Top sales performers from a global pharmaceutical company were treated to an awe-inspiring awards ceremony on a Queenstown mountaintop.

The Brief

This incentive was the reward for the top sales performers of a global pharmaceutical company for achieving outstanding results. Angela Schwitter, Event Director at Sydney-based events agency Events Beyond, says: “The objective was to provide a premium, exclusive experience and make them feel like VIPs in beautiful Queenstown.”

A Warm Welcome

Guests arrived and settled into their luxurious accommodation at either the St Moritz or The Heritage hotel. The group was split across the two properties to ensure that every participant had stunning views over Lake Wakatipu. The locations also ensured that guests could walk into the centre of Queenstown in their free time. That evening, the group travelled by gondola up Bob’s Peak to Skyline Queenstown. They were welcomed with a traditional Maori powhiri before being treated to a performance of the renowned Maori haka (war dance). Guests also had time to try the luge rides and take photos of the spectacular views before enjoying a welcome cocktail party and delicious buffet dinner. A flexible menu ensured the varying dietary requirements across the group were well met.

An Amazing Awards Ceremony

The next day the visitors were split into three groups, then flown by helicopter to a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ awards ceremony at the top of Earnslaw Burn glacier. Following a scenic 25-minute flight, the helicopters set them down in beautiful terrain where a stage was set to make the most of the awe-inspiring alpine location. “A lot of people had never even been on a plane before flying to Queenstown, so they were just blown away by the helicopter flight,” says Schwitter.

She admits the event was a logistical challenge. “We had all the equipment - stage, champagne, glasses, awards, bathroom - sling loaded in crates by helicopter the night before. We had a short window of about an hour to set up. We had a fantastic crew working in overdrive in a small clearing, and the result was amazing. The guest arrival was planned with military precision - we had three groups of about 60 people each flown in on rotation with 10 helicopters. Once they had received their awards and enjoyed the celebrations they were flown back and the next group was at the hangar waiting for the transition.”

Later that evening, guests were divided into five ‘country’ groups to enjoy dinner and relive the day’s experiences, with five of Queenstown’s top restaurants hired exclusively for the occasion.

Spoilt for Choice

The next day was split into morning and afternoon activities, with guests able to choose from five top Queenstown attractions: an exhilarating jet boat ride on the Shotover Jet; a round of golf at the picturesque Kelvin Heights Golf Course; pampering spa treatments at the Sofitel Hotel; a four-wheel-drive tour into Queenstown’s stunning wild terrain with Nomads; or a tour and tastings at three of the region’s award-winning vineyards, complete with lunch at the Postmaster’s Residence restaurant in historic Arrowtown. The evening was rounded off with a cocktail party on the Icon Terrace at The Heritage Hotel, boasting beautiful lake and mountain views.

On day four, guests had the option of trying two of the other activities on the list of leading attractions. Alternatively, they could take a day trip to Milford Sound, located in the World Heritage Fiordland National Park, embarking on a cruise and enjoying lunch on the fiord - an opportunity the majority of attendees found too good to miss. That evening, guests could choose their dining times and companions with a dine around set at four top restaurants, farewelling new friends before departing the following day.

A Shining Success

Schwitter says the trip was wonderful, even down to the weather, with Queenstown putting on crystal-clear blue skies and sunshine for the duration of the trip. The itinerary also ran smoothly, with Events Beyond working closely with destination management company Orange Exchange to produce a slick, high-end programme.

“The guests just loved Queenstown’s fresh air and the beauty and accessibility of nature. They left feeling like they had really enjoyed every experience they could. Those who wanted to do more adrenaline activities like bungy jumping got to do that in their free time, while others who just wanted to relax and enjoy spa treatments could do that, too. It was a pure week of luxury,” Schwitter says.

“The highlight was definitely the awards ceremony. It was an amazing day, the guests were so excited and they were blown away by the beauty of the location and how special it was. The client said it had really lifted the game - they were worried about how they were going to top that next time!”