The newfound focus on regional Australia

Andrew Hiebl, CEO of the Association of Australian Convention Bureaux (AACB), shares insights on regional events from a recent convention in Tasmania.

I would like to start by commending Executive PA Media for continuing the Corporate Event Organiser Survey in 2019. It has again proven valuable in gaining a better understanding of the significant role that EA’s play in the business events industry. I would like to focus this column on the survey finding that showed while the corporate event market is softening, the support for hosting business events in regional Australia continues to grow—possibly even in lieu of taking events offshore. This is a significant point of interest as the Australian Government and industry seek to disperse business opportunities into regional Australia and local communities doing it tough.

The 2019 survey found that EAs reporting they had organised events in regional Australia rose from 29 percent in 2018 to 37 percent. Further, the results show EAs are choosing regional Australia for more than two events. Over 21 to 23 October, Australian Regional Tourism Limited held its annual convention in Devonport, Tasmania, with the theme ‘Exploiting the newfound focus on Regions’, where I was privileged to facilitate a panel session on regional business events with representatives from Business Events Tasmania, Business Events Victoria and Destination NSW.

Key highlights reported by these convention bureaux included

“We are definitely seeing an increase in demand for corporate and incentive groups in regional Tasmania, particularly focused on leadership retreat-style events. Our regional areas provide a welcome escape from big city events,”  Marnie Craig, CEO, Business Events Tasmania.

“Business Events Victoria continued its focus on the client as a key pillar within its 2019-2022 Strategic Plan launched in late 2018, providing a clear direction for the regional Victoria business events industry and the organisation,” Chris Porter, Executive Officer, Business Events Victoria.

“A highlight for the regional conferencing unit this year was our collaborative presence at AIME; partnering with 24 regional NSW operators and destinations to showcase the very best the state has to offer in creating unforgettable, engaging business events experiences,” Helen Parker, Manager, Regional Conferencing, Destination NSW.