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What we learnt at the NZ Events Association Conference 2023

Sophie Preston
29 Aug 2023

Last week we were delighted to attend and sponsor the awesome NZ Events Association Annual Conference with our fabulous MC, Kate Rodger, who expertly kept everyone engaged, and entertained throughout the day.

With the overall theme of Eventing the Future, there were a lot of great take aways for the professional event organisers in attendance. For us, it was beneficial to fully understand the components that go into every event, so that as suppliers we can ensure that we continue to exceed our clients’ expectations and support them completely by understanding the pressure points and challenges they face.
The knowledge sharing and community aspect of our industry was very apparent, and a theme that throughout the day, proved how we have become one of the most resilient and adaptable industries when the going gets tough.
Don’t worry, I took notes, so you don’t have to! Here are some of the interesting take away messages that I found from a few of the sessions, that could be helpful to our clients in their upcoming events.

Women’s Major Sporting Events

Featuring: Andrea Nelson (Women’s Cricket World Cup), Rachel Froggatt (IWG World Conference), Michelle Hooper (Women’s Rugby World Cup) and Jane Patterson (FIFA).

I don’t need to tell anyone here in Aotearoa how successful the recent sporting events have been! But the shift in mind-set that sports fans have had has been no accident.

Putting on a great event is amazing, but creating a legacy with inspirational and greater good outcomes is going to keep you on track to succeed. These leaders knew they had done their job when they saw your Tamariki running around excitedly pretending to be Ruby Tui!

The four panellists concurred that building a legacy event required collaborations, partnerships who believed in your vision, community support, and shared learnings. Supporters will always amplify and generate more for you, than those you have had to twist their arm to believe in you.

How did they manage to get so many of us to the games (and pay for tickets)?

  • Women’s sports games are different, therefore the audiences are different. They created an event to suit that audience aka sporting families and proud Kiwis wanting to show their Tamariki what they can achieve. These events therefore had various activations around game time – such as face painting, to make it a full-day family fun event.
  • They made it accessible. Sending buses to pick people up, who otherwise may be limited by budget to get to the game, creating zones for people with sensory issues, wheelchair accessible locations with heaters so you can stay warm.

Health and Safety

I think those in attendance can agree that getting important messages like H&S across to an audience just requires engaging speakers, because wow this was one of the highlights of the conference!

This panel of experts had some excellent tips for those who struggle to get everyone on board with the health and safety plan of your event:

  1. PLAN YOUR H&S FROM THE START. It needs to be embedded in the plan and culture of that event.
  2. Communication – make it interactive and engage your people, it’s not Them vs Us. Talk to them about the issues and challenges you see and ask team members to share things that they have noticed.
  3. There’s a lot of H&S to remember, so telling your team what is relevant to them each day or each step of the day will help immensely!
  4. Challenges change throughout. Be prepared to change what H&S is required – one day might be windy or consider that the final day of pack in everyone has fatigue.
  5. Report the positive AND report the near miss. There’s so much to learn from both instances that can help you achieve the one and only goal of H&S – 100% of people who work or attend an event, 100% go home to their families at night.

Marketing for Events

With issues of oversaturation and more selective eventgoers, the marketing side of an event is crucial. This panel discussion gave some strong takeaways to consider when planning your marketing objectives and outcomes. Here’s a few key ones!

Where to start (a very simplified version):

  1. Identifying your audience.
  2. Where is your audience?
  3. Create an emotional connection.
  4. Strong call to action.

How do you counteract abandon cart mentality? Using all different forms of marketing is key, to ensure you engage with your audience at various touch points.

Data is king. If you don’t know your audience, there are online tools to find them. Use your website GA4, Facebook, or free audience profiling sites like

Use strong creative with an emotional connection. Luckily, events and experiences have this in buckets so use this to your advantage!

Be agile, fail fast and move on. Many forms of today’s media doesn’t have to mean that changing strategies is difficult or costly.


Client’s often find ticketing to be the most nerve-wracking part of an event, which is exacerbated by our culture of being super last minute (made worse post-covid)! This panel of ticketing experts held some great insights and learnings from their large amount of experience.

In the current climate, they saw a lot of positives for ticketed events. Traditionally in a recession, events do well. People want to get out! The tricky thing for event organisers is that while people are keen to get out, they are choosier with their events (strong marketing needed, see above!).

How can you convince purchasers to buy their tickets earlier (looking at you, Aucklanders)?

  • The early bird or presale is still effective.
  • Buy now pay later has come into play – whether this is a “good” societal impact or not, was of debate.
  • Legitimate reselling options need to be available to increase consumer confidence to purchase earlier.

But ultimately, you have to trust the process!


Post-Covid we are back to being able to prioritise sustainability! This panel discussed where you can start and what’s important.

  • Find your experts and engage your key stakeholders.
  • Work backwards – decide on your outputs before your inputs. i.e. Is there somewhere in the area to take compostable cups, or should you do recyclable cups instead?
  • Identify the risks and how you can overcome those, before they occur.
  • Pick one thing and do it well!
  • Users AND organisers are responsible – communication is key to make this connection happen!
  • Find some great free resources from the Sustainable Business Network.

Thanks NZEA for an awesome conference, see you all again next year!

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