Destination incentive and travel managers ICEworks organised a high end "once in a lifetime" incentive in Auckland and Queenstown for a group of Argentinians.
A health food company took 90 delegates, including partners, from across Argentina and flew them from Santiago to Auckland International Airport.
The client wanted an incentive that gave delegates a “once in a lifetime” experience. It had to be all inclusive so guests did not spend any of their own money, except on shopping, with Queenstown, rugby and Maori culture as must haves. The trip was a reward tailored for executive management and top revenue earners from the company’s national supermarket chains, health food outlets, online retailers and high end boutique retail stores. Though they had a substantial budget the client wanted to maximise the experiences rather than expensive hotel stays.
First stop was Auckland for three nights followed by a final three nights in Queenstown. Destination incentive and travel managers ICEworks competed against three other locations; St Petersburg, South Africa and Dubai in bidding for the account. “We won the account because we were able to offer a seamless event that included 'closed door' opportunities not generally available to the public,” managing director Keri Davis said.
In Auckland activities began with city and beach tours featuring pretty Mission Bay where guests stopped for a quintessential Kiwi favourite – Hokey Pokey ice cream. A powhiri, or welcome ceremony, greeted delegates on the steps of Auckland Museum, followed by a private cultural performance and reception inside the museum’s Maori village. A club rugby game and special skills session with former All Blacks Buck Shelford and Ron Williams proved a hit as did a major rugby match at famous ground Eden Park. The group took a day trip to Waiheke Island, a 35-minute ferry ride from down town Auckland, for a tour and wine tasting at Stonyridge Vineyard followed by lunch to the sounds of jazz favourites Nairobi Trio.
A half day conference was set up at a rural Marae which presented delegates with a unique insight into Maori culture. The delegate meeting took place inside the wharepuni, the principal house of the village, while partners joined local Maori women to learn flax weaving, gardening and food preparation, how to dance with poi (a light ball on a string) and make them, and to assist with setting up the wharekai for dinner. After the meeting the entire group was able to take part in the lifting of the hangi (meal). An evening of music, food and fun around a huge bonfire ensued. “Being able to fully immerse into Marae life was a major highlight of the trip,” Mr Davis said.
A sample of the activities undertaken in the South Island’s adventure capital included a jet boat arrival with KJet up the Kawarau River and across Lake Wakatipu to Queenstown; a helicopter flight over the picturesque Southern Alps to Milford Sound landing on the snow for a glass of champagne, followed by a two hour cruise on the stunning fjord including a gourmet lunch; a cruise aboard the TSS Earnslaw and an exclusive sheep show and lunch at Walter Peak Station; plus free time for shopping which the Argentinians “love” to do.
Seamless internal flight and ground transportation logistics meant hassle free travel. The group was escorted by ICEworks trip directors and a New Zealand-based Spanish-speaking guide together with the client’s own team of interpreters, tour captain and a photographer. Every aspect of the trip was carefully managed right down to menu selections, wine choices, air-conditioning temperatures in venues and on the coaches, entertainment, airport check-in with advanced seat allocation, and separate luggage transfers so the group did not once have to handle their luggage. “We were able to check the luggage in and issue boarding passes before the guests arrived at the airports so they simply walked from the coach straight to the departure gate.” Because the group occupied almost every seat on the internal flights, ICEworks arranged a special on board video greeting in Spanish that was made in advance in Argentina. The disposable head-rest covers were branded with the company logo and as an added unique touch; healthy snacks - products of the client’s company – were served on board.
Food and gifts
The food and presentation of it proved popular and the Argentinians experienced a wide selection of meals including a fun and rowdy Kiwi barbecue. There was fine dining at the Auckland Sky Tower’s revolving restaurant Orbit, and 'The Great New Zealand Buffet' at Queenstown’s Skyline began with a champagne reception followed by dinner window-side, affording beautiful views over the lake town at night.
Delegates returned to their rooms each evening to find quality New Zealand gifts such as Merino wool clothing, All Blacks rugby jerseys, bone carvings, art, a photographic coffee table book depicting New Zealand landscapes, and Central Otago wine.
Mr Davis said the group were impressed by New Zealand’s clean, green countryside. They felt safe and were taken with the “friendly and obliging nature” of Kiwis. Service levels exceeded any other destination they had been to and everything ran to plan. “At ICEworks we like to say 'We work hard so you don't have to', and we carry this ethos throughout everything we do.” The hard work paid off and some of the group liked New Zealand so much they have even sent their children back as exchange students.