Background In 2014, TCDC met with Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development (ATEED) to build its partnership with ATEED in economic and tourism development. ATEED saw potential conferencing and incentive opportunities with the Coromandel. Since these discussions, TCDC staff have researched convention bureau structures in New Zealand and what would be involved if Thames-Coromandel were to have such a structure. This was stage 1 that was reported on in brief to the Economic Development Committee in February 2015. The next stage of the research project was to meet with as many conference operators as possible. TCDC visited operators at their properties/businesses, learnt what services they provide, got a feel for the number of conference delegates they host each year and listened to their concerns to gage whether a model that represents the conference industry would be useful to enhance the Coromandel as a destination for conferences, incentives and business events throughout the year. From late April to early June, TCDC visited 28 Coromandel conference operators, at their businesses. This was predominately conference venues, but also included some team building operators, caterers, accommodation venues and restaurants. What did we know pre the visits? There are a number of medium - high quality conference and meeting venues and accommodation options (all of varying styles) located on the Coromandel that are equipped for boutique (20-40) conference and business events. The Coromandel also has a fantastic range of team building and recreational activities for conference, incentive and business event guests to partake in. There is opportunity for people to indulge in Coromandel's finest foods and seafoods plus enjoy the Coromandel's many creative arts giving them a unique Coromandel experience. What is missing? The Coromandel has virtually no profile nationally and internationally to attract conferences, business events and incentive groups to the Coromandel. Without the profile, the Coromandel is not on people's radar as a destination for conferences, incentives and business events when they are choosing where to hold their conference and business event. As at the year ending March 2015, in New Zealand, a total of 521,000 delegates attended 5,400 conferences/conventions. Around 34% of multi-day conferences / conventions and 35% of 1 day conferences/conventions were held in Auckland.* Small meetings and seminars formed the majority (83 per cent) of all meeting/seminar events with 60% having 10-30 delegates and a further 24% having 31-60 delegates. Smaller conferences also dominated conference/convention activity with 36% having 10-30 delegates and a further 24% having 31-60 delegates.* The Coromandel could easily be hosting some of these meetings, seminars and conferences. What we learnt from our visits to conference operators? The Coromandel has perfectly good conference venues that can easily accommodate and service boutique conferences and business meetings. These venues should be getting at least one conference/business meeting booking a week. This is not happening. The majority had few or no bookings for the shoulder season months ahead. For many, conference business and marketing of this area of their business had died off over recent years for a number of reasons. Most operators are now actively marketing this side of their business again, eager to grow it and welcomed the possibility of a convention bureau type model or similar representation. Without a profile, the Coromandel is not a focus in conference organisor's minds that it is a destination for conference, incentives and business events. There are also a range of other venues that attract groups for multi-purpose activities e.g. weddings, sporting groups, school groups etc, that might not be at the same standard to host a corporate conference but are available to meet other groups' needs and budgets. If the Coromandel created a profile and marketing platform for conference, incentives and business events, this could be expanded to also target 'groups' for multi-purpose activities e.g.: corporate functions weddings community and sports groups tour groups events - another platform to advertise the events on. The Coromandel could enhance its marketing tools with a focus on bringing more 'groups' to the Coromandel throughout the year to bring more revenue to our communities and utilise the capital infrastructure provided. The Coromandel can offer a unique conference experience to attract more corporates and groups from neighbouring cities - Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga and beyond but we need to have a profile to do it. We also need an enhanced marketing platform/structure plus a person on the ground to help facilitate enquiries and help organisors to suggest options that gives them the unique Coromandel experience.