People of the Festival - Click Suite
Every single year, the team at Visa Wellington On a Plate is able to pull together New Zealand’s largest culinary festival, thanks to some key relationships - people behind the scenes - that contribute to the overall Festival experience.
But “key relationships” is too sterile a way to describe who these people are, what they do, and just how important they are to making Visa Wellington On a Plate happen every year.
You may have never given a second thought to who ensures you can filter what events, cocktails or Dine dishes you wish to try on our website at a moment’s notice? Or who connects Wellington hospitality with the capital’s producers and suppliers? Or who helps us get the word out about ALL those burgers around the Wellington Region for Burger Wellington?
These aren’t just “key relationships” - they’re “people of the festival”, and they deserve a shoutout for the role they play in bringing the Festival together.
This week, we chat to the Click Suite team, who are tasked with the very big job of putting together a fresh Visa Wellington On a Plate website every single year, so you can check out every single event, dish, burger and cocktail, filter which ones you want to find, as well as creating the geotagged maps so you can see what Visa Welly On a Plate options are nearest to you. As the kid on a famous Kiwi ad says, “She’s a pretty big job”. And that’s why we want to give thanks for the Click Suite team!
Who are you and what are your roles at Click Suite?
Emily: I’m a co-founder at Click Suite. We’re a passionate team when it comes to making digital media - and when it comes to food. So, the Visa WOAP website is like a dream combo. I’m the one pushing our sponsorship - and the UX (user experience) side of things, but I can’t do website testing before lunch - impossible!
Meike: I’m looking after design, user experience and how the website looks and works across mobiles, etc. I’ve got a keen eye on how dishes are presented too - we eat with our eyes after all.
Chris: I look after the development. I make sure the site responds well when we have so many people on it at once. We have live analytics on a big screen in the studio, so we watch what's popular and how people move from desktop to mobile over the course of the day - fun!
Cristina: I run the team, who’s doing what and where our priorities are. The Festival is an ever-changing event - each year there are new requirements and things to change, and my job is to make sure we’re ready for all the key dates and that we deliver the best results (and that we have made our own lists of course!).
Rex: I’m supporting everyone and doing background testing - I’ve been taking the testing of wishlists very seriously and now have a lot to get through in October!
In what ways does Click Suite support Visa Wellington On a Plate, and why do you think our partnership is a good fit?
Emily: We run the website - which is a mission! Every year we try and bring in some new features and many micro-improvements to make the user experience as good as it can be. But there's a lot to do - so we have to prioritise. We’re big Visa WOAP fans so we always have the user perspective. If you have an idea for an improvement or new feature - email me I’d love to hear it, truly.
Chris: This year we’ve added maps - that's been a major for me, personally, and now it means you can browse by what’s around the corner. I was surprised by how much there was around where I live!
Cristina: From the moment that we learn about the new season dates, we honestly live and breathe the Festival until it’s all over. We talk about it every day and then we’re looking at what's on next year’s list for improvements - it's pretty full on, but we love it.
Why do you think Visa Wellington On a Plate is positive for the Wellington Region and its hospo industry?
Emily: We’re big fans of the Wellington hospo sector - our Visa WOAP At Yours site was built in lockdown to support this sector and it saw 400 hospo businesses get trading again in Level 3, helping thousands of Wellingtonians to find delicious takeout food. That kind of support for the sector wouldn't be possible without Visa WOAP having been established.
Chris: We really noticed during that time, those maps got people exploring what’s near them and we’ve been amazed at how many people have been using the wishlists this year - it's very rewarding to see functionality like that being used!
Rex: There’s such a buzz in town when the Festival is on; it seems like such a lift, normally in winter, but this year in spring.
What do you, personally, like most about Visa Wellington On a Plate? Do you have any particular cool food memories or experiences from the festival you'd like to share?
Cristina: Discovering places that I hadn’t thought about going before. One memory that really stayed with me is when we went to The Roxy as a team, a couple of years ago, and watched the Elvis movie, King Creole, while being served delicious treats throughout the movie - gumbo, cocktails, and who could forget Elvis’s fried peanut butter and banana sandwich - no wonder he was addicted!
Meike: The unusual food experiences have stayed with me. Last year our team outing was to Hillside Kitchen and they had an interactive event - Bandersnack - we all got given different things and it was super fun trying to figure out the flavours and what was causing us to get different dishes. It was so good I’m going back this year!
Emily: Yes! Trying and discovering new ingredients and places, Last year we went to an event at Highwater - I can still remember a slice of canelé (from Grace Patisserie- another Festival discovery) with goat's cheese and persimmon paste. Absolutely incredible, clever, and all new to me. Happy sigh.
Rex: It's great that it's only a month - you’ve got to seize the day and get out there and experience it. No regrets.
Are you planning on taking part in Visa Wellington On a Plate? If so, what are you looking forward to most?
Emily: Is Wellington windy? Are you kidding? Of course! I think one of the least appreciated aspects of Visa WOAP are the set course Dine menus - you get a set number of courses for wicked prices! My first one is booked on October 1 - at the Boulcott Street Bistro. Crayfish anyone?
Cristina: I'm amazed about how many people still think it's just about burgers. The events and Dine Wellington options are incredible. And you can filter for kid-friendly events - though I’m actually looking for excuses to go out without the kids!
Rex: And the blast back to the late 80s [event] - I’m looking forward to reliving all our old Wellington favourites from back in the day. We’ve got a big noisy group together for that one.
Is Click Suite planning a team outing for Visa Wellington On a Plate, and if so, what do you guys have your eye on?
Emily: Our team outings are all about the burgers this year, but deciding is a mission. We still have five sub-lists we need to merge into one - drooling already!
Rex: Love the burgers.
Chris: Yes, those burgers… We have a team planning session which results in a voting list on our whiteboard, which then undergoes team scrutiny. We’re super serious about these choices and you can only eat so many burgers, so you have to advocate for your favourites!
Meike: And still save some for the weekends with friends!
Cristina: I’m just looking forward to some longer lunches and fun together with the team in the spring sun.
Meike: Yeah, it’s a highlight of our year.