Let’s get this out of the way: Yes, New Zealand is a long way to go for a meeting or incentive. Those 6,500 miles or so from California to Auckland take about 12 hours of flight time, and when you arrive you have a hefty time difference to accommodate. But for me (and, I would hazard a guess, many of your attendees), its remoteness is part of the allure.
And while the trip is a long one, it doesn’t have to be onerous. Air New Zealand, which along with Tourism New Zealand, sponsored the familiarization tour, offers two tiers above regular economy that make it pretty painless. I flew Premium Economy on the way out, and between the extra legroom, footrests, seats that recline, on-demand entertainment, and an excellent introduction to Kiwi food and wines, I was a happy camper. On our return flight, some of us also got to try the airline’s New Premium Economy seats (available on ANZ’s 777-300 flights), which while not as comfy as the lie-flat business class seats, offer even more space and business-class–level privacy than the regular Premium Economy I experienced. I had a New Business Premier seat on the return flight, and, with the full-length bed, full-size pillows, and fluffy duvet, I managed to sleep for the first time ever on an airplane.
A few more notes about flying: ANZ also makes exits and entries between the U.S. and New Zealand comfortable by providing premium check-in services and access to the ANZ lounges for business and premium economy passengers, complete with spacious showers. The airline also offers an international airline concierge that everyone booked on the airline can use. And your attendees will appreciate how easy it is to move around the country. We flew ANZ to Rotorua, Queenstown, and back to Auckland, and security for TSA-weary Americans is refreshingly quick and easy—one of the benefits of being in a country where terrorism is a far-distant concern.