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ES. Could you provide the readers about your early life and career?
Prue Daly. I’ve been working in the hospitality and events industry for over 20 years now and started my career with a coveted training placement with leading hotel group Accor. This placement led to a career with Accor where I worked for several years in various business development and sales management roles. Over the next decade, I broadened my experience with other leading companies in the events and hotel industry including the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) which I joined in 2009, holding the positions of Assistant Director of Sales and Senior Manager Customer Experience. During my 7 years at MCEC I was awarded a number of industry accolades, including Meetings and Events Australia’s National Business Development Person of the Year.
In October 2016, I made the move “across the ditch” to join the New Zealand International Convention Centre (NZICC) team as Director of Sales & Marketing where my key responsibilities included the development and implementation of sales, business development and marketing activities and programmes; recruiting a new team of professionals; maintaining strong relationships with association, government and corporate clients; and strengthening the strategic partnerships with Auckland Convention Bureau and Tourism New Zealand to ensure the success of large-scale international bidding and the growth of the business events sector for New Zealand. Unfortunately, a fire on the construction site of NZICC in 2019 caused the building opening to be delayed and required me to lead the NZICC team and our clients through a very challenging period while still ensuring NZICC was being considered for future business opportunities.
ES. What are your plans for NZICC after assuming the charge as GM?
Prue Daly. In April 2023, I was promoted to General Manager of the NZICC in preparation for opening in 2025. As General Manager, I’m responsible for ensuring NZICC offers a world class delivery experience for our clients and guests and driving international bidding which will contribute $90 million in economic impact. I’m also responsible for building a NZICC team that is focused on excellence but is also thoughtful in how we embrace and deliver our sustainability goals, community impact to Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland and creating authentic New Zealand experiences so our clients and guest leave with a deep appreciation for our unique New Zealand culture.
ES. Located in the heart of Auckland City, what makes it one of the best exhibition centers in the world. Please share with us its key features.
Prue Daly. I think what makes NZICC special is that it was designed by world-class architects alongside event industry experts and our future clients. This collaborative process saw us run extensive experience design workshops with over 70 people who will be our end users including delegates, PCO’s and event bookers and industry service suppliers. These experience design journeys created a building design that is versatile, flexible and adaptable.
The NZICC is dedicated to creating an unforgettable experience, and this starts with a centre that is memorable, provides a place to welcome visitors and show our true culture of innovation, maanakitanga, and uniqueness. We worked with local artists Peata Larkin and Sara Hughes to capture New Zealand’s values and strengths of doing things a little differently, our incredible natural landscape and unique light, our brand values around personality and transparency, and channelled this into a defining experience of New Zealand through art integrated in to the building.
ES. Auckland is undergoing an unprecedented transformation, while Domestic markets are often limited in size, which can restrict a company’s growth potential, in what way the domestic market opportunities means to NZICC in generating a large proportion of repeat business?
Prue Daly. The local New Zealand market is incredibly important to NZICC and we know they are eagerly waiting for a venue of scale in Auckland. A lot of our clients see NIZCC as an opportunity to grow their events to scale they haven’t been able to do so in New Zealand previously and we are excited to be able to support this.
We also work with our local association, academic and corporate clients on how we can support their growth by partnering together on international bidding opportunities. We strive to be a true partner with our clients and their events and believe it is through this mindset that we will become their venue of choice in New Zealand.
ES. Appropriate strategy and planning are essential for growing the business events and drawing more shows from around the world. How has your team contributed to achieving this objective?
Prue Daly. We have very strong partnerships with Tataki Auckland Unlimited who manages the Auckland Convention Bureau and our national tourism body Tourism New Zealand. We collaborate and work together to be strategic in our approach on the conferences and events we want to attract to NZICC, Tamaki Makaurau Auckland and New Zealand. When we are travelling globally to attend events such as IMEX, we know that as ‘Team New Zealand’ we are stronger than each of the individual destinations and venues.
We are fortunate to have a strong and collaborative business events community in New Zealand, where each destination and venue come together to make sure New Zealand is represented first and foremost.
ES. Are there any upcoming projects that you are working on that you can disclose at this very moment? What major events are in the pipeline?
Prue Daly. We recently announced that NZICC will be the host venue for WIPCE 2025 – the World Indigenous Peoples’ Conference on Education in November 2025. WIPCE is the largest, most diverse Indigenous education forum in the world, and is expected to attract some 3,000 representatives from around the world to New Zealand to share strategies for culturally grounded education.
Indigenous Maori culture is so important New Zealand so it is such a privilege to be part of an event that can celebrate this and highlight the important work being done in our education sector on a world stage. Without NZICC, this event wouldn’t have been able to come to New Zealand.
ES. What according to you will be the role of venues and the preparations they will need to thrive in the new normal?
Prue Daly. I believe that venues need to step out of the supplier role and become a true partner with their clients and industry for the success of everyone. For example, in New Zealand, NZICC presents a real step change for our local business events industry, and we feel a responsibility to make sure our clients and local business events community are on the journey to creating world class experiences alongside us.
ES. Can you highlight some tourists attractions in Auckland?
Prue Daly. Within walking distance to NZICC we have the iconic Sky Tower – which no visitor to Auckland should miss, whether it’s visiting the observation deck for a 360 degree view of Tamaki Makaurau Auckland, or enjoying a drink or a meal with the same spectacular view. We also have Weta Workshop Unleashed and the All Blacks Experience close by.
These are two relatively new, uniquely New Zealand experiences. Weta Workshop is world famous for working on Lord of the Rings amongst many other movies and their experience lets you understand the magic of movie making in a hands-on way. The All Blacks Experience shares the story of New Zealand culture through Rugby and offers a spine tingling opportunity to face a haka from The All Blacks.
But if stunning scenery and food and wine are your thing – then a 40 minute ferry ride to beautiful Waiheke Island is a must. Here you can explore pristine beaches and world class vineyards. It would have to be my favourite place to visit in Tamaki Makaurau.
ES. On a personal note, we are curious to know what keeps you busy when you are away from work? Please tell us about your hobbies and other activities that you would love to do at home.
Prue Daly. I have a wonderful bunch of foodie friends and we are always trying out new restaurants that are opening in TAmaki Makaurau Auckland. I have a never ending list that we are trying to tick off, but never manage to do as we are always adding new ones on.
I also love to travel and while this has been hindered the last few years, during Covid my husband and I managed to visit from the tip of the North Island all the way to the bottom of the South Island – I just loved it. I really got to experience New Zealand’s manaakitanga first hand. But most of all, in my downtime, my favourite thing to do is spend quality time with my family, friends and my Boston Terrier dog Lollie.
ES. What would be your message to the industry?
Prue Daly. A huge Thank You! The journey to NZICC opening has be far from traditional and through this whole process I have felt nothing but embraced by our industry both locally and globally.
During both the fire at NZICC and my recent promotion to General Manager the overwhelming messages of support for myself and the NZICC team has just been incredible and very humbling. I’m not sure there are many industries that are as well connected and supportive globally and I think that’s special. I feel very lucky to work in this industry.