Virtual experience brings Rotorua destination to life

A new, innovative and exciting way of presenting Rotorua’s conference venues and tourism activities to event organisers was a huge success.
Destination Rotorua collaborated with The Virtual Famil (TVF) to host its first virtual familiarisation to professional conference organisers (PCOs) based in Sydney, taking them on a little trip through Rotorua while in the comfort of their own homes and offices.
Covid-19’s global impact on travel means that international PCOs and buyers are currently unable to travel to destinations such as Rotorua to scout locations, although they’re keen to start planning for 2021 and beyond. During location visits, PCOs also want to see what additional entertainment, accommodation, activity and restaurant options are available for event attendees to experience in their down time or once their event has concluded.
While Rotorua is perfectly suited for hosting events for up to 4,000 guests, a new solution was needed to demonstrate this. Enter the virtual familiarisation (or “famil”) tour.
Destination Rotorua’s business events manager Craig Murray said, “One positive impact from Covid is the enthusiasm of event organisers to partake in innovative, creative solutions to experience prospective conference destinations.”
TVF is a new joint venture between industry experts in event management, travel and tourism industries. TVF’s aim is to work alongside New Zealand tourism operators and destination marketers to target audiences worldwide by combining digital showcases with high-quality memorabilia from a selected destination.
Organiser and TVF partner Deb Gee said, “Without visiting a destination in person, planners are faced with a huge challenge going forward. We are looking at The Virtual Famil as a way to reduce uncertainty with bookings, enhance the digital famil experience and help the Kiwi tourism industry recover with a growth in future events and conference bookings.”
For the inaugural Rotorua tour, the planners booked their virtual famil then received an interactive goodie box the day before their one-hour online Zoom session which kicked off with a traditional Māori greeting. The guests then explored accommodation options, met keynote speakers and even browsed restaurants.
The goodie box was filled with Rotorua-made or inspired treats such as a bottle of wine from Rotorua’s own winery Volcanic Hills, cheese, ingredients from T.K. @ Home to make crackers, beauty products from Polynesian Spa, and a few other items. The guests then enjoyed to a live wine tasting with Volcanic Hills’ Brent Park, and a cooking demo from the Terrace Kitchen team.
Craig said, “Rotorua is not only a great place for tourists to visit, but conference organisers also value our destination as a great location to host events. Our central North Island location has a number of benefits for PCOs and delegates, as are the vast array of conference venue types and sizes we have available.
“Besides that, there is just so much for conference delegates to enjoy and experience while they’re here. It’s very common for  conference delegates to extend their stay in order to take advantage of our natural, geothermal, cultural, adventure and family activities once the events conclude.”


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