All the action from a record-breaking AHICE Aotearoa

by Ruth Hogan

Over 550 hotel industry professionals descended on Wellington’s new Takina Convention and Exhibition Centre for the second Aotearoa Hotel Industry Conference and Exhibition, marking a new attendance record for the event.

On Tuesday October 10, delegates had the opportunity to explore new and upgraded hotels in Wellington including Tryp by Wyndham Tory Street Wellington, Naumi Wellington, Movenpick Wellington and Oaks Wellington.

The conference kicked off that afternoon with a powerful Maori welcome from Peter Jackson, who had the New Zealanders on their feet to sing a traditional Maori song.

Hotel Council Aotearoa (HA) Chair Lani Hagaman had a powerful message about the importance of investing in New Zealand hotel industry to raise the standard of hotels and ultimately drive better results.

STR’s Matthew Burke opened the conference sessions with an insightful presentation outlining the state of play in the New Zealand hotel market. Burke had plenty of positive news to share with occupancy trending back to 2019 levels, while rates are up 25%. He revealed that ADR more than occupancy separates the major markets; and luxury still leads in total growth, although midscale is making major strides.


EVT’s Director of Hotels and Resorts Norman Arundel discussed the introduction of budget hospitality brand Lylo and the evolution of Rydges following the opening of a Melbourne flagship.

QT Wellington General Manager Jodi Brown moderated a panel of young leaders from who were passionate about encouraging the industry to embrace change and value diversity.

The two-day conference saw CEOs from a number of major operators from Choice, Langham, Minor Hotels and more take to the stage to share their outlook for the industry in New Zealand for the year ahead.

Leaders from New Zealand-based Hind Management, NZ Hotel Holdings and Stonewood Group were among the many panellists to discuss the importance of promoting New Zealand as a tourist destination globally with many calling for better government support for the industry.


Safari Group’s Rob Neil called for changes to restrictions around investment to get more money back in the country.

The operators also discussed the value of smaller city locations like Wellington, particularly with investment in large events, conferences and events.

The inaugural Aotearoa Hotel Industry Leadership took place at Te Papa Tongarewa on Tuesday evening at a gala networking reception presented by IHG Hotels and Resorts.

See all the winners here.

Day 2 kicked off with a technology masterclass over breakfast, where leading suppliers discussed key trends and innovations in the hotel sector.

Development experts from leading operators including Accor, Marriott and IHG to name a few, discussed development activity in the market, key signings and their plans for expansion in New Zealand.

Major global hotel leaders had their say at AHICE Aotearoa with powerful one-on-one interviews including Marriott International Chair David S Marriott, Wyndham Hotel Group CEO, Geoff Ballotti, Swiss-Belhotel Hotels and Resorts International Chairman, Gavin Faull, and United Airlines Managing Director of Global Sales Marcel Fuchs.

In the leadership sessions, Accor Pacific CEO Sarah Derry sat down with Hospitality New Zealand General Manager – Accommodation, Sally Attfield to discuss the impact of the FIFA Women’s World Cup on the New Zealand market, while IHG Hotels and Resorts SVP Managing Director Leanne Harwood’s conversation with KiwiHarvest Founder Deborah Manning revealed the threat of food insecurity and food waste.

Minor Hotels Chief Operating Officer Craig Hooley and Minor Hotels’ Area Manager New Zealand Jamie O’Donnell presented both a local and global view of their business and discussed the opportunities for NH Hotels and other brands in the New Zealand market.

People, culture, technology and sustainability were among the top talking points over the two days with leaders tackling the challenges and opportunities in each area.

Delegates also had the opportunity to connect with industry colleagues at networking events at QT Wellington’s Hot Sauce venue on both evenings.