NAME: Steve Rosa

BUSINESS NAME: Destination Southern Highlands

POSITION: Group manager

What are you working on right now in anticipation of a return of events?

Destination Southern Highlands in conjunction with its local Business Events Industry has drafted a five-year Business Events Strategy, 2021-2025, to position and present the Southern Highlands as NSW’s premier small group business events destination. A desired outcome of this strategy is to boost midweek corporate expenditure. Achieving this outcome will benefit operators in the conference market, and the entire supply chain including supplementary service providers, suppliers and employees. Implementation of this strategy is designed to significantly increase conference business to the region targeting groups of 200 and less. A variation of the Destination Southern Highlands brand has been created for the conference market – “Sydney’s Southern Highlands, so close, a world away.” This leverages the key strengths of proximity to Greater Sydney (“so close”), and highlights the distinct country ambience and exciting range of outdoor, nature-based, farm-based, food and wine and immersive delegate experiences (“a world away”). The appeal for corporate clients is that the country, semi-rural, ambience of the Southern Highlands represents an ideal location to escape to from their usual workplace environment to a retreat.

What’s one lesson you have learnt during the COVID-19 lockdown period?

The forced ‘time-out’ period gave our destination and its industry an opportunity to re-evaluate our business events proposition and to re-invent, re-position and re-think our approach and our ability to deliver a quality offering to the business events market. It allowed us to get our house in order via audits, reskilling industry operators and undertaking famils to stimulate future conferences, incentives and events for our region when corporates feel comfortable to travel in 2021 and onwards.

What do you value more now than you may have pre-COVID-19?

The opportunity to spend quality time to develop new products and experiences for the conference market and build on our branding and story as an emerging business events destination.

How do you think events will change in the future?

Business events will become more conscious of the health safety of their delegates. PCOs and event buyers will become more particular about where and when they conduct events and there will probably be a change towards smaller and manageable events in safe and easily accessible destinations and venues. Virtual meetings will become the new norm given the COVID trials of such events and the cost savings to corporates by undertaking such.

Why are events important?

For regional Australia they provide an opportunity to deliver much-needed mid-week expenditure for the local economy as well as supporting full time tourism and hospitality jobs. It also offers higher yield expenditure that the tradition leisure market visit. Events also provide an opportunity for return delegate visitation to the destination as a leisure visitor with family and friends. They can also lead to showcasing a destination’s strengths as a place to invest, work, live, learn and play in.