by Rosemarie Dawson
Rosemarie Dawson is the MD of Business Professional Services Limited, an association management company with experience in organising and managing events of all kinds for the voluntary sector.
An annual conference is the highlight of the year and creates a memorable buzz that involves everybody in the team – for others they are an unavoidable imposition with additional demands on human resources. The question is always – where and when to hold the conference for greatest effect and best attendance. With an abundance of choices in the midrange around the country the selection is frequently decided by special attractions in the area or features that relate directly to the industry or profession that the association serves. Once these have been exhausted over a period of time, it is natural to look further afield to more exotic destinations with easy access. In this regard Queensland and Fiji are obvious choices with the extra benefits of enticing natural environments and a great mix of cultural and entertainment options as a bonus.
But there are other possibilities in our country’s Pacific sphere of influence that are easily overlooked, but worthy of consideration. Resorts in the Polynesian islands have the capacity, with reservations, to accommodate conferences and to handle a good number of delegates in tropical surroundings. Lacking the distractions of theme parks and night life, there are few serious detractions to entice delegates away from the conference. Features generally include wholesome recreational and water activities together with sightseeing in a very pleasant climate.
A newcomer to the line-up of destinations is the island of Niue, three and a half hours hours by air from Auckland, where everybody speaks English and New Zealand currency is in use. A recent visit in the shoulder season made me aware of the addition of convention facilities at the island’s only resort that will be completed midyear. Having previously organised and participated in conferences in Fiji and on Rarotonga I could see the potential in this new venue in a unique and diverse country that has significant natural features and is relatively unspoiled by tourism.
Speaking from experience it does not require much greater effort to plan and set up an event with the assistance of a competent travel agent. In addition to its greater novelty and attraction to members and their close families, going offshore also has the potential to be promoted to Australian delegates from the same industry. Speakers and sponsors presenting at the conference will also be attracted in the expectation of a captive audience to warrant their investment in time and money. I would be happy to share my favourable impressions with colleagues, who are considering an offshore conference.