Tourism Australia’s specialist business events team has completed a second wave of research to gauge the attitudes of Australian corporate decision makers towards domestic business events. The Business Events Australia (BEA) findings show an uptick in confidence since the first wave of research was completed in August 2020, with businesses increasingly planning events despite restrictions on attendee numbers remaining a barrier.

The results of the October 2020 research, which involved an online survey of 459 corporate event decision makers in Australia, found the proportion of businesses currently planning events in Australia within the next six to 12 months has increased to 59 per cent (up from 48 per cent compared with August 2020). That number jumps to 73 per cent when decision makers consider events in the next 12 to 24 months (compared to 73 per cent in August 2020).

Executive general manager events at Tourism Australia Penny Lion said: “The findings of this second round of research shows that Australian businesses continue to show intent to start running larger events in the near future, especially state-level or national conferences.

“We also found there is a desire among businesses to get back to face-to-face events. Whilst significant challenges lie ahead for the industry, we are stepping in the right direction towards restarting business events in Australia.”

When asked why businesses would consider events in the next 12 to 18 months, the most popular reasons were to build team morale (59 per cent, up two per cent since the first wave of research) and to reward employees (55 per cent, up from 51 per cent).

The appetite to relocate at least one overseas corporate event to Australia in the next 12 months has also increased since the first wave of research, with the latest wave showing 83 per cent of businesses surveyed somewhat likely to relocate an event compared to 77 per cent in August 2020.

The survey found that corporate event decision makers are acutely aware of the restrictions in place that limit the number of people attending events.

Over half (55 per cent) say future business events will involve some form of travel whilst travel restrictions remain a significant barrier, making intrastate travel favoured over interstate travel. There are concerns over the COVID-19 safety reputation of destinations with 43 per cent of decision makers ranking this as their number one concern influencing the decision about interstate events.

Businesses that have not held any domestic events since the onset of COVID-19 indicate that a complete lifting of restrictions on the number of event attendees (47 per cent) and the development of a vaccine (45 per cent) would be most likely to encourage them to resume events immediately. However, this group now seem less likely to require zero COVID-19 cases in Australia before they will consider holding business events (down 16 per cent since August 2020).