Virtual conference organisers shout coffees for hundreds of delegates

Christchurch patisserie, Sweet Soul received a visit from Congress delegates Alexandria Lindon-de Boer, Lee Tejada, and Jordan Compton who used their SOS vouchers to buy a selection of treats.

A New Zealand conference organiser has come up with a way to support hospitality operators hard hit by Covid’s toll on the business events industry.

This week over 800 delegates from 29 countries are attending the 16th Congress of the Federation of Asian and Oceanian Biochemists and Molecular Biologists (FAOBMB), planned for Christchurch.

Conference organiser Arna Wahl-Davies says this is the first time New Zealand has hosted a FAOBMB Congress since 1999. But after exploring every option, the organising committee decided it had to be a virtual-only event.

Wahl-Davies says with virtual conferences now replacing in-person events, the organisers were keenly aware many in the event supply chain would be missing out, including all those hospitality venues which conferences like this support.

“So, we thought, wouldn’t it be great if we could buy all 405 New Zealand delegates a coffee and encourage them to spend to support their favourite local café. We wanted to thank attendees for still participating in a sustainable way by saying ‘have a coffee on us’,” she said.

“Which led us to SOS. Via the voucher-gifting platform SOS, we have been able to send each a $20 voucher which they can redeem at any of the over 2,000 New Zealand businesses on the SOS platform, using the inKind App.

“That’s over $8,100 worth of coffee and cake going into local economies. It’s a small way to give back.”

Business Events Industry Aotearoa (BEIA) chief executive Lisa Hopkins says this is a great example of business events supporting local businesses and communities.

“With conference groups unable to meet face-to-face and contribute economically and socially to the country, many organisations are missing out on the benefits of business events,” Hopkins said.

“Congratulations to the FAOBMB Congress organisers for thinking about ways to support local industry. Every bit helps.

“By pushing forward with the event in a digital format they can carry on the important work of sharing knowledge and information about Covid, and other diseases with experts around the world.”