Amway Malaysia and Singapore had been impressed with a previous event held in Queenstown for its Diamond achievers. But New Zealand shone just as brightly when hosting its much larger Amway Leadership Seminar.

The Company
 
The annual five-day-four-night Amway Leadership Seminar (ALS) rewards the direct selling company’s outstanding distributors, as well as allowing delegates to share experiences and future goals. Planning started in December 2012 when Amway Malaysia/Singapore’s Diamond group visited Queenstown for a hugely successful event. Anna Black at Auckland-based destination management company General Travel says: “They asked if New Zealand could handle their big group and we said “Yes, of course!”
 
The Brief
 
The ALS New Zealand programme, held 3-13 December 2014, promised business and a lot of fun for the 580 delegates from Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei. Black says: “The requirement from the client was to have cultural elements, good food and varying levels of activities across the adrenalin and outdoor experiences that New Zealand is known for.” Cue an action-packed itinerary that included sheep shearing, doing the haka and bungy jumping off the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
 
The Programme
 
Amway’s Diamond top-level achievers flew in first for an additional three-day programme. The group of 60 delegates spent three nights at the Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour where their own, separate business event was also held, before transferring to The Langham. The Diamond programme was “very high-end”, Black says. Activities included a trip to Hampton Downs Motorsport Park in Waikato for a Lamborghini and Ferrari driving experience, plus go-karting and a 4x4 adventure with a bushcamp lunch at OffRoad NZ in Rotorua. A ‘lifestyle day’ incorporated a cruise on the Auckland Harbour on a luxury launch, before a short tour of Waiheke Island, an olive oil tasting, then lunch at Cable Bay Vineyard.
 
The rest of the delegates flew into Auckland on staggered itineraries between 6-8 December, with the next tier of achievers staying at The Langham, and the final tier staying at the SkyCity Grand Hotel. The entire group assembled for a business meeting at the SkyCity Auckland Convention Centre on December 8, with a presentation by inspirational speaker and entrepreneur Vinh Giang.
 
A 70s disco-themed gala dinner with awards and recognition was held the following evening at the same venue. “It was quite an affair, with everyone dressing up, plus entertainers and a lot of fun.” Mayor of Auckland Len Brown even made an appearance to welcome guests and sing Maori song Pokarekare Ana. “That was seen as quite an honour,” Black adds.
 
Aside from these joint elements, delegates rotated across three modules showcasing the best of New Zealand’s nature and culture. The first was an Auckland sightseeing day, which included a jetboat ride on Auckland Harbour and time for shopping.
 
The second day offered the option of a ‘Wild or Mild’ experience. The Mild option incorporated the Agrodome Farm Show in Rotorua, followed by a trip to the top of Mount Ngongotaha on Skyline Gondola complete with luge activities; while the Wild alternative was a free day in Auckland that incorporated either an Auckland Bridge Bungy, or a SkyWalk or SkyJump activity off Auckland’s Sky Tower.
 
The highlight, however, was a ‘Trilogy’ day, starting with a guided tour of the stunning Waitomo Glowworm Caves, before driving on to Te Puia, the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute in Rotorua. At Te Puia, guests received a traditional powhiri welcome before enjoying an interactive concert of Maori culture, including trying their hand at a traditional poi dance for women and a haka (warrior dance) for the men. Black notes: “There is a natural affinity between Malaysian people and Maori culture and a lot of the words are similar between the two languages. They took hundreds and hundreds of photos which has to be a good sign!” This was followed by a tour of the mud pools and geysers in the thermal valley before guests were treated to a half-lobster lunch, Kiwi barbecue-style.
 
The group finished the day with a special tour and medieval-themed buffet banquet at The Hobbiton Movie Set, complete with costumed characters and games. “It was a huge day,” Black says. “They left around 7am and got back at midnight, but everyone was so excited throughout the day and went to bed smiling.”
 
Challenges and Triumphs
 
“There was so much co-ordinating required, with 20 coaches in different places on any given morning – you just had to be organised,” Black says. “Amway came for three site inspections. They know what their people like and Amway, Malaysian-based agency Holiday Tours and General Travel all know each other and work well together. The programme offered small challenges every day but we had daily debrief meetings to discuss what went well and what needed attention the next day.”
 
One issue was loading 350 people onto chartered coaches and getting them to the next activity on time. Delegates were gathered in a 'staging zone' at the meeting point, then brought out to the coaches group by group. Blacks says: “We loaded nine coaches and had them off in 18 minutes, which was pretty impressive.”
 
Professional guides were brought in to assist on the coaches, half English-speaking and half Mandarin-speaking. “It was a bit of a challenge sourcing them because it was high season in a busy New Zealand summer, but we managed and it worked well,” Black says.
 
Providing quality food and beverage was a key element and the lobster meal at Te Puia was a particular logistical feat, Black notes. “Te Puia had to contact four different New Zealand-wide suppliers to get 100-120 lobsters on each of the three days, and they had to be fresh, not frozen – and Rotorua is inland! They managed it very well.”
 
The Outcome
 
Early reports shows customer satisfaction at around 90% for the ALS trip, Black says. “We are delighted by such high customer feedback. We are waiting for the formal details, but this puts the ALS Auckland 2014 group on a similar high rating to the Amway Diamonds Queenstown 2012 group, which was quoted as 'the best ever Diamonds trip'. That's just fantastic and we're so happy as we all put our hearts and souls into this project.”
 
An Amway spokesperson adds: “We had great support and professionalism from the teams, including an excellent working relationship between Malaysian agent Holiday Tours and General Travel in New Zealand. We were really appreciative and thankful for the work done by Tourism New Zealand and ATEED, who made this possible, and all of the workers at the places that we visited. They were wonderful hosts and we had an exceptional experience.”