Increasing lost opportunities for international conferences highlights need for government action
The Association of Australian Convention Bureaux (AACB) has released its latest Forward Calendar of International Business Events, which shows that 396 international business events are set to come to Australia, a 3 per cent increase from the January 2017 report.
The bad news is that lost business for the future has grown by 7 per cent to 316 business events. A shortening of average business event duration is also predicted to negatively impact total delegate spend.
“There is no doubting the important work that convention bureaux do to secure international business events for Australia; conventions, exhibitions and incentives that wouldn’t otherwise come to the country,” said Andrew Hiebl, CEO of AACB.
“AACB’s members have worked to attract approximately 222,500 international delegates to Australia across the next decade, equating to over half a billion dollars in direct delegate spend.
“This outcome has been predominantly driven by the strength of our professional bid delivery, financial support put forward by state and local governments, and the industry – overlaid by the fact that Australia is a safe and highly desirable destination to hold an international event.”
However, Hiebl says that the number of business events lost remains a concern.
“In parallel to the forward calendar of events secured, we’ve lost 316 future events with the potential for 267,500 international delegates to be attracted to our shores,” he said.
“This lost business equates to more than one billion dollars in direct delegate spend which will now take place in competing countries.
“International business events attract high yielding visitors and are therefore highly sought after. Key reasons why organisers choose competing destinations are Australia’s geographic isolation from the rest of the world, executive influence and cost factors.
“If Australia is to secure even more international business events, strong consideration should be given to the establishment of a dedicated national convention bid fund, an initiative which other countries now have in place to mitigate the risks of hosting international business events in long-haul destinations.”
The current bid pipeline has 206 international bids in play, with an economic benefit estimated at more than half a billion dollars, and 139,000 international delegates.
The news follows Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Steven Ciobo’s recent visit to IMEX America to help promote Australia as a business events destination. It was the first time a Federal Minister has ever attended an international business events trade show.
Karen Bolinger, AACB President and CEO of Melbourne Convention Bureau, said that it was great to have the Minister walk through the trade show and see the level of competitiveness within the business events industry.
“It was fantastic to have the Minister join us in Las Vegas last week to see, first hand, the highly competitive nature of our industry and the potential for strategic trade and investment opportunities for Australia provided by international business events,” she said.
“The timing is important, as Australia’s international rankings continue to drop, falling to 16th in 2016. A decade ago, Australia was consistently among the top 10 most popular countries to host major international association conventions.”