The Australian business events industry’s leadership convened at ICC Sydney earlier this month at a roundtable meeting to thrash out the future of business events in the country.
The Business Events Industry Roundtable was jointly hosted by peak industry body, the Business Events Council of Australia (BECA) and Tourism Australia. The workshop focused on building an understanding of the immediate objectives for the sector as well as obtaining business events industry insights to inform the Reimagining the Visitor Economy strategy for Tourism 2030.
Incorporating panel sessions, guest speakers, small group discussions and report-backs, the workshop was attended by 75 industry leaders and senior executives both in person and virtually (due to Covid restrictions impacting travel from Victoria state). Attendees from the BECA network represented Australia’s convention bureaux, convention centres, organisers, meetings, exhibition, and events communities as well as other influential leaders from the business events industry.
Representatives from Tourism Australia, Business Events Australia, Austrade and the expert panel overseeing the Federal Government’s Reimaging the Visitor Economy strategy for Tourism 2030 were also in attendance to assist in ensuring the outcomes of the session were incorporated into the final report.
Tourism Australia’s managing director, Phillipa Harrison, opened the workshop and said: “During what has been the most challenging period on record for tourism, we welcome the opportunity to support the business events sector in bringing together key stakeholders from across the industry to discuss what’s next in these uncertain times.”
There was a consensus over the importance of presenting a strong and united voice to governments and recognition of the need for greater peak body resourcing to ensure consistent and impactful advocacy.
Key short to medium-term objectives of the sector to enable recovery and future growth are to:
- Build confidence to meet by promoting what’s possible, increasing certainty for planning, and reducing financial risk;
- Address immediate workforce shortages and skills gaps;
- Secure government support for attracting and fulfilling the potential of business events.
Over the longer term, priorities identified were:
- Setting an ambitious AUD$50bn target for 2030, including the contribution of business events to Australia’s broader economic and industry development goals;
- Building a future-ready workforce;
- Developing growth strategies in partnership with Government to 2030, underpinned by data and backed by budgetary commitment.
BECA deputy chair, Geoff Donaghy (pictured) said: “There was strong support for BECA to continue its role of uniting the industry and its advocacy role with the Federal Government.
“There was an endorsement of the BECA Recovery and Rebound Framework, as the vehicle to deliver this message, which will now include an industry vision to 2030. There was also strong acknowledgement for a broader membership and resourcing base in this role,” he said.
The vital next steps recognised by the leadership group were to:
- Advocate to Government for a clear re-opening roadmap for business events;
- Review and refresh the BECA Recovery and Rebound Framework for united industry advocacy including a vision to 2030, to be shared with the Reimagining the Visitor Economy Expert Panel; and to
- Undertake industry consultation for consolidating business events representation and increasing resourcing for the peak body to promote consistent messaging.