After reopening to the world in February, Robin Mack, executive general manager of commercial and business events with Tourism Australia, reported in an interview at IMEX that groups are coming back to the country with postponed and new events both for the coming months and out to 2027.
The destination is encouraging future planning with a new campaign called “There’s Nothing Like Australia for Business Events” by inviting the world to experience the impact that Australia can have on thinking as a home to friendly people with fresh perspectives, coupled with a diverse and iconic landscape and world-class venues.
Appreciation of the Value of F2F
“Association conferences are back,” Mack said. Domestic activity sustained the industry over the last two years with help from an “Event Here” campaign that energized local groups around the power of meeting face-to-face, but now Asian groups are coming back as well—many with very short lead times. World Indigenous People Conference on Education was in Adelaide in September with 2,300 attendees.
International Conference on Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering opened in Sydney in October with 867 delegates, hitting its attendee target. The Asia Pacific Incentives and Meetings Event (AIME) is coming to Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre in February of 2023 for its 30th anniversary with 3,000 meetings industry attendees, reported Silke Calder, AIME event director. The gathering is an annual celebration of the events industry and a resource for Asia Pacific destinations and venues to tell their story to meeting professionals.
Unprecedented Infrastructure Investment
Catching up with what is new will be even more important after most international visitors were essentially locked out for the last two years during what Mack calls “a time of unprecedented infrastructure investment.” More than 100 new or renovated properties are now spread across the Australian map. An additional 12,000 beds, including Crown Sydney (349 guest rooms and 7,858 sq. ft. of meeting space) in Barangaroo.
New experiences include Reef Magic pontoons in Queensland that have been popular with incentive groups. Burrawa Indigenous Bridgeclimb Sydney tells the story of the oldest living culture, dating back 60,000 years. Another elevated experience by Melbourne SkyFarm features a 2,000-square-meter rooftop event space and education center. Australian Open dates back to 1905 in Melbourne; Australian Grand Prix Formula 1 has been in the country since 1928 and South by Southwest (SXSW) Sydney will debut in October of 2023.
Resiliency is one of Australia’s specialties,” said Calder. “The country has been delivering Covid-safe events at scale for more than a year.”
A Sustainable Focus
Australia has positioned itself as a partner for meeting professionals looking to produce sustainable meetings. International Convention Centre Sydney’s Legacy Program is designed to reduce the environmental footprint of events and deliver positive social impacts. From energy to water and waste programs, reducing ecological impact is already in place. An Exhibition & Events Association of Australasia (EEAA) carbon calculator is available to members who sign the EEAA Sustainable Events 2030 Pledge, as Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, ICC Sydney and Grand Stand Events have done. The program outlines a range of actions and targets across 7 key impact areas, for 2023 (interim target) and the end of 2025 and 2030.
Waste management experts, BinTracker, help decrease contamination rates to help meet landfill diversion targets. A First Nations digital storytelling enterprise helps connect attendees with the aboriginal history of the destination. And a new partnership with leading not-for-profit conservation organization Science for Wildlife helps protect endangered koalas. Finally, Connect Hub, a permanent media studio for broadcast events, leverages a $1.53 million investment in audio-visual equipment to make hybrid meetings easier.