Associate Professor Alan Ovens is the Discipline Leader of Sport, Health and Physical Education in the Faculty of Education at the University of Auckland. Here, he shares his experience of bidding to bring an international conference to Auckland – and how he succeeded.  

Bringing the world to Aotearoa

Associate Professor Alan Ovens is bringing the 8th International Teaching Games for Understanding (TgfU) Conference to Auckland in January 2025, which is expected to attract some 300 delegates.

The conference is the world’s most important event for advancing the use of physical education and games to improve young people’s social and decision-making skills.

This is the third conference Associate Professor Ovens has won for Auckland, working in partnership with Auckland Convention Bureau to successfully bid for the event. “This is an opportunity for our teachers, coaches, researchers and institutions to collaborate and gain a better understanding of international best practice with our counterparts overseas,” says Associate Professor Ovens.

“For me, a conference is a mana-enhancing experience. You’re seen by your professional community, your department or university, and by a broader academic community.”   

A meeting of the minds

“I think conferences are wonderful for being able to put a stake in the ground – it’s our pouwhenua –  and, by bringing people to New Zealand, they get to see us and what we do.”

Auckland Convention Bureau (ACB) helps leading thinkers to bid for, win, and host world-class conferences. Hosting a conference in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland brings benefits for your own profile and career, as well as your organisation, sector, city, and country. 

Securing the TgfU Conference promotes the University of Auckland as a world-class institution, and the opportunity to meet and to share ideas and research with international experts is a win for everyone.

The bidding process

For those who’ve never considered bidding to bring an international conference to Auckland, it may seem a daunting task. That’s why Auckland Convention Bureau helps every step of the way, from developing an initial strategy through to implementing a winning bid, and beyond. 

Associate Professor Ovens says, from his experience, the process breaks down into four parts: scoping, building the proposal, pitching, and post-bidding.  

Scoping starts when the possibility of hosting a conference is first on the horizon. ACB helps with free (and obligation-free) financial feasibility studies, assistance in applying for bid funding, and advice and quotes from venues, activities, and accommodation and service providers.

Next, ACB works with you to build the formal proposal and help create professional bid documents and presentations that impress when it comes time for pitching.

With a robust, and inspiring proposal to put forward, the pitching process becomes much easier. It’s all about showing the decision-makers why Auckland is the ideal host city for their next conference, with your organisation at the helm. 

After a successful bid, it’s time to work out what the conference is going to look like. ACB provides post-bidding promotional resources to boost delegate numbers, including images, guides and videos. As well as the opportunity to meet with industry peers, the unique experiences delegates can enjoy in Tāmaki Makaurau often prove a powerful incentive. 

“My favourite part of the bid process is the pitch,” says Associate Professor Ovens. “It’s that moment when you’re in front of the organisation and you can see in their eyes the quality of what you’ve just put in front of them. I have had the experience where at the end of the pitch they say: ‘Would you mind if we just look at that video again?’.”

Collaboration for the win

Conferences are all about collaboration – and so is working with ACB’s international bidding team. They work closely with bidders throughout the entire process, offering a wealth of knowledge, experience and connections to tap into. 

“The quality of what ACB does is just amazing. They provided us with great support and guidance to bid, win and host a successful conference in Tāmaki Makaurau. We did it, you can too,” says Associate Professor Ovens.

If you’d like to find out more about bidding to host an international conference, get in touch with Gemma Wood at [email protected] or contact us here.

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