In the first of a new regular column, Tourism Australia’s Head of Business Events, Penny Lion, gives readers a snapshot of the organisation’s current business events marketing activity.

By PENNY LION, Head of Business Events Australia

Dreamtime 2013, Tourism Australia’s signature meetings & incentives trade event, will be held from December 9 to 13 and will see approximately 100 international business events decision makers (buyers) and media converge on Melbourne for two days to experience Australia’s capabilities for doing business.

The business program and networking events, hosted in conjunction with the Melbourne Convention Bureau, will be followed by three days of educational visits with buyers travelling to the following destinations:

Buyers from NZ and UK travelling to Uluru
India – Adelaide
South East Asia (Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore) and China – Sydney and Hong Kong
Japan and Korea – Gold Coast
USA – Tropical North Queensland

We really take time to qualify the buyers who attend Dreamtime. Although numbers are important it’s more about the quality of the buyers that we bring to the event. We ask them whether they’ve been to Australia before, if so when, and have they been to Dreamtime; then we look at things like their client base, the long haul business they’re writing, and their potential to bring more business to Australia. Our entire remit is to increase the consideration of Australia for meetings and incentives, and Dreamtime is a signature event to do just that.

We’ve consolidated our approach to the trade program so that every time we bring an educational visit to Australia through our normal trade activity we treat each group as though they’re on a VIP incentive. When you’ve only got a group of say 10 buyers on an educational there’s only so much you can do. When you have a group of 100-plus media and Australian industry you have an event for around 200. With this size group, as will be the case with Dreamtime, we have the ability to show the buyers there really is nothing like Australia.
We talk about Dreamtime being a signature event and I really think that it is. Not many other countries offer this kind of experience on this scale.

We really want to encourage industry to be involved in Dreamtime. Dreamtime is not just about bringing buyers to Australia and showing them our icons. We’re really trying to portray that Australia is leading the world in terms of event management and there are so many different options available. For us to be able to do that we really want to encourage the Australian MICE industry to attend Dreamtime in Melbourne. If it comes down to availability or budget then I would encourage you to talk to me and my team about getting involved.

Instead of investing in a tradeshow overseas and all the costs that involves, industry can consider Dreamtime in Melbourne – in their own backyard – and actually have access to these qualified buyers. As further incentive we have reduced the cost of participating in Dreamtime this year.

Looking further ahead

Each year we do a full analysis of what we are doing, what is working well, what could be improved, and where the opportunities are.
Clearly business events out of China are offering huge potential. Spend by Chinese delegates presently equates to 42 per cent of overall inbound spend in Australia in business events. A large part of our focus is, therefore, on more growth out of Asia.

But we will not and cannot forget our traditional markets. We are seeing a return to growth from the USA, and there are good news stories coming out of the UK.
Our numbers are, however, dropping out of New Zealand – our closest market and traditionally our biggest market in terms of numbers coming to Australia for an event. A focus for us is to remind New Zealand that Australia can deliver and we have so much more to offer than what they may have already experienced.
What we do in all markets is tell the story of why there’s nothing like Australia. Traditionally we’ve done part of this through PR and advertising spend, and we’re still doing so but we’re being smarter about how we do it. Instead of just placing brand advertisements in industry publications overseas, we’re doing a range of things depending on the market we’re in.

In Korea, for example, they are so digitally savvy that we only place digital advertisements, and we’re seeing that work incredibly well. The target audience in Korea is responding well, and we can measure this by the number of click throughs to our website and the amount of time visitors are spending there.
We are, of course, doing so much more, and i will touch on this growth in the next article.

I also expect to report on a successful Dreamtime program. And remember, if you would like to be involved in Dreamtime or any of our marketing activities then please make contact.

Visit our website www.businessevents.australia, or subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter for regular updates.