Culture & Events

Showcasing venues behind closed doors

Melissa Williams and her Business Events team book the events at Claudelands the public can’t buy tickets to.

Melissa oversees the work of the Business Events team responsible for managing H3 venues for conferences, functions and meetings – events residents are often unaware of.

The team comprises Melissa, Sheree Hodges, Julia McLean and Tracey Packwood, who has progressed through H3’s Graduate Programme and joined the Business Events team in April 2019. The conferences, functions, trade shows and meetings they book generate a significant percentage of H3’s revenue and often involve as much planning and logistical effort as hosting a concert or professional sports match.

“The public often isn’t aware that such a vast range of business events are taking place at our venues each week, and don’t have the opportunity to attend these,” Melissa says.

Often the business events are showcasing the venue at its best, and in particular its versatility.

Attendances for the private functions can go from a handful of people for a board meeting to several thousand for a large multi-day industry conference during which most of the venue is in use.

The Business Events Team’s work isn’t limited to Claudelands, and the team also books events for The Grandstand (part of the wider Claudelands precinct), Seddon Park and FMG Stadium Waikato.

“Claudelands is definitely our flagship venue, but we have a product for every person’s needs,” says Julia. “We have a lot of regular long-standing regular clients using FMG Stadium Waikato.”

The diversity of customers is also startling: medical and educational sectors, professional organisations, even entire industries like quarries – complete with diggers and graders which can be
displayed both inside and outside Claudelands.

“It’s really important we understand their event – their clients and attendees, their industry and their challenges,” Melissa says.

“Some of our pieces of business are two or three years in the making,” adds Julia. “We’re each working with a minimum of 30 clients at any one time.”

There’s no typical week for the Business Development Team: “You need to be very open to having a varying week,” Melissa says. “We’re constantly reprioritising because we’re lucky enough to represent the venues and dealing with clients from all over the country, on an exciting array of different events.”

Success is repeat business and positive referrals which generate new relationships.

Once the clients are into their event period, it becomes a wider H3 team effort. H3’s operational and technical teams are fundamental to event delivery, helping ensure successful events and happy

Representing the venue means having a presence at trade shows around New Zealand and pitching for business in a highly competitive sector.

Julia says the team don’t consider themselves to be working on sales – they view their roles as managing relationships and providing a solution.

Melissa is proud of the “amazing reputation” her team has built in recent years: “People trust they are going to receive an outstanding experience while they are here, and we pride ourselves on doing all we can to make sure that happens.”

“There’s a lot of awareness (of H3) now, and people’s perceptions of Hamilton are improving, too.”

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