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Events strategy paying dividends for Wellington

11 Dec 2014

A broad programme of events across the sport, performance, business and culinary domains drove a 7.85% increase in hotel rooms sold in Wellington over the past three months.

VWOAP Hannahs Laneway Banquet 01
Visa Wellington On a Plate helped drive visitation in August

Positively Wellington Tourism (PWT) Chief Executive David Perks says while the World of WearableArt™ Awards Show and All Blacks vs South Africa test had been huge drivers, other events had also clearly had an impact on the growth from August to October. 

“Despite this year’s All Blacks test running a month later in September, total rooms sold across August were actually up slightly and weekend rooms sold were only down 1.7%,” he says. 

“Given the Bledisloe Cup test night saw the city’s hotels at 99% occupancy in 2013, that’s an exceptional result for August to have held its own this year thanks to conference activity and events such as Visa Wellington On a Plate, Beervana and Lux.”

According to the Commercial Accommodation Monitor, guest night growth in Wellington city was nearly double that of the national rate across August to October, says Councillor for Economic Development Jo Coughlan.

 “What was once one of Wellington’s quieter times, is now one of our city’s most vibrant and exciting periods. Since WOW®, Visa Wellington On a Plate and Beervana, guest nights through August-October have risen by 32%. By focusing on a year-long approach to events, the city is supporting the economic sustainability of businesses and is a huge part of why we have such a vibrant hospitality sector.”

This year’s All Blacks test drove a 17.5% increase in guest nights for September on the same month in 2013, while the expansion of the World of WearableArt™ Awards Show had contributed to a 9.6% increase for October.

Steve Martin, Hotels Regional Chair for the Tourism Industry Association says;

“The extension of WOW’s season this year, along with the clustering of other fantastic events across that period has been a welcome boost for all the city’s hotels, particularly around weekends. In the last ten years the city’s available accommodation has grown significantly, yet our occupancy rates have still risen in what’s traditionally a shoulder season.”

The impact of those particular three events is also well beyond guest nights, Mr Perks says.

“We now have an established programme of quality events that tell the Wellington story, while also driving new spend across a range of sectors. Visa Wellington On a Plate alone attracted over $1 million worth of media coverage profiling the culinary capital – a positioning that the festival has cemented for Wellington over the past six years.”

“The bringing together of a multi-week culinary festival and the exceptional Beervana event has been a fantastic initiative, and this year the Lux light festival was also timed to coincide. This type of collaboration provides a really powerful visitor experience and enables the events to leverage each other’s networks and audiences.”

Visitors also tend to spend more when travelling for an event, Mr Perks says.

 “Research indicates that visitors spend three times more than locals when coming to town for an event, on top of ticket costs, and that they stay in town for an average of 2.7 nights. We believe when people travel for an event, the trip becomes a special occasion. That makes them more likely to shop for a special outfit or memento, and to outlay more for things like dinner and going out afterwards. It becomes about making the most of the experience.”

Following on from the October launch of the ‘It’s Never Just a Weekend When It’s in Wellington’ campaign, figures for November – which saw the capital host the Four Nations league final - should also come in strong, Mr Perks says.

While major events are huge drivers of visitation and profile, showing how great Wellington is on any weekend through brand campaigns and experiential projects such as The Capital pop up city is also hugely important to promoting the city 52 weekends a year.

“We’ve received incredible feedback on the new It’s Never Just a Weekend When it’s in Wellington campaign, which has really captured the vibrancy and energy of a Wellington weekend any time of the year.”

With an Elton John concert and marquee international sporting events such as ICC Cricket World Cup and FIFA U-20 World Cup adding to the established line-up in 2015, the coming year’s schedule provides a huge opportunity for Wellington, Councillor Coughlan says.

“I strongly encourage businesses to get thinking what they can bring to this exciting year. It’s a huge opportunity for us all to lift things to the next level and reap the rewards.” 

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