Outgoing ChristchurchNZ business events head Megan Crum looks back on three year journey

Megan Crum (bottom left) with the ChristchurchNZ team at MEETINGS 2024.

Megan Crum is about to step down as Head of Business Events at ChristchurchNZ. She spoke with CIM about the journey to rebuild Christchurch’s business events sector from the ground up.

“Pre earthquakes, Christchurch had 24 per cent of market share for business events, we were second largest and of course then it was nothing [following the 2011 earthquake],” said Crum.

“We had a lot of capability building that needed to be done and the opportunity to host MEETINGS in 2022 helped tick off a number of things and give exposure to the wider industry and Australian buyers.”

The chance to host MEETINGS again after more than a decade in the newly opened Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre both attracted a “whole lot of new people” to the city and informed the wider community what benefits business events bring, particularly in the off-peak season.

Those city wide benefits are established now, with hotel occupancy this May sitting around the 80s and 90s for many properties thanks to the more than 30,000 delegates visiting Christchurch – the biggest month since before 2011.

“It’s just hitting its straps now and from a bidding perspective, we’ve gone back into the international market,” said Crum.

Australia is the biggest international market but Asia Pacific is also in Christchurch’s sights, with big wins such as the Asia Pacific Seed Congress in 2023 attracting 1,100 people from more than 45 countries.

The launch of the Tuwanha Advocate Programme and appointing an Australian and Domestic Business Events BDM in Australia are all part of the strategy to regaining pre earthquake market share.

The implementation of the Conference Legacy Research Programme to understand the beyond tourism value of business events for all of New Zealand is probably the legacy Crum is most proud of.

“Finding out what the value the true value of business events will help with that longer term funding,” said Crum.

Curating a PCO education focused famil programme for both leaders and emerging leaders is another program that will bring long term benefits. The famil participants are encouraged to bring a younger emerging talent from the company or PCO to particpate.

“PCOs don’t really have a good education pathway,” she said. “So rather than doing cocktails and sunsets and helicopter flights, we’ve developed some amazing educational programmes that have also showcased venues and suppliers.

“The focus has been to get them in and support them and their emerging leaders. It is about developing an industry that the [younger] generation wants to sustain.”