BE Australia: “We Are a Relationship Business!”

24th Nov, 2022

Australia conjures up images of golden beaches, stunning landscapes and unbeatable cities, but this is just the tip of the iceberg for Australia’s strong drawcards for the MICE industry. At the recent IMEX Frankfurt, Business Events Australia unveiled a new campaign, "There's Nothing Like Australia for Business Events". Find out more.

Tourism Australia’s (TA) specialist business unit, Business Events Australia (BEA), launched two new business event campaigns in late March marking a turning point for the domestic sector and giving the green light to the long-awaited reopening to the international market. In a way, the strategic plan that paved the way for “There’s Nothing Like Australia for Business Events” was outlined by the first signs of domestic recovery from “Event Here This Year” right after the lockdown. Two months later at IMEX Frankfurt, BEA rolled out the second phase of this international branding campaign to drive demand for Australia as a preferred destination among incentive and association clients. After the official presentation, we spoke with TA’s Executive General Manager Commercial & Business Events Australia, Robin Mack, about this new campaign that launched into key global markets such as Europe, North America, Southeast Asia and New Zealand.

“We continued to deliver marketing activity throughout the pandemic and made sure we were well prepared to launch the new campaign when the moment was right. The creative strategy behind the campaign highlights that Australia has everything you would expect from a business destination, with our point of difference being our friendly people who offer fresh perspectives.” The campaign features a number of top tier BE products, all of which have a strong sustainability offering. In Australia, this “green awareness” came long before the emergence of the pandemic, something that Mack confirms, “sustainability has always been part of TA’s Act which was developed in 2004. What I think is happening now is that the conversation is widening with a deeper impact and more compelling arguments.” As a National Tourism Organisation, the educational component and the advocacy of great Australian stories from a sustainability perspective is a legitimate claim. “There are quite a few stories we are broadcasting through our channels and interactive formats, such as the Australia Next magazine or the Australia Innovates video series, because we know it’s important to those who follow us,” adds Mack.

BEA has partnered with the Exhibition & Events Association of Australasia to develop a carbon calculator, enabling event organisers to assess the impact of their events and how to offset it. Putting words into practice, TA used this calculator to deliver the Australia Tourism Exchange in May as a carbon neutral event. It’s not only the event industry that has become more conscious, the accommodation sector has also opened 100 new or renovated hotels, many of which are environmentally friendly. And it goes across the board. Sustainability and Indigenous Heritage are two of TA’s top priorities, and are represented by the Heads of Sustainability and Indigenous Affairs − two new roles within TA. Phil Lockyer (the new position in charge for Indigenous affairs) was responsible for the design and delivery of the organisation’s Reconciliation Action Plan − on the occasion of the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games − and wider Indigenous initiatives.

Mack explains, “Social legacy is something we certainly look at in everything we do. One example is the SportAccord World Sport and Business Summit, held on the Gold Coast in 2019, which we supported through our Bid Fund Programme. This event brought 1,700 people to Australia, including sports personalities, event organisers and associations, but also Olympic Committee members. This is significant as Brisbane was later selected as the host city for the 2032 Summer, a great legacy for the country.” Bringing people to a destination offers a global stage for the country, and that’s what BEA believes Brisbane has achieved through the event. The Olympic Games are estimated to bring a projected $17.6 billion to the Australian economy when the event takes place. “Another example is in relation to the 68th International Astronautical Congress, an association event held in 2017, where a new space agency for Australia was announced. This event, which was the largest that Adelaide hosted in 2017, had an incredible legacy for Adelaide and more broadly Australia. Australia’s new space station was set up in an area called Lot Fourteen, a precinct for entrepreneurship, tourism and culture, located in Adelaide’s Central Business District. And in 2021, the Australian Space Discovery Centre also opened in the precinct, providing a place to inspire and educate young Australians.

For TA, it wasn’t difficult to reconnect with all their partners and members and the key to that was communication. “Investing in relationships is crucial to our business. Throughout the pandemic, we have ensured our connection to the local and national industry on the ground remained strong by virtue of our communication and campaigns. As for partnerships with airlines, DMCs and regional offices, we didn’t walk away from them thinking we could pick them up later − we stayed connected. We operate in a relationship business.” Opting for the digital format, the business links with some Asian clients were maintained, welcoming the buyers from a distance but with the national industry together. So, for Robin Mack, “digital transformation has helped us a lot, and perhaps this hiatus has served to stretch the reach of the technology world. We see this digital phenomenon more as a support tool for us rather than a platform for interaction. Though we firmly believe the events we run in Australia cannot be replicated online. You can’t duplicate the networking that exists face-to-face in a seminar or a plenary session, into the virtual world.”

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