Sunday, March 29th 2020.


Eric Moris
the ultimate incentive travel destination


By Eric Moris, Managing Director - Business Pass Travel & Incentive Company


Thanks to Christophe Verstraete from euromic – events and destination management partnership,  a selected group of hosted buyers from Belgium and France recently had the opportunity to attend AIME 2012 in Melbourne, Australia.


warfFrom start till end we were all pampered – or should we admit, spoiled. Flights where offered in business class on Qantas Airways. This was a unique opportunity to experience the new A380 in full operation. Upon arrival we benefited from a straight transfer to the perfectly located Hilton South Warf.

AIME is one of the best trade shows. Not only the perfect organisation by Reed Travel Exhibition but it is a ‘human’ show due to the size and length of it. The number of exhibitors allows for more than 12 appointments per day without stress and without suffering from jetlag, enabling buyers to meet suppliers from all over Australasia that you can’t meet in the European shows.

performanceThe Melbourne Convention Bureau did put everything possible in place for a warm welcome, including a great reception and a fantastic lunch at the Melbourne Convention Center. A special act from a local top star brought us an amazing performance that put us in the right mood. This music and fun made the start of our journey “down under” simply startling.

After the show and with a database of new contacts and opportunities we were ready for our post tour to New Zealand. Exploring the land of Kiwis was a great initiative of Christophe, who coordinated this program in close collaboration with Mrs. Anna Hayward from the Auckland Convention Bureau ( and Mrs. Kylie Britain from Destination Queenstown (

The first “European Famil” (as they say “down under”) to New Zealand, the ultimate incentive travel destination, was going to happen. The unknown mystery of our most far away neighbours would finally be revealed. I can assure you it’s a precious land, clean, green with amazing beautiful landscapes, native rainforests, hidden streams and waterfalls, sparkling lakes, stunning white sand beaches, over 200 Aucklandmountain peaks, volcanic activity: bubbling mud, enormous gushing geysers, steamy vents, natural hot pools... and I can tell you “Kiwis are very friendly”!

Our host Mrs Anna Hayward from the Auckland Convention Bureau had pre-arranged everything from a quick check at the airport to a priviledge access at the Air New Zealand Lounge. I still don’t know how she managed it, but a brand new 777 flew us to Auckland. How can a trip be more enjoyable?

Upon arrival in Auckland we were treated as VIP’s. But this was only the start of a surprising discovery trip. A first surprise awaited the group – two helicopters for a scenic tour and transfer downtown. A perfect way to start the discovery of the “Little Sydney”, as Auckland is sometimes described, with its beautiful Freeman bay and its own bridge.

HarleyThe Langham Hotel (, one of the city’s top hotels, became our home.
We were expected for dinner in The Wharf, an exceptional function center ( With its unique location surrounded by the sparkling waters of the Waitemata Harbor and nestled beneath native Pohutukawa trees, this was the place for our stylish dinnner. The Orange Group ( managed to bring in the local flavours and traditions with a special act during entertainment. 

We thought the trip couldn’t get better, but the next day started with another surprise – an Auckland City Harley Davidson Tour! They brought everything, including adapted safety garment and leather jackets. We were ready for a great ride through the city streets. The bikers finally dropped us at the harbor. On a private vessel we crossed the bay to Waiheke Island. This is for sure one of the preferred destinations for incentive groups when visiting Auckland. The variety on such a small island with Vineyardmany vineyards, olive groves and stunning landscapes gives you everything in a nutshell.

On Waiheke Island we visited a couple of venues: olive oil producers, the stunning Cable Bay Restaurant ( and enjoyed a great lunch at the Mudbrick Vineyard Restaurant ( By using all means of transport we returned to the city with the fast ferry service. This was one of the opportunities to mingle with the locals.

Dinner was served at the Clooney ( had our own Georges with us! We had an enjoyable gastronomic dinner at this outstanding restaurant of Auckland, with a chef that melds the tradition of classical cuisine with a contemporary approach.


sailing sailing

The next morning we were invited for a “Formula 1” experience on the water.
We all became trainees and members of the crew on Explore NZ’s authentic America’s Cup racing yacht (www. Sailing (racing) on the waters in Auckland’s harbor, what a feeling, wind, water, sun and GREAT FUN!

QueenstownWith a little sadness at the thought of having to leave Auckland, we took a two-hour Air New Zealand flight to Queenstown. Another warm welcome was given by Kylie Britain and Louise Jennis of Destination Queenstown. They had the challenge to show us the Southern Hemisphere’s premier lake and alpine resort, surrounded by majestic mountains and nestled on the shores of crystal clear Lake Wakatipu in two days. A short transfer took us to the Sofitel Queenstown Hotel and Spa ( situated in the thriving heart of Queenstown.

Kylie & Louise provided us with an overview of the look and feel of Central Queenstown by taking us for a stroll through the city. Immediately you can sense that this region is renowned for incredible adventure activities and spectacular outdoor terrain such as skiing, snowboarding, bungee jumping, safariparagliding, jet boating, sky diving… You name it, it’s there. There’s a permanent buzz in downtown Queenstown, where you can find a fantastic choice of restaurants - we enjoyed the Wai Waterfront Restaurant – and a very lively bar scene. Here you can find après ski time in winter and summer!

The next day started with Nomad Safaris ( ) for a “Highlights of Queenstown” 4 WD tour on the magnificent hills around the region, which took us to some of the “Lord of the Rings” spectacular filming locations.
After a drive through an awe-inspiring canyon and some gold digging, we arrived in the historic Arrowtown for some shopping before proceeding to the Amisfield Winery for a relaxing Sunday lunch in the sun.


Lords of the ring lords of the ring Lords of the ring


And we thought we had an easy Sunday afternoon. No way in Queenstown. It was time to pump up the adrenaline! We got wet and wild with a jet boat experience on the waterways! It was a thrilling ride that combined speed and trust in the driver’s limits. What a close encounter with the canyons and water rapids!

Jetboat Jetboat


Since it was our final night in Kiwi Land, the hosting committee wanted it to end in glamour and they succeeded in their mission. An early evening started with a VIP pick up at the hotel. Vintage deluxe cars were awaiting the group to take everyone to a unique sunset cocktail in nature surroundings before proceeding to the private house of a local painter. The whole evening was brilliantly coordinated by the Queenstown office of The Orange Group (

We concluded our visit of Queenstown with a gondola to the Skyline Complex ( for some thrilling downhill luge tracks.

Skyline queensland


Finally, we took another helicopter flight to the awesome Cecil Peak Ledge to enjoy some of the best views over Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu, and the remarkable Mount Cook for a farewell glass of champagne in style!
We then flew to the airport for a (very, very) long journey back to Europe.

Cecil Peak Cecil Peak


Since starting in the MICE business I can assure you that this is one of the best programs I have experienced: all parties (partners and suppliers alike) involved in the organization managed to surprise us day by day, step by step, introducing us to all the possibilities Auckland and Queenstown have offer, spoiled us and took us on an overwhelming gastronomic tour. What a wonderful New Zealand experience!

The new “Kiwi Ambassadors” are, besides myself and the coordinator, Christophe Verstraete (euromic), Annemieke De Rooy (Mind & Motion), Rik Gerits (BTS Travel Services), Georges & Caroline Rivel (HRG Belgium), Christophe Van Campenhout (Act-Wise) and Dominique Plaissetty (Agence Alter Ego, Paris).

Thank you, Christophe. Thank you, Anna. Thank you, Kylie & Louise.
And thank you, new found friends of the industry!



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