After cancelling last year due to the pandemic, the Australian Tourism Exchange 2021 (ATE 21) returned this year as a hybrid two-part event: 'ATE Live' from 6-9 June, followed by 'ATE Online' from 10-17 June.
The 41st edition of ATE opened at the International Convention Centre Sydney (ICC Sydney) for in-person delegates based in Australia or located in countries permitted to travel to Australia, domestic buyers and frontline travel sellers.
This 'live' component of ATE 21 had more than 1,000 attendees, who connected over one-to-one appointments, as well as ATE lunches which included panel discussions that addressed topics such as the future of international aviation for Australia.
There were also content hubs dedicated to specific interests such as business solutions, indigenous, sustainability, and aviation; with content available on demand.
The subsequent online component, which is still ongoing, is estimated to involve more than 1,100 buyers and sellers. Combined, more than 57,000 appointments are expected to take place.
Also new to the trade show this year is a fresh layout and networking style.
Traditional seller booths were replaced with networking areas defined by state and territories, and with a higher seller-to-buyer ratio due to travel restrictions, it was the sellers moving between appointments while buyers remained stationary. This according to Tourism Australia helped in saving sellers considerable time, while also saving on booth design and imagery costs.
On LinkedIn, multiple planners and buyers expressed their excitement and experiences via the hashtag #ATE21.
Maggie Diasinos, senior global director of sales at Hyatt Hotels, shared: "The execution of the event from the arrival experience, through to the flow of the event as well as the food and beverage delivery was exceptional. A special mention to our industry friends based in Melbourne, I missed seeing you in person and I hope see you all soon."
Undeterred by travel restrictions, some, such as Chris Allison, head of commercial partnerships at The Americas hosted a BBQ event for buyers in Los Angeles and New York, who joined ATE appointments online.
Phillipa Harrison, managing director Tourism Australia, said: "Even though we weren't able to host all of our international partners in person, it's just been fantastic to be in the room with so many friends and colleagues and be reminded of why we do what we do."