that Matter!

As far as Nicole’s Ah-ha moment is concerned (You know we couldn’t skip that!) it’s the moment the human side of events dawned on her. 

It’s one of the things that keeps coming back again and again during our Oh-Ah-Ha Live interviews: The events industry is a real people-orientated environment. We all work ridiculous hours, but we also meet the most amazing people. But also, what we do makes a difference. For Nicole, that realisation meant a shift from, ‘This is what I do for a job’, to ‘ What I do matters. I can make an impact’.

And that is the spice of life. 

Nicole has over 10 years of experience in the events industry, she is a strong business events advocate, skilled in sales and event management. A self-proclaimed efficiency expert and sustainability champion, Nicole’s mantra is work smarter not harder.




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