Small country, big ideas

New Zealand: right on your doorstep for Australia’s Queenslanders and more than a day away for most northern European businessfolk. But, whether near or far, New Zealand has its very own way of doing business – and we think you’re going to like it, says Cora Lydon.

New Zealand is positively rolling out its welcome mat to international visitors who are attracted to its reputation for its excellent trade links and sound corporate environment. The Transparency International Corruption Index 2017 places the country in the top spot for lack of corruption (with a score of 89) – and it’s consistently ranked amongst the top countries for some time. In comparison, even ‘near neighbours’ Central Asia only average a score of 34, as can Eastern Europe; while Sub-Saharan Africa comes bottom with an average of 32.

The country’s location – situated as it is between Asia, Australia and the US – affords it clear advantages in global connectivity, plus it’s renowned for a strong culture of innovation and investment. Have you ever wondered what the egg beater, the jet pack and the disposable syringe have in common? They were all conceived and developed by talented Kiwis highlighting the nation’s can-do attitude and initiative.

So, if the boss is doing business in New Zealand, they should be prepared to come face-to-face with other leaders who (in keeping with much of the nation’s working population) value resourcefulness and ingenuity; are used to rolling up their sleeves and getting involved at all levels; and who demonstrate determination and grit.

“New Zealand is recognised for its superb service and support, world- leading knowledge hubs, natural beauty and amazing array of activities – and hosting a conference in New Zealand is easy,” says Lisa Gardiner, Tourism New Zealand’s manager of business events and premium.

“The World Bank recently ranked New Zealand as number one for ‘ease of doing business’ in its 2017 report. From the literal ease of getting around our walkable cities to our reputation for being welcoming hosts, we’re well known for helping organisers create delegate experiences that exceed expectations.”

What’s more – with nearly 72,000 international delegates touching down in the country for a business event in 2017, it must be doing something right. That figure represents an increase of 9.3 per cent on the previous year and, with extensive investment currently underway, it’s bound to grow year-on- year. New Zealand is hot for business: you heard it here first.

Getting here
Those travelling for business will need a three-month Business Visitor Visa – but do check before you apply for this as there are more than 50 countries for which the application is waived, including the UK and Ireland, the USA, Japan, Australia, Hong Kong, Brunei, Canada, Spain, Kuwait and more.

And, while the visa process may seem super-easy, you could be forgiven for thinking the task of getting to New Zealand is tricky – especially if you’re starting in Europe. “New Zealand is just a three-hour direct flight from some Australian ports, and a 10 to 12-hour direct flight from most places on the Pacific Rim, including Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo and the West Coast of the USA,” explains Lisa.
And what of enticing delegates on the other side of the world? Lisa reckons it’s easier than you may think: “For many, it’s a bucket list destination so attending a conference gives them a great reason to visit.”

So, from the UK, for example, you can expect to buckle up for around 27 hours – but it’ll most certainly be worth the ride.

From here, you’ll need to give some consideration to the boss’s ongoing travel. Domestic airlines cover the main hubs, as well as servicing smaller towns, while the inter-island ferries are a cheaper option (and arguably more scenic). Public transport is also available however, depending what your exec is used to, they may find it a little lacking.

Despite the low density of people (the population is about 4.7million – similar to that of Greater Boston in the US and just over half the total people in London), the road network is extensive and often the only way to reach some rural areas. Car hire is commonly available so do remind the boss to pack their drivers’ license.

You may also like to warn them that, due to the high volume of single-lane highways and picturesque yet slow winding country roads, they should allow extra time for any self-driven journeys.

Ongoing investment
The country is undergoing significant development; nowhere more so than on South Island’s Christchurch. After a devastating earthquake it’s bouncing back even bigger and better.

Caroline Blanchfield, industry partnership manager – tourism for ChristchurchNZ, explains: “The earthquake of 2011 saw us faced with rebuilding an entire central city. This has provided us with the opportunity to build a truly 21st century city with thought around how we rebuilt our infrastructure and where that infrastructure is located.

“Our city is the perfect destination for a corporate meeting. We offer a city with an exciting future and bold ambition; a destination with low transport costs for conference organisers due to the small core of the city and a gateway to the beautiful South Island.” For a small country, New Zealand sure knows how to pull in the punters.

Doing business the Māori way
The ease of doing business in New Zealand is supported by the country’s inclusive and unique style of hospitality, known as ‘manaakitanga’. This Māori word loosely translates to ‘hospitality’ and is central to Māori society, inspiring the way that travellers, including delegates, are made to feel welcome when visiting New Zealand.
And you’d be wrong to not consider the possibility that the boss will encounter this unique way of doing business. Estimates are that one in seven people residing in New Zealand are Māori and, according to the Māori Economy Report 2013, Māori businesses account for an economic asset base of over NZ$42.6billion.
In fact, so important is the concept of manaakitanga that it’s recognised by the government as one of just two core values relating to its tourism strategy. This means visitors can expect a warm welcome and, with that, comes generosity and mutual respect. Note that the Māori language – te reo – is becoming more commonplace, too. National carrier Air New Zealand has been increasingly using it, helping to embed the Māori culture into the country.

Auckland set to take centre stage
Christchurch isn’t the only area currently seeing investment, with the development of the New Zealand International Convention Centre (NZICC) in the centre of Auckland. The city is known for being New Zealand’s economic powerhouse, securing 38 per cent of the nation’s GDP – and its star is about to shine ever more brightly.
The building – located on the country’s North Island – is set to complete next year and will be five times larger than the current biggest convention facilities in New Zealand. The NZICC will be capable of hosting conferences of around 3,000 delegates and one-off events for up to 4,000 guests with space including 35 meeting areas and a 2,850-seat theatre.
“Auckland’s increasing infrastructure, more frequent flight paths, and now the 4,000-person capacity of the NZICC means that the perceived barriers for larger scale business events coming to New Zealand are now gone,” says Callum Mallett, general manager of operations at NZICC.