Skal Club of Auckland members enjoyed their February luncheon and AGM at the Quality Hotel in Parnell last week with chairman John Smith and his team putting on an array of dishes including salmon and venison. Special ‘Certificates of Appreciation’ were presented to outgoing Members of the 2013 Board with special mention given to Mike Heasman and Brian Downes who had each given eight years to their roles of club secretary and treasurer. Skal Club of Auckland events are held on the first Thursday of every month at a range of restaurants and hotels across the city with the next event being held on Thursday March 6 at Mamma Mia Italian Restaurant in Mission Bay. The annual Skal Industry Bowls Day, being held on 14 March is already sold out with teams from Air Vanuatu, Let's Travel, Mondo Travel, Tour Company, Francis Travel Marketing, TRAVELlinc, Regency Tourism Marketing, The Travel Corporation, Eurovista and Hamilton Skal Club competing for the prized Lloyd Tremain Memorial Trophy. Air Vanuatu is the key sponsor again in 2014 providing a trip to Vanuatu. New membership enquiries are welcomed from leaders of the travel and tourism industry, with further information available on www.skal.org
With the largest delegation from Southern California attending the recent Discover America roadshows in Christchurch and Auckland, the 19 exhibitors from Anaheim and Orange County invited trade partners to an evening of wine tasting as a way of saying 'thank-you'. The event included blind tastings of three Kiwi, French and Californian wines, with competition fierce to be the wine 'expert' and to take out the trophy. It was a team effort, but Lilly Hutch, GO Holidays was selected to take home the main prize of Californian goodies.
During the evening, members of the delegation remarked that Kiwi visitor numbers to the USA and California are on the increase and they were looking forward to a positive 2014. Pepe Avila, director, Anaheim/Orange County Visitor and Convention Bureau says the Australasian market is one of the fastest growing markets for Southern California, and this was reflected in the increased number of exhibitors this year. 'We want to educate the agents that there is so much to do here, for FIT's and groups/incentives. The Disney Parks cater to private events, as does Knott's Berry Farm and we have a pool of hotels and resorts and local venues that come onboard.
Changes are always happening in the tourist mecca of Southern California and John Rozatti, Cortona Inns & Suites updated the trade with the latest plans from Hyatt. 'Opening mid 2014, the Hyatt Place Anaheim Resort/Convention Centre brings the Hyatt brand of hotels back to Anaheim after an 18 year absence. Then early 2015, the Hyatt House Anaheim is scheduled to open, featuring studio, one- and two-bedroom kitchen suites, free wifi, fitness centre and onsite bakery. Both properties will be walking distance to Disneyland Resort Parks,' he adds.
Luanne Miracle, Knotts Berry Farm, says the theme park offers so much more than just fun rides. 'We have a 321 room deluxe hotel with themed rooms, fitness centre, pool and plenty of dining options. Corporates and incentives are also well caterd for. Each of our five themed areas within the park can be booked for an event and we can do pretty much whatever is required. Rides are included in all the areas, so for an event in the Old West Ghost Town, there will be cowboys, stagecoaches and some great rides. These areas can be blocked off during or after park hours.' Miracle also says there are private picnic facilities outside the park with western, Luau and Mexican Fiesta themes.
Louise Sutton, infinity with the Gabrielle Brown and Lisa Palusen, HOT Product, as Lisa passes the batton to Gabrielle before her maternity leave.
Over 70 exhibitors touched down in Christchurch and Auckland this week for the annual Discover America America Exhibition. Organisers were pleased with the 100 agents who attended in Christchurch, and Wayne Mitcham, Visit USA Chair says a record number registered for the Auckland event at SKYCITY. 'We have over 300 agents this year, which demonstrates the interest there is in the market place for the US. It is great to see agents from out of the city make the effort to attend and then we have almost entire offices coming along, from owners/managers to all the consultants. There is a diverse range of product on show and the agents appreciate the new offerings.'
Many exhibitors were regulars to the show and each time they see the agents getting more familiar with their product. Corey Anderson, Travel Oregon says this is their fourth appearance which started with 'baby steps', showing agents where the state was positioned and what there is to see and do. 'This year we are encouraging agents to not only book the rental car, but plan the touring route. Agents have the confidence to sell Oregon, and the next step is to prebook four or five nights accommodation, especially in the busy months.' Kiwi's and Australian's are now the fourth largest international market for Oregon, with over 38,000 visiting the state during 2013.
The Australasian market has also nudged the British off from a first place standing to take the number one spot for visitor numbers to Anchorage, Alaska. Agents popping by the Anchorage booth had the chance to win a trip to Alaska, including flights from Auckland, simply by taking home a USB and looking inside to find the lucky golden ticket. As yet no one has claimed the prize.
A first time exhibitor was American Samoa and executive diretcor, David Vaeafe says he was pleased to be involved with the tradeshow. 'It's about awareness of the destination. If I can engage with agents here, then great. American Samoa received over 500 new Kiwi visitors last year, and that reflects a growing tourism market. We have 12 hotels, with 200 rooms - that includes fales right through to the 104 room Tradewinds Hotel. We offer soft adventure and eco-tourism, plus some of the most stunning beaches in the pacific located in the Manua Island group.'
The AIME welcome reception on Monday night embraced Melbourne's 'weird and wonderful' festive roots and the city's growing trend of 'pop-up everything'. Peter Jones Special Events chose Birrarung Marr, an inner-city park positioned between Melbourne's sporting precinct and the city centre, to be transformed into a vibrant hub of mobile food trucks, live bands and DJs and roaming entertainment, many on lit-up stilts.
'The reception was about showcasing a quintessentially Melbourne event,' says Kristy Foulcher of Peter Jones Special Events. 'Melbourne is all about laneways, and at the moment, pop-up is the big thing. Retail stores might pop up for a month, a foodie stall for a week, and this event literally popped up a few hours before the event for just one night.'
The event attracted 2000 AIME delegates, and saw 10 food trucks serving 8000 tasting dishes.
Destination Marketing Services workshop
Last minute preparations and pre-activity at AIME 2014 (AsiaPacific Incentives & Meetings Expo) were underway over the weekend with Victoria-wide famils and Melbourne venue inspections to view the latest and greatest the city has to offer meeting planners. First up for some of the Kiwi buyers was time at the annual DMS (Destination Marketing Services) workshop.
It was one of Auckland's busiest weekends of the year, with everything from the League 9s and The Lantern Festival to Rapture (Eminem) taking place, but the Flight Centre Expo still managed to pull the crowds when it was held at the ASB Showgrounds on February 15 and 16.
A fun evening after a very busy day, Queensland On Tour had drinks and canapes at the Floating Pavilion at the Viaduct.
Auckland travel agents and product managers topped up their Canada knowledge at Canada Calls last night, with food writer and Canada fan Annabelle White MC-ing on-stage interviews and presentations with local and visiting representatives. The roadshow continues tonight where representatives including Brewster Travel Canada, Rocky Mountaineer and Calgary Stampede will update a Christchurch contingent. Other product involved in the events are Destination British Columbia, Tourism Sun Peaks, Via Rail Canada and local reps from World Journeys, Adventure World, Air Canada, Air New Zealand, APT and Scenic Tours.
<< MC Anabelle White interviews Lindsay Jardine, Clagary Stampede
>> A full house in Pullman Auckland's ballroom
From an attendance of 100 patrons for its first festival in 2003, the 2014 Noosa Food & Wine Festival is set to be a sell out, with 30,000 visitors expected to grace the many marquees that will be set up in and around Noosa from May 15 to 18.
Festival organisers visited Auckland last week for the first of many promotional activities planned to generate interest and awareness of the May event. Jim Berado, festival director pointed out that in 2013, 5% of all attendees were from overseas including more than 800 New Zealanders. 'This market is growing and we want to encourage more Kiwis across to the festival and enjoy the Noosa region.'
The festival will feature 140 chefs, predominately from Australia and New Zealand and 10 from further afield. 'Every year we ensure that there are different experiences and around 40% of the content is new,' says Berado. 'We have return festival goers and we want to give them a new experience each time. This year we are staging a 60's beach party, with six chefs from Sydney creating food from the 60's, complemented with a Beach Boys cover band.'
Included in the programme are wine master classes, a Middle Eastern picnic day, three food trails and a varied music line up.
Tickets are on sale, with general admission priced from A$40. Sunshine Coast Destination is offering exclusive accommodation packages and discounts on general admission and gold passes. Visit noosafoodandwine.com.au/packages
<< Celebrity chefs, Peta Mathias and Rae McVinnie were on hand at Baduzzi Restaurant
>>Flashback to the lunch on the beach marquee 2013
Macau Government Tourist Office hosted a small group of travel wholesale and media partners to lunch at Auckland's Soul Bar as an 'end-of-year' thank you.
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