Inspiration (& snowballs) abound at i-SITE conference

Innovation, enterprise, and conviviality were celebrated last week at the 2017 i-SITE Visitor Information Network Conference in Ruapehu.

i-SITE conference delegates enjoy Forgotten World Adventures

More than 140 i-SITE staff from around New Zealand enjoyed a winter wonderland experience at the Chateau Tongariro Hotel in Whakapapa Village, after a spring snowfall blanketed the area ahead of the five-day annual conference.

As well as workshops, delegates enjoyed a two-day ‘famil’ where they got to experience first-hand many of the activities that they promote to visitors (including skiing and Forgotten World Adventures) before celebrating the success of their peers at the i-SITE Awards.

Clutha i-SITE and South Taranaki i-SITE were presented with the Training Achievement Award; Wellington i-SITE took out the BookIt Award for sales performance of a centre, while Annette Tanabose from Picton i-SITE received the BookIt Award for individual sales performance; and the Customer Feedback Award went to Auckland SKYCITY i-SITE.

Christchurch i-SITE received an i-SITE Innovation Award for providing an outstanding experience for visitors during a period of upheaval as it moved from a post-earthquake temporary location to a purpose-built facility within the Arts Centre. The award acknowledged Christchurch i-SITE’s successful partnership with the Department of Conservation to deliver a friendly customer service in a uniquely local environment.

Kaikoura i-SITE’s perseverance and tenacity under extreme duress during the November 2017 earthquakes was also recognised with an i-SITE Innovation Award. The i-SITE centre provided the Kaikoura community with a hub during and after the major natural disaster, and continued to provide visitors and locals with the best possible visitor experience​.

Four i-SITE staff were also presented with the i-SITE Contribution Award recognising their dedicated service to the i-SITE Network over 20 years: Louise van de Vlierd, Dunedin i-SITE (Oct 1995), Kathryn Burton, Hastings i-SITE (July 1995), Tina Cornwell, Opotiki i-SITE (1995), Carole Wilton, Tararua i-SITE (March 1995).

“The i-SITE conference is always a fantastic opportunity for our team to get together, celebrate successes, share insights, and inspire each other. i-SITE is dedicated to matching visitors with quality experiences and helping them see and do more – and this year’s conference and awards certainly provided our nationwide team with a memorable experience,” says Paul Yeo, Executive Manager of i-SITE New Zealand.

There are more than 80 i-SITE Visitor Information Centres throughout New Zealand, each of which are individually owned and operated. Each year i-SITEs receive around 8 million visits from travellers seeking independent advice about where to go and what to do in a region, and handle $64 million worth of activity and accommodation bookings for the tourism sector.

The annual i-SITE conference is held in a different location each year allowing owners, managers and staff to explore new locations and visitor activities. Ruapehu i-SITE Manager Kim Treen said the conference provided a major opportunity to highlight “the best of Ruapehu from food, service, accommodation, tourism products, experiences and its people to industry professionals whose job it is to advise travellers on where to go and what to see and do.”

“Everyone I have spoken with has been ‘raving’ about what they saw, did, ate and experienced. Many of the delegates had never been to Ruapehu before and the benefit of them going home with such great memories and experiences cannot be overstated,” she said.

The 2018 i-SITE Visitor Information Network Conference will be held in Greymouth.