“The notion of incentives for Brisbane isn’t new, we just haven’t driven it,” says Rob Nelson, Brisbane Convention Bureau’s general manager. Things are changing though, with Brisbane now firmly in the incentive driving seat and hitting the gas hard. A surge of new hotel infrastructure and eye-popping developments mean that Brisbane is ready to pull the trigger on attracting big incentive groups, with Dreamtime 2017 the perfect opportunity to showcase the city to new overseas markets.
“The decision to be more proactive in this space follows in the footsteps of other Australian destinations,” says Nelson.
“We all look at each other to see what we are doing, and it is well publicised how well Sydney and particularly the Gold Coast have been in getting some really big numbers from key markets. What we hear is that there is still a very strong interest in Australia combined with an appetite for new locations.”
The three main drivers for Brisbane’s push are more hotel rooms, new hotel brands coming online, some big infrastructure projects such as the $3 billion-plus Queens Wharf development in the western CBD and an increase in air access. Brisbane Airport is being transformed with a new precinct and a runway expansion that will see it offer greater capacity than Singapore’s Changi Airport when it’s finished in 2020.
Projects such as Queens Wharf, which will add 11,000 new hotel rooms including a Ritz Carlton, a bridge connecting it to the South Bank precinct and capacity for 60,000 people in open public space, mean Brisbane will have the product to support larger incentive groups when finished in 2022.
“Those kind of developments in our own backyard and our openness to market ourselves as a dual itinerary with other destinations, we think we have a really good offering now,” says Nelson.
The Bureau is looking at two, three or maybe at a stretch four day itineraries that take in an urban experience, a beach experience and a rainforest experience.
“We have looked at what’s an hour from the CBD and you can absolutely tick the Australian bucket list from Brisbane,” he says. Anchor the group in Brisbane, with Surfers Paradise, Australia Zoo, Tangalooma Island Resort on Moreton Island all within striking distance. A dual destination with the Whitsundays and the Great Barrier Reef is also “a really good offering”.
Major events are another key driver for Brisbane, which has just finished hosting the World Science Festival for a second year. The Festival, which is exclusively hosted in only New York and Brisbane, has “exceeded all expectations”, according to Nelson.
“Market research has showed that the notion that it is [hosted] only in Brisbane and New York carries a lot of weight. That’s a very strong brand proposition for us and gives is a lot of credibility,” he says.
“Using major strategic events to anchor off the back of business events is a focus for us. We are always looking to see what we spin off the back of these major events.”
Brisbane is also looking to showcase its appeal to international buyers when it hosts Dreamtime later this year.
“I attended 2015 Dreamtime in Adelaide and was impressed with the interest the buyers had in a destination that possibly wasn’t well known to them,” says Nelson. “And I was impressed by the way Adelaide was showcased. We decided to go for 2017 as we have a great story to tell.”