February 2022 marks a watershed moment for Australia — finally
lifting nearly two years of hard border restrictions starting 21
February to fully-vaccinated international travellers, and Western
Australia joining on 3 March to welcome triple-vaccinated foreigners.
But perhaps the loudest cheer comes from the business events
industry, the first to be shut down following the first National Cabinet
meeting in March 2020 when the pandemic unravelled.
At the recently wrapped inaugural Get Local expo from 15-16 February —
Australia's first in-person international business event exhibition in
two years — the resounding consensus was that people are ready, willing
and able to get back together for face-to-face events.
while leisure travel may pick up speed faster than business events,
Gareth Martin, CEO of Business Events Perth expects the latter "won’t be
far behind," pointing to the 51 confirmed business events booked for
2022 through 2027, and a further 64 bids submitted pending destination
"Business Events Perth has supported 353 local business events across the State over the last two years, so you can be sure that the event experience on offer in Western Australia remains second to none," adds Martin.
This determination to get the industry's wheels moving again is also
showing clearly ahead of the upcoming Asia Pacific Incentives and
Meetings Event (AIME) from 21-23 March. Nearly all of Australia’s
Convention Bureaux will be participating, with organisers already
anticipating a spike in attendance when the event opens at the Melbourne
Convention & Exhibition Centre (MCEC).
stalwart and MCEC Chief Executive, Peter King isn't surprised, noting
that news of border opening will effect a "feeling of growing optimism
amongst event organisers, venues, suppliers and employees — a confidence
[that] is essential to securing the future of our industry, and
something we should all feel at this point".
According to Robin Mack, Executive General Manager, Commercial &
Business Events Australia (BEA), this "confidence" King speaks of is
already apparent in results from the Business Events Consumer Demand
Project – BEA's international research done in October 2021.
Majority of decision makers across both the association and incentive
sector are indicating "that the number of events held post pandemic
will be the same or greater, and the available budget will increase",
with Mack adding that it also helps that Australia continues to have a
"competitive edge" as a top business events destination.
Some winning factors include safety, clean cities and good
infrastructure, a range of quality accommodation, direct flight access,
high quality business event facilities that offer good value for money,
and friendly and passionate event staff.
To encourage business events further, BEA offers a
range of resources for planners. On the domestic front, the Event Here This Year campaign offers a toolkit for use in a business' own marketing strategy, while international markets can tap on a range of resources including BEA's Business Events Bid Fund
Program which provides funding for event costs in Australia.
a macro perspective, Tourism Australia will continue investing in
research to support the business events industry's recovery, and
"rebuild demand from the international markets offering the best
potential return on investment", which Mack has identified as the USA
and United Kingdom/Europe for both the incentive and association
sectors, and China, New Zealand and South and South East Asia for the
Continuing from an earlier chat with M&C Asia before news of
border reopening, Mack confirms Australia will continue to prioritise
South and South East Asia. Groups have confirmed bookings to Sydney in
2023 and beyond, with interest also coming from Japan and South Korea
planners for destinations such as Cairns, Gold Coast, Sydney, and
Melbourne, to build incentive programmes that include a one day or
half-day conference, said Mack.
adds that enquiries are coming in too from China, Taiwan, Singapore,
India and Malaysia to the Business Events Perth team.
Amid the hype of reopening and reconnecting, both Mack and King are
nonetheless cognisant that "things aren’t going to be the same".
"Customer needs and expectations post-Covid have changed, and our
operating environment is more complex. For many businesses in the
industry, some of them family run, it will be a difficult return to
normality," said King, who added that public-private partnerships will
be key to overcome new challenges.
There's also another post-Covid change to cater to: people’s outlook on life.
"Our Business Events Consumer Demand Project research suggests that
once travel is unrestricted, organisations are ready to do something
significant to acknowledge all that’s happened, and will have the funds
to do so from not running face-to-face events for some time. There is a
real opportunity for Australia to benefit from this sentiment,
especially amongst those who see Australia as a bucket list
destination," said Mack.
Plans are already in place to tap on this specific segment: from
familiarisation programmes and a brand new incentive inspiration
magazine called Australia Next, to the hybrid Business Events Australia Asia Showcase 2022 connecting local sellers to international planners.
"Now that borders are open, we are on the cusp of launching some global initiatives that will tell the world that we’re open for business and work to position Australia for long term growth, so stay tuned," Mack concludes.