Optimistic outlook for business events recovery: new study

Tourism Australia's Business Events Consumer Demand Project reveals pent-up demand and future decision-making factors.

Overall, some 70% of global respondents indicated they are likely to visit Australia in the next two years for an event.
Overall, some 70% of global respondents indicated they are likely to visit Australia in the next two years for an event.

In a new report, global business events leaders and decision makers may be deterred by Covid-19 restrictions, but general sentiments on the industry's future remain positive — and there are numbers to prove it.

The Business Events Consumer Demand Project (CDP) released by Tourism Australia surveyed more than 500 senior company managers in 11 of Australia's key source markets, including the UK, North America, China, New Zealand, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia.

In a clear sign of pent-up demand for in-person events, nearly half of the association respondents (45%) have in fact been running events the past 10 months, including those with physical attendees, while 43% of incentive respondents have planned overseas trips in the same time frame.

Three quarters of both association (72%) and incentive (70%) decision makers are likely to resume overseas events in the next 1.5-2 years. Less than a quarter of the 517 surveyed say they are uncomfortable with overseas travel.

And just like last year, respondents not only indicated that they'd hold the same or greater number of events (82% of association members, 75% of incentive planners). Post-pandemic event budgets will likely be higher as organisations tap on saved funds after not running face-to-face events for the past 18 months.

However, primary deciding factors cannot be separated from the pandemic — including restrictions on the number of event attendees, and the Covid 'safety status' of a destination, which includes its vaccine rollout.

Incentive travel planners also factor in the safety and security of a destination (non pandemic related) when organising overseas programmes.

Top 5 factors for association decision makers:
1. Safe destination (excluding Covid)
2. Effective vaccine rollout
3. Destination that has handled the pandemic well
4. Associated travel costs
5. Strength of the business events industry

Top 5 factors for incentive decision makers:
1. Safe destination (excluding Covid)
2. Destination that has handled the pandemic well
3. Effective vaccine rollout
4. Flights with no stopovers (post-pandemic)
5. Excellent business events facilities

Just like in 2020's CDP report, Australia continues to appeal as an international events destination, with eight in 10 association decision makers favouring the country's business events facilities, clean cities, good infrastructure and  appealing climate.

Overall, 69% of incentive decision makers indicated they are likely to visit Australia in the next two years — increasing to 82% in the next three years. Almost three quarters (79%) of association decision makers also indicated the likelihood of booking an event Down Under in the next two years.

"By understanding what influences decision makers when choosing a destination for business events, we can deliver strategies that capitalise on these factors and ultimately help secure more business for Australia once international travel resumes," said Tourism Australia’s Executive General Manager Commercial & Business Events Australia, Robin Mack.

However, as a result of continued border closures, the report notes that Australia is not currently included in the consideration set amongst those planning events in the medium term, even as the Northern Hemisphere opens up to wider travel opportunities.



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