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In June we headed up to Wellington for our Bed & Breakfast Association conference sponsored by Vision Insurance.  What an awesome few days away! So great to be back with like-minded folk from our industry for a couple of days of networking, learning and sharing.

The location was awe inspiring in itself – Copthorne Hotel in Oriental Bay. Have to admit having not spent much time in Wellington we were unaware of exactly where this hotel was. Well, talk about a treat, sitting right on the waterfront with to die for views from our room. Totally lucked in with the weather too – picture perfect every day. Was a lovely way to start each day, waking up to magnificent views of the harbour with mirror like reflections.

Day one was a trade afternoon, an opportunity to meet with invited Inbound Tour Operators and showcase your product. 20 operators set up tables to meet and greet with 14 ITOs. Some of the tables were a sight to behold – we were impressed by the level of creativity and enthusiasm our colleagues put into showcasing their offerings.  It was fantastic to get some one-on-one time with our inbound agents. Many of the attending ITOs we already deal with so it was great to reconnect and catchup.

That evening the networking began with drinks and nibbles in the cocktail lounge before heading into the restaurant for an informal buffet style meal together. There was much hugging, smiles and laughter as we finally got the opportunity to meet face to face with many of our B&B colleagues we had formed online friendships with throughout covid, following them on social media and through zoom meetings and training sessions.

Morning of day one of the official day of the conference and we awaken to yet another picture-perfect morning. Those views really do make a wonderful start to the day – can’t help but have a spring in your step and a smile on your face.

The conference room was a buzz with delegates arriving and getting themselves settled. Donna Brooke, our president, gave the official welcome and then we hit the road running with the amazing line up of guest speakers updating us on the tourism industry developments of the last year both nationally and regionally.  What a coup to have such a strong line up of industry leaders including the Right Honorable Peeni Henare Minister of Tourism; Deputy Mayor of Wellington, Laurie Foon; Rebecca Ingram, the CEO of Tourism Industry Aotearoa; Lucho Arca, Promotions Manager for Te Papa; Sam Allen, Tourism New Zealand Marketing Manager for Business Events and Gina Paladini, Company Director and Marketing Manager for Tomahawk Tourism.

Morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea gave us the chance for more networking with our B&B colleagues but also with our trade partners who made themselves available at this year’s conference. Freeonlinebooking, Guest Traction, Wireless Nation and our gold sponsor of the Association, Vision Insurance, all had trade stands.  This was a fabulous opportunity to meet with a couple of our trade partners who support the Association – David from Vision Insurance in particular whom we’d been dealing with for years but never had the opportunity to meet in person and also Lisa from Freeonline our booking system agent.  It was so great to put faces to names and to get a better understanding of their product offerings. We had the good fortune to sit with Jason from Wireless Nation at lunch and talk about our internet issues and how he thought he could help, together with meeting Craig from Guest Traction who it turns out was a West Coaster originally and had many things to reminisce about with Stephen – small world!

During these breaks we were given the opportunity to put some pressing questions we might have onto post it notes to be put to some of our industry experts that were going to be at conference that afternoon for the panel discussion.  The panel comprised of Rebecca from TIA, Lynda from TECNZ, Donna from the B&B Association and Sam from TNZ. There were some great thought provoking questions from our Association delegates and having the expertise of the panel was invaluable. 

With our minds a buzzing it was soon time to get our glad rags on and be back for the Vision Insurance Business Excellence Awards Dinner. What a fabulous evening – super delicious meal provided by the team in the restaurant of Copthorne Oriental Bay and then onto the awards themselves. Huge congratulations goes out to all the entrants first and foremost, they are all winners in my book. We know first hand the effort that goes into entering so just taking that step is a massive milestone. Then the finalists – wow what a lineup.  Certainly didn’t envy the judges in deciding the finalists and then trying to pick the winner/s. The winners are:

2023 Essence of Bed & Breakfast of the Year was awarded to Tim and Mary Wood of The Olive Rabbit. The Judges said Tim and Mary are exemplary hosts who have created a fabulous experience at The Olive Rabbit Bed and Breakfast. Their genuine passion for providing exceptional hospitality shines through in every aspect of their business.

Highly Commended: Dovecote House - Nathan Lewis & Timothy Swart

2023 Rising Star Bed & Breakfast of the Year was awarded to Esther & Tom Seymour at 415 Marine Parade. The Judges said Tom and Esther at 415 Marine Parade have created an exceptional B&B that exceeds expectations. Their refurbishment of the property is of an excellent standard, reflecting their experience and skill. Their strong systems and professional approach to the B&B experience set them apart as operators in the hospitality industry.

Highly Commended: Pihopa Retreat - Sam & Sarah Mellor

2023 Exceptional Bed & Breakfast of the Year Award was awarded to Peter & Karen West of Waihi Beach Paradise Resort. The Judges said Waihi Beach Paradise Resort stands out with its strong business systems, market understanding,
reinvestment in the business, and dedication to sustainability and carbon-zero efforts. The well-maintained facilities and eco-friendly practices contribute to an exceptional guest experience, making the bed and breakfast a leader in the industry.  Peter and Karen’s vision and continuous improvement deserve praise, as they set a high standard for the hospitality sector.

Highly Commended: Whakaipo Lodge – Garth & Angie London

Vision Insurance Supreme Bed & Breakfast of the Year Award - Waihi Beach Paradise Resort

Onto day 2 of the conference and yet another stunning morning in the capital city.  We could seriously consider living in Wellington, looking out our hotel room windows at those stunning views across the water. Back up to the conference rooms and we’re treated to presentations by a couple of our Association members giving great insight into how they run their respective businesses. To hear the behind the scenes stories and getting some first hand information from two very successful B&B operators was really stimulating.

Then we’re into the Associations AGM spearheaded by our outgoing president, Donna. The AGM finished on a massive high with a very special award presentation – Lifetime Award to Liz Webster from Websters on Wanaka. The Award was in
recognition of the significant contributions Liz has made to the Association. Liz has gone above and beyond in her support of the Association. She has been a member for 11 years, was Regional Convenor of the Wanaka group for approximately 10 years, joined the Board in 2015 and served for six years, two of those as Vice President.  The Association recognised the work she had done with the Wanaka region, the Wanaka Conference and in fact the whole of NZ. In particular, Liz co-ordinated the Kinnect Wanaka project – a project which developed branding concepts and design materials to raise the profile of hosted accommodation in the domestic market; assist advocacy efforts both regionally and nationally; create a brand kit focusing on who they were and what set them apart from the national world of B&B.  Liz will continue to help the Association, staying on as an Assessor, though she and her husband Neil are closing their B&B.  Massive congratulations and huge thanks to Liz for all her enthusiasm and work over the years.

Whew don’t know about you but even writing this I’m buzzing remembering how much we got out of this year’s conference – and I haven’t finished yet.......

After more networking over lunch we’re in the afternoon session with three workshops on offer and time to choose two of them depending which you find most relevant.

Gina from Tomahawk did a workshop on all things ChatGPT. A great opportunity for delegates to come along with their own laptops and see first hand what ChatGPT can do for them in their business. Incidentally NO I did not use it to write this, but is certainly a good option for helping out with blogs, newsletters, social media posts and even the likes of operational manuals. You’ll need to add some tweaks to personalise it but it could be great for getting some ideas.

Lynda from TECNZ explained all about working with the trade. Being trade ready – what is it, working with ITOS (inbound tour operators), how they work for you, their expectations, the benefits, the reach they can get on your behalf, the marketing they do on your behalf. If you’re not already working with trade I’d highly recommend looking into it and am only too happy to have a conversation with you on the merits of it and how to go about it.

Garth a Community Compliance Officer with the IRD also did a workshop. Already being GST registered and having run our business for nearly 19 years this wasn’t a workshop we needed to attend but from feedback from some of our colleagues who did attend, they found it very worthwhile and it was catered to whatever questions those attending put forward.

The conference ended with a famil to Te Papa for a 60 minute guided tour with a Maori guide. Was heartening to see the uptake from our delegates for this famil and it was a great insight into the efforts Te Papa have made with telling the Maori story. 

I can honestly say this was one of the best conferences we’ve attended. It was fabulous to be back amongst our peers of the industry and also such a coup of the Association to have such highly regarded industry guest speakers and for our
workshops. From speaking with some of our colleagues afterwards our minds were all a buzzing – so much valuable insight and information.

Huge thanks to the hard working team of Fiona our Association Secretary and Donna our outgoing president. So much work goes into pulling off the conference and the time and dedication by Fiona is greatly appreciated. Our new board was introduced at the conference and massive welcome to Ann-Marie our new President.

Can’t end this write up without also thanking Eddie Murrow from Waihi Gold Discovery who was the MC throughout the conference and did an outstanding job.  Final thanks to Copthorne Oriental Bay Wellington – fabulous location, friendly staff and great food, they fed us well throughout the conference with the delicious morning and afternoon teas and lunches and helped keep the energy levels up so we could absorb all the fabulous information from our speakers.

If you’d like any of the notes or presentations from the conference head to the Bed & Breakfast Association’s website. You’ll need your login details (yes, you’ll need to be a member so what better reason to sign up!) and then click on conference and it is all there for you.


Copthorne Hotel


blog catchup


travel trade tables


Peeni Henare


2023 conference speakers




Panel discussion


Award winners


exhibit stands


Liz webster





Jan Roberts

Breakers Boutique Accommodation

October 2023



2023 Vision Insurance Bed and Breakfast Association Conference

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