Convention Bureaux: more than just venue finding services

Andrew Hiebl, CEO of the Association of Australian Convention Bureaux (AACB), outlines the range of services a bureau can offer.

In an earlier column, I introduced some of the services provided by convention bureaux such as connecting you with local venues and service providers, and sourcing quotes. However, I also mentioned that they align their service and support offerings with their core purpose and target markets. I thought that I should expand on that.

Once upon a time, I could say that all convention bureaux were similar in structure and offered the same type of services to event organisers. But this has evolved over the last decade or so. To understand this better, let’s deconstruct a convention bureau’s model. They vary across Australia, but typically rely on a mix of public funding from state/territory and local governments, and private investment through the meetings and events industry. In collaboration with their funding partners, they will set the direction and growth targets of the bureau.

So why is that important? Well, charged with that information, you will be able to subtly identify which destinations can provide you with the best level of support. The make-up of funding between state and local governments will have an impact on bureau priorities. Take note if the bureau is an independent not-for-profit or if it is a division of a state/regional tourism organisation.

If a bureau’s government funding is channelled through a tourism portfolio, then odds are that the convention bureau will be more interested in the number of business events they attract, the number of delegates that attend, how long they stay and how much they spend. Yes, in this instance, size often matters. However, if a bureau’s government funding is channelled through an economic development portfolio, then they will be interested in growing industry sectors—nurturing new industries and future proofing tomorrow’s economy, or maintaining strong traditional industries. Alignment with state trade and investment priorities are key here. Or it could be a little of both. In any case, the better you can present your company and its events aligning with a destination’s priorities and leaving a local lasting impact, the more support you will receive from convention bureaux wanting your business.

The author
Andrew is CEO at the Association of Australian Convention Bureaux, and has a long career history in events, operations and destination management.