NT indigenous art at Auckland dinner

A piece of the Northern Territory came to Auckland, literally, when the Northern Territory Convention Bureau and Alice Springs Convention Centre transported an $80,000 piece of indigenous artwork to hang as a backdrop for an intimate dinner in Soul Restaurant. Claudia Renner, Sydney-based business development executive for the NT Convention Bureau, and Kylie Mansfield, sales and marketing manager with Alice Springs Convention Centre caught up with a dozen conference and incentive organisers during a pre-easter dinner function to say 'keep us in mind'.

'At the Top End you could experience the abundance of crocodiles, the subtropical living of Darwin and Kakadu National Park, and down in Uluru/Ayer's Rock it's all about the stunning nature and indegenous culture,' says Renner.

She points out that indigenous culture can easily be incorporated into a CSR-focused programme for a business event, with centres like Voyagers Ayres Rock Resort working closely with indigenous communities through a training academy. 'The NT is coming on strongly with some great programmes to not only aid remote indigenous communities in making a living, but also keeping their unique culture alive.'

The latest product in the state with be Elan Soho, a four-and-a-half star hotel opening in Darwin in July, which will have a Korean restaurant and conference space for 250 people.

Nastassia Dykman, ProMag Publishing; Sophie Baettig, cieevents; Claudia Renner, NT Convention Bureau and Kim Martin, cievents The indigenous artwork, 'Anwekety (Bush Plum Dreaming)' by Polly Ngale hangs pride of place at Soul Restaurant Jilly Videna and Maja Smithson, GO Holidays
Lesley Aldridge, Chimaera Group & Sales Incentive Travel; Kylie Mansfield, Alice Springs Convention Centre Chris Ingram, Tourism Australia and Wayne Harris, GO Conference & Incentive Carol and George Spence, Realise


Celebrity sails away

Royal Caribbean’s Celebrity Solstice sailed from Auckland yesterday for the final departure of the 2013/14 season.  The RCI team and travel industry guests took to the water onboard chartered cruise vessel, Ocean Eagle Charters to bid her 'au revior' and see you next season.

Mark Kinchley, RCI handed out streamers and noisey things to make sure the passengers on the Solstice 'heard her farewell' from Auckland harbour. Kinchley also took time to remind the agents to vote for him and Megan for the upcoming TAANZ awards as RCI has been nominated for cruiseline of the year. He also said the annual RCI roadshow is set down for August 7 at Auckland's viaduct - add to diary.

Celebrity Solstice had a momentous season, recording a year on year increase of 16% of cruise passengers visiting New Zealand. Over 71,000 guests have cruised around New Zealand on board Celebrity Solstice and sister brand Royal Caribbean's Radiance of the Seas and Voyager of the Seas this season. Additionally, the number of guests from the Northern Hemisphere increased by 25% this season, demonstrating that New Zealand tourism has enjoyed a boost in profile within the global cruise tourism industry.

To meet increased demand and interest in the Australasian region, Royal Caribbean will upgrade its fleet with the addition of megaliner, Explorer of the Seas, which will be repositioning from Singapore in October 2015. Read more on the new ship.

Welcome aboard from Mark Kinchley, Royal Caribbean for Jo Drum, HWT Newmarket and Cherie Farmer, United Travel Manly Peter McCormack, national sales manager for RCI Australia/New Zealand, based in Sydney is greeted by Mark Kinchley Team Cruiseabout -  Debbie Christian, head office; Jamie McDonald, Jamie & Roxi FC Cruise & Travel and Amanda Elliott, Cruiseabout Parnell
Celebrity Solstice is about to set sail and it was photo time for Libby Stafford and Shelley Hibbert, Cruise Connections As with Sue Grigg, Cruiseabout Ponsonby, Josh Duncan; FC Head Office and Jess Allan, Cruiseabout brand leader Linda Halliday, HOT Head Office; Megan van den Bogaart, Royal Caribbean and Alison Kearney, HOT Howick
The funnel has blown for departure of Celebrity Solstice for the Royal Caribbean team - Mark Kinchley, Peter McCormack and Megan van den Bogaart Megan van den Bogaart, Royal Caribbean with Richard Hohnson and Adrian Mackie, GO Holidays Cheryl Browne, Cruise World; Jamie McDonald, Jamie & Roxi FC Cruise & Travel; Kalyse Bradley, Cruise World and Megan van den Bogaart, Royal Caribbean
It's noise and streamers time for Mark and Megan.. Hey we are over here.. Au revoir and see you on October 19


Park Hotel Group drops in 'down under'

Park Hotel Group, the chain of luxury and upscale hotels across Asia Pacific, visited Auckland for the first time as part of its second roadshow 'down under'. The group hosted a lunch at The Grill in Auckland before heading to Sydney, Melbourne and Perth to update the travel industry on its latest expansion plans.

With its luxury five-star Grand Park brand and upscale four-star Park Hotel brand, the Park Hotel Group has 10 properties with 3,300 rooms in Singapore, Hong Kong, China and Japan, including Park Hotel Alexandra and Park Hotel Farrer Park which open in Singapore in 2015.

'We're growing and we hope to grow even more,' says Jonathan Milburn, Sydney based director of sales in the Australia and New Zealand market. 'Our first time visit to Auckland is to say that we want to work with the New Zealand market in the future, and that we're here to add value to for you.'

Park Hotel Group has won the Best Regional Hotel Chain at the TTG Travel Awards for both 2012 and 2013, and Milburn says the group is 'hoping for a hattrick this year'.

Vanessa Traille, Cathay Pacific; Jonathan Milburn, Park Hotel Group; Rebecca McCabe, Corporate Travel Management Kim Martin and Mark Ferguson, cievents Hylda Bloomfield, Air New Zealand; Wilna Van Eyssen, EventSmart
Richard Baker, Singapore Airlines; Pauline Cheung, Park Hotel Group; Gordon Bayne, Mondo Travel Grand Park Orchard is the first Singapore hotel to introduce a 'Handy' smartphone for guests, offering free wifi, unlimited 3G and free IDD calls to 27 countries throughout their stay (along with free welcome cocktails) Grand Park Orchard - deluxe room


Cooks a Shore thing

The Cook islands Roadshow reached Auckland's North Shore on Monday March 31. Suppliers and agents converged on The Spencer on Byron in Takapuna.

Tuesday evening saw the roadshow venture across the bridge, bringing the roadshow to the Maritime Museum at the Viaduct. Around 130 agents attended the round table event, where the agents stayed seated and the exhibitors moved from table to table.

Tony Page, Mondo; Sarah Collins and Rachel Mackey, both Cook Islands Tourism
Cook islands greeters Rachel Tavu (left) and Irene Critchley (right) welcome Sue Williams-Warren, United Travel Bethleham; and Shirley Taylor, Taylor Made Travel
Naomi Roberts and Gaby Rocard, both Tandem Travel
And here we are at the Maritime Museum. Meet and greet from the Rarotongan team of Rachel Tavu (left), Stephen Doherty, middle and Irene Critchley (right) for Caroline Sowden and Leena Bhikharidas, HWT Ponsonby
Stephen Doherty, Cook Islands Tourism and Irene Critchley (right) offer a welcome gift to Brooke-Lietz-low and Kim Payne, Flight Centre Remuera
Ruth Turner, Destinations Travel and Vikki Bell, Supreme Tours and Travel get into the island groove at the roadshow
Air New Zealand team of Thomas Gentz, Hylda Bloomfield and Hayley Price were on hand at the roadshow to answer any question agents may have about the airline and service to the Cook Islands
Jane Pearson, Muri Beach Resort and Graeme West, Cook Islands Tourism Lara Michel and Leah Hatwood, Seasonz Travel
Amy Stadlober, United Travel Waiheke and Stephanie Daji, Travelsmart Meadowbank Jenny and Paul Collins, Fine Travel; Sandi Reily-Simmons, Sunset Resort Rarotonga, Daniel Collins, Fine Travel and Sarah Collins, Cook Islands Tourism Lesley Perrie, Planet Travel Marketing, representing Sanctuary Rarotonga, Aitutaki Lagoon Resort & Spa and the Rarotongan Beach Resort & Spa
Rhythmic sounds of the Rarotongan band brought the Cook Islands to the Viaduct


Peregrine Reserve launch

With an introduction line of - 'want to stimulate your clients', Rod Griffith (Griff), sales manager NZ for Reserve and Peregrine launched the Reserve 2014/15 brochure to a full room of travel agents last week. Reserve is a five star product, with all the trimmings, but with an affordable price tag. Griffith's says that the new brochure reflects a reduced price. 'We looked at the prices and have sharpened the pencil - there was some room for movement particularly when you look at the strength of the NZD.'

Each Reserve departure will operate with a minimum of two passengers and a maximum of 12. All the trips can be modified, and Griff points out that most clients do want to add their own touches. 'It's a given, so I want to impress to the industry, that what is written in the brochure is a 'guideline'. We can add a couple of extra days somewhere, change things around - Reserve means flexibility and if a client wants a completely tailor made itinerary, we can do that. We have a specialist team of Reserve consultants to handle just this product.'

The most popular trip for Reserve Mystical Myanmar. Considered and emerging destination, Griff says this trip sells itself. 'It's the romance of Kipling, the history, the colonial hotels and the exotic images conjured when we think of Mandalay and the Irrawaddy River. Sri Lanka Revealed is the best seller for the Indian Subcontinent, and the Essence of Turkey is the most popular in Europe. All of these are more than the average trip,' says Griffith. 'Guests will receive little touches - like a traditional silk scarf made locally for a pillow gift, instead of a chocolate. It's about taking a bit more home.'

Reserve offer trips to Africa, Latin America, Europe, Middle East and North Africa and Asia and the Subcontinent and they all include top-end accommodation  - be it Maharajas palaces, converted monasteries or luxury safari camps; transfers in Mercedes or BMWs; most meals - but with plenty of opportunity to dine local, and guides' gratuities.

Also in attendance was Leah Johnson, Intrepid Travel and Tom Svensen, Gecko's, who have recently received to new positions with the company group.

Meet and greet from Rod Griffith (Griff), Reserve (right) for Tony Page Mondo Takapuna and Rhonda Knight, HOT Milford
Kim Herd, Venture Travel and Carolyn Hedley, the Luxury Holiday Company Leah Johnson, Intrepid Travel catches up with Stuart Jones and Jennifer Staples, Flight Centre Head Office
Paul Collins, Fine Travel and Michele Herald, A Walker's World

<< The team from Fuzion Travel - Stuart McKay, Marie Hanson and Andrew Parke take in the views of Takapuna from The Bruce Mason Centre


>>Mandy Herd, HOT Orewa and Rod Griffith (Griff), Reserve

Rod Griffith (Griff), Reserve; Leah Johnson, Intrepid Travel and Tom Svensen, Gecko's Griff, tells tales of the exotic destinations that Reserve trips venture to


Green green tower of home

Once again the world went green for St Patrick's Day and it started with Auckland's Sky Tower. Tourism Ireland hosted agents, media and industry friends to join in the celebration on March 17.

Marija Gecan, Stamford Plaza Auckland; David Libeau and Maddy Fay, both Stella

Darragh Walsh, Tourism Ireland; welcomes guests

Deborah Alampi and Darren McGregor, both Air France / KLM


<<Getting into the green swing of things… Therese Brooking, A Walker's World; Kathy Cunningham, Empire PR


>>The Sky Tower goes green for St Paddy's Day in Auckland


Mondo makos bowl the competition

It was a shark attack at the SKAL Auckland Bowls Tournament on March 14, with the Mondo Makos taking out the TAANZ Trophy.  Held at the West End Bowling Club, Herne Bay the competition attracted 12 teams and was sponsored by Air Vanuatu (a trip to Vanuatu was won by Kim Herd of the Skaleagues team in a closest to the jack competition).
AAT King Pins came second in the team competition, winning the Lloyd Tremain Cup, and Hamilton Hotshots came third to take the SKAL Trophy.
Winning team Mondo Makos - Ross Manson, Karyn Gaudin, Chris Hammond and Steve Kirwan
Ross McLauchlan, Oceania Tourism Group; Kim Herd, Venture Travel and Kevin Blackford, TravelMemo ready to bowl them out
SKAL members Ross Manson, Mondo Travel and Stu Freeman, TRAVELinc, run through the day's proceedings Ramon Neilson; Richard Elliott, Air Vanuatu; Mandy Veale, Mondo and Biance Laloyer, Air Vanuatu
Yes the tape measure came out on more than one occasion All smiles from team AAT Kings of Alan, Bryan, Gordon Gillian and Celeste Overall bowl winner - Kim Herd, Venture Travel is presented her prize from Air Vanuatu's Richard Elliott
The scoreboard says it all - the TRAVEincsters lost to team Eurovista - just. In island style at the back is Todd Devine, Cherie Final and Stu Freeman (front) with Mark Hutchinson, Air Tahiti Nui, Marianne Ouwehand, Paul Leigh and Tim Forbes
Tim Butcher, Travel Directions (centre) and Selwyn Maynard and Danny Frew, both Francis Travel Marketing with their prizes Team Let's Travel take '5'  - Adam Taylor - Eruera, Auckland War Memorial Museum; Gayle Dickson, Let's Travel; Megan Singleton, Blogger at Large


<<Best dressed, of course, in stylish capes and crowns was the Regency Tourism 'Royals'- Richard Froggatt, Gaye Wood, Jenny Delmont, Pamela Wright


>> Team Let's Travel came a resounding last - well done to Megan Singleton, Gayle Dickson and Julie Carcaterra, Choice Hotels


They’re racing

Corporate Traveller,  a corporate division of Flight Centre NZ, hosted clients to the Auckland Cup races at Ellerslie last week.

Andy Jack, Kim Tipau, both Corporate Traveller; Mark Ferguson, cievents; Voung Tran, GrainCorp Helen Mitshell and Brooke Mattock, both Corporate Traveller, look for a 'winning sign' 5 each way - checking out the form book is Hannah Mortensen, World Vision and Colin Neal, Big Chill


SKAL Auckland February luncheon

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

Brian Downes Treasurer receives a Certificate of Appreciation, presented by Gaye Wood, SKAL Auckland president
Kevin Blackford, Travel Memo and Derek Batchelor-Cook, KiwiRail Scenic Journeys
Mike Heasman, SKAL Secretary receives a Certificate of Appreciation, presented by Gaye Wood, SKAL Auckland president
Lanthia Stewart, North Shore International Academy; Tony Smith, Francis Travel Marketing
Denise Schitko and Erwin Losekoot, AUT University
Wendy Stanton, Acrossia and guest Michael Thomson


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