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The world is awash with money – and false hope.

Aaron Carson June 2010

The Rugby World Cup is coming. Will NZ business drop the ball?

I’ll admit it. I don’t like rugby. There – I said it. It’s nothing personal, I just don’t. I love that others can enjoy it and I’m so very happy for them that there’s so much of it about in this country. It’s just that I don’t care. It’s from this somewhat neutral position then as a citizen but not a rugby fanatic that I feel well placed to ask the question – what’s it all about?

Like a rugby tsunami rolling towards us, the World Cup is coming and with it will arrive somewhere in the region of 85,000 visitors, not to mention the millions of viewers watching TV coverage around the world. An economic impact report tells us that the additional direct spend during the tournament will be approximately $500 million throughout NZ, with an estimated $267 million of that going to Auckland as the hub of the tournament.

As an opportunity for New Zealand it’s being pitched as bigger than Ben Hur. But what does it really mean for the broad spectrum of New Zealand business? What does it mean for you and your customers? What’s the message for those that aren’t in the entertainment or tourism industries? How should people look at this - a pause for benchmarking perhaps? Or, is the reality, in fact, that there’s nothing to learn and not much that’s directly beneficial to those outside of the sport, tourism and hospitality industries?

On a mission to answer these burning questions, I spoke to a few geezers who should know. Kind enough to share their thoughts were Kevin Bowler of Tourism NZ, Phil O’Reilly of Business New Zealand, Leon Grice of the NZ 2011 Office and Michael Barnett from Auckland Chamber Of Commerce.

If we were to tickle the nub of the issue it’s surely this. What’s the real opportunity for NZ business? “The fact is,” Kevin Bowler says, “There is obviously a direct benefit to accommodation, beverage, food, travel and tourism businesses but it will not directly affect a lot of NZ business.” Phil O’Reilly agrees, “There will be very few people indeed who will be coming here primarily to do business. They will be coming mainly to watch rugby, drink beer and have a good time. However, in other countries like Japan, rugby is an elitist sport, a corporate sport. So the people who turn up will be more than the average tourist – they will be business people, and people of some worth. That is a huge opportunity for New Zealand. What these visitors see is adventure and possibility. New Zealand is incorrupt; and it’s the second easiest place to do business in the world according to the World Bank – that is massively, massively important. It’s an opportunity for us to shake a hand, hand over a business card and make a friend. And New Zealanders do that better than anyone else in the world. We’re the best at that. Nobody does that better than us”

Michael Barnet says the best advice he can give is to stay in touch with what is happening. “Keep in touch with business opportunities (including RWC 2011 related tenders). Check out That will link businesses to the Business Opportunities programme which includes access to tender opportunities, regular updates, business opportunities workshops and all the information needed to leverage the tournament.”

Leon Grice also had some advice. “Join the Business Club. Join it straight away. If you’re part of that and you’re offering up hosting opportunities, it’ll give you a qualified name. The Business Club is a Rugby World Cup dating agency, essentially. The people coming to New Zealand are all high net worth individuals and they’re all looking for the great kiwi experience. We’ll be asking them online what their age is, where they’re from, what their interests are, what they like to do on their time off, and - most importantly - what team they’re supporting. That data will tell us where they’ll be going. So for the Italians in our database we’ll know that they’ll be going to Nelson to watch Italy play the United States and we’ll know that there’s ten of them, for example, in the seafood industry. From that we can make sure that the people in Nelson, particularly the seafood industry, know that they’re coming so they can take them out and catch a snapper, go and have a tour on one of the factory boats, go and have a game of golf, and enjoy some of the best on offer in Nelson. Perhaps they can go to the game together. And if they can have two or more interactions with these guys then they can start to build some relationships and even turn it into a deal. From a business perspective, 2011 is going to be the first year since 2007 where it’s going to be okay to party. 2010 is about getting your cashflow back; in 2011 it will be okay to celebrate. You’re feeling okay, your customers are feeling okay, and it’s okay to invite your customers to a wine festival or to buy tickets to go with them to a rugby match.”

This is all very well but what about New Zealand businesses not involved in export – what can they do?

Kevin Bowler: “There will be more activity in the provinces as more games are played in secondary centres. The event will be the ‘best of New Zealand’ on display and you will need to think about selling ‘authentic’ New Zealand experiences, ways to add value as a business and ways in which you can leverage the buzz in the country. What will your channel to the visitors be? Ultimately though, the thing to remember is that no one is going to do it for you.”

Leon Grice: “You don’t need to be an export business to make the most of these global connections. Global connections can pay off – and who knows, you might not be in exporting now, but in five years’ time if you’ve built those relationships you might be. If you look at wine growers I believe they’re a model for operation. It doesn’t matter if you’re small or big or exporter or non-exporter, it’s actually an industry you can belong to and get benefit from because it’s the NZ life story, [and] being a premium story, it elevates all the boats in that industry. So while they’ll compete in the international marketplace they also have an interest in not cutting each others’ throats and not rocking the boat, and so they’re not undermining the quality of the premium wine industry back home. They’re very practised at working together. The Rugby World Cup will be an expo of the whole country. Even for smaller businesses – Bluff oysters will be put aside and put in growing cages and for the first time in New Zealand’s history, the only place you will be able to eat a Bluff oyster is in Bluff. It’s the same thing for the Wild Food festival - there’s usually only one Wild Food festival a year but they’re talking about having a Whitebait-focused Wild food festival on the West Coast. Now the West Coast doesn’t host any teams, it doesn’t have any games, but by putting on that festival and celebrating Whitebait they’re going to get Kiwis coming and they’re going to get overseas people coming, so people will go to Christchurch and the West Coast before going to the their game in Queenstown. So from a business perspective, getting involved in that is huge.”

Michael Barnett: “While much of the revenue will be generated through visitor facing businesses in sectors such as hospitality, accommodation and transport, the opportunities are much wider than that. All of the businesses in those sectors will need increased supplies of food and services so there are opportunities all along the supply chain for a wide range of businesses. Add to that a multitude of events around the tournament - Fan Zones, festival events, business events etc. All of these events will need technical equipment, fencing, staging, seating - hundreds of different goods and services.

OK, so what is New Zealand going to learn from this and how will we quantify the benefit we’ve got out of it?

Kevin Bowler: “Businesses need to have a digital social strategy around getting the visitors they interact with back after the World Cup. That’s very important.”

Phil O’Reilly: “The opportunity post-event is to figure out whether or not we are world-class. We need to ask ourselves if we are because we will have a huge bunch of people coming through who haven’t been here before. They’ll be staying at hotels and eating at restaurants and it’s a good opportunity to listen hard to them and benchmark ourselves. I think for domestic businesses it will be key to take note of what the World Cup teaches us about an outsider’s view of New Zealand, and what that means for your business. Even if we monitor outside coverage of the Rugby World Cup, there’ll be an opportunity to learn about what outsiders think of us, because they’ll be here for a relatively long period of time and we’re on show. Again, there’s an opportunity for us...just look at what impact this had on Australia after the Olympics, and the World Cup. Businesses need to measure themselves, examine themselves in terms of thinking about what it means to be a business in New Zealand.”

Leon Gryce: “If you look at the Sydney Olympics and you look at the return on investment, you wouldn’t have done it. But what did it do? It transformed Sydney from being one of the better cities in the world into one of the few great cities in the world - in the perceptions of the world. If you look at the ROI for the Sydney Olympics, it’s qualitative. It’s that Sydney, without question, is now one of the great cities of the world. Its sophistication, its infrastructure, its performance, its culture, the people are friendly, they have a great lifestyle - all these things are cemented in London, in the U.S..”

What are the risks in not quite hitting the mark?

Phil O’Reilly: “Here’s a good example. Will our stadiums be empty if the All Blacks get knocked out in the quarter final? I hope not, I really hope not. I was in Australia for the last Rugby World Cup and it was a really inspirational time to be in Australia, because even in the games where you had two nobody teams playing against each other, there was such incredible crowd support. People were going mad for players from a country they’d never heard of - they had placards, support groups, face paint –and the games were incredibly successful. We need to do that in New Zealand. If the All Blacks win, and we’re happy because the All Blacks won, that tells us a very different thing to whether we’re happy because we ran a successful tournament because everyone had a good time here. Those are two very different thoughts. We need to unbundle those thoughts as a country, just as the Australians did, to say whether or not we did a good job in hosting the world and in showing New Zealand to the world. Not just showing the clean and green either, but showing what New Zealand really is – buildings and people and technology. When we show the complexity of what we have to offer, that’s the big opportunity – it’s not a 30 second TV ad.”

Leon Gryce: “I think the regions themselves are getting really well prepared. It’s now time to recruit people into those programmes and start the movement. The programmes are there and they’re ready to go, our programmes, our Business Club, are there to support the regions. We’re ready for the volume problem. Our systems have been created for the volume problem. It’s right now. We’re ready to recruit. I think the difference is the quality of what we give them. There’s 85,000+ people who are coming, they’re high net worth individuals, they’re business leaders and opinion leaders in their markets. It’s how we focus this and not only get them to say “Gee, those Kiwis did well”, but really show them that New Zealand is a great place to do business, a great place to live, a great place to visit - in a really co-ordinated way. In the same way that Sydney went from being one of the good cities in the world to being one of the great ones, it’s how we present ourselves as a sophisticated, creative, innovative nation.”

So, are you ready? Here are five key points you need to be thinking about in order to maximise the opportunities and prevent your business from dropping the ball.

1. Do you know what your business really stands for and are you truly delivering it? 2. Do you really know your audience and competitors and what differentiates you? 3. Are the channels you use the right ones and if so, are they fully optimised? 4. Do you have a strategy specifically for this opportunity? 5. How will you measure your investment and learn from the experience after the event? If you need assistance with any of the above, we can help. Call us now


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