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Wednesday Letter: The best TRENZ ever?

16 May 2018  By Paul Yandall

Delegates were welcomed to TRENZ at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin. Image: TIA

Could it have been, possibly, maybe, just slightly, like, the best TRENZ ever? Wherever it ranks, Dunedin put on a #dunnerstunner last week, writes the Ticker’s Paul Yandall.

Paul Yandall

The best TRENZ ever? There was no shortage of delegates floating that thought at last Thursday’s farewell function in Dunedin, the first time the city had hosted TRENZ.

We at the Ticker have limited experience – last year’s Auckland event was our first – so we can safely say, yes, for us, it was the best TRENZ ever.

The industry buzz on the floor of the Edgar Centre was positive, operators and RTOs had schedules packed full of meetings with buyers, and the venue seemed to work well. And Dunedin was gloriously sunny for the week, which made a big difference to the many nature tours delegates experienced during the event.

As journalists, the media programme was interesting, most of the heavy hitters in the industry presented or were available for interview. And the midweek media function at Larnach Castle, one of Dunedin’s iconic attractions, where a full-throated rendition of Robert Burns’ Address to a Haggis was performed, was superb. As was the haggis.

The four-day conference was also bookended by two well run and interesting social functions: the welcome event at Forsyth Barr Stadium and the farewell gig at The Dunedin Centre.

From the bagpiper welcoming delegates to Forsyth Barr to the sight of hundreds of foreign buyers lining up underneath the stadium’s roof to get a photo with former All Black captain Richie McCaw – now an operator in the industry – it was clear plenty of thought had been put into the event.

Likewise, the different musical, mood and food and drink zones spread across The Dunedin Centre made it an ideal venue for a rousing, dance-filled finale.

The event was expected to pump $2m into Dunedin’s economy, but perhaps the real value was in showcasing just what is on offer in regional New Zealand to the influential international travel buyers in attendance. It also demonstrated what can be achieved by collaboration, when far-flung regions without critical mass pull together, and as a result, pull it off.

Next year’s event returns to Rotorua, which hosted TRENZ in 2016, and then comes south to Christchurch for 2020. It will probably head north again in 2021 but could Dunedin host again soon after that? On last week’s showing, it certainly deserves to.

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