the Rugby World Cup presents unmissable opportunities for exporters to create a lasting impression on customers.
BY MARY MACKINVEN
Next year’s Rugby World Cup (RWC) is expected to attract a television audience of about four billion people.
But the Employers and Manufacturers Association Northern (EMA) is promoting the message the tournament is not just about 48 games; it’s about building a legacy that will sustain businesses and brands for years to come. EMA public relations manager Marie Hasler says the association is holding a raft of workshops and other activities in the lead-up. A key event, Thrive New Zealand 2011 — billed as “the big day out for business” — will be held on October 20, four days before the grand final match in Auckland. It will be aimed at domestic and overseas business visitors, present inspiring speakers and showcase New Zealand business success.
Seminars in July to August will focus on customer service and short time-frame fixes; in September-October, the thrust is on help with networking events, including meeting a premier rugby team.
An idea that emerged at the EMA’s Legacy2011 conference in October was businesses could give staff inspiring new RWC-related tasks that, when combined with festival fever, could heighten business morale.
The Ministry of Economic Development has set up the New Zealand 2011 office to connect businesses with international visitors at events during the RWC.
A major tool is the free-to-join New Zealand 2011 Business Club, www. nz2011.govt.nz, which is also the online home of the Real New Zealand Festival and the recruitment portal for the RWC volunteer and hosting programme. Registrants can be alerted to events to attend and list their own relevant business event.
New Zealand Trade and Enterprise’s website has briefs on the home countries of the 16 participating team, tips for getting businesses ready for the RWC and links to sources of help to develop sustainable business practices that will save money and enhance a firm’s image with customers. There are also tips on tendering to deliver goods and services to RWC licence-holders and on applying to Licensing in Motion to be a licence-holder (though at time of writing no licensees were sought).
Verona-Meiana Putaranui, Te Puni Kokiri communications account manager, relationships and information, says opportunities include opening marae for concert-style experiences and hangi. Workshops go over how to provide these experiences as a business while keeping integrity intact, and issues such as food safety and Qualmark ratings.
Putaranui says a recent model for such activities was the international rowing championships at Lake Karapiro, where five local marae co-ordinated to perform the official opening ceremony and had sole rights to produce Maori products and services.
Rugby Travel & Hospitality (RTH) exclusively creates, manages and implements the official travel and hospitality programme for the RWC — that is, it sells the tickets and travel packages and provides hospitality at matches.
Operations director David White says RTH is also putting up the $10 million Eden Park Pavilion on the park grounds over four months in 2011. The two-tier air-conditioned and carpeted marquee structure will have eight restaurants showcasing New Zealand produce and entertainment, exclusively for the nine matches at Eden Park.
“It will be the place to entertain your guests,” he says.
Local architects, electricians, engineers and plumbers will be involved in the building and more than 1000 staff will be employed at each match for security, performances and waiting.
BUSINESS VALUE LIMITED FOR SOME
Most of the Fletcher Building group businesses are planning to host customers at matches, at both a regional level with local customers and for major customers, including some from overseas, at Eden Park, says Philip King, general manager investor relations.
“This is a project we are incredibly proud of and we want to be able to showcase during the RWC.”
One of the businesses, Tasman Insulation, has 10 tickets to each Auckland match for inviting key customers. Pre-and post-match entertainment will be part of each occasion. General manager Tony Te Au says guests could be a mix of domestic and Pacific Island clients.
Exporting only contributes 10% of revenue and some client countries, such as India, don’t play rugby, he says.
The NZ Merino Company will be firming up plans in the next few months for its many ideas to make the most of RWC opportunities, says chief executive John Brackenridge.
“We should be thinking laterally and holistically about the number of people coming through and having positive experiences with our products while they are here.
“This is about a lasting experience, not a short-term transactional gain.”
Energy-saving light bulb manufacturer Energy Mad has no plans to involve clients in the RWC because 90% are too distant, or from countries that don’t care about rugby, says managing director Dr Chris Mardon.
“Our business is motorsport, not rugby. We’d be better to bring customers to the local speedway. “We might get a couple of offshore visitors pop in our door [if they are here].”
Worldwide television coverage might, however, raise awareness of his city, Christchurch, he says. [END]