With a showcase of its finest local culinary and incentive experiences, Australia sought to prove to discerning international buyers that there is no better place to meet and do business.

By Kristie Thong

A selected group of quality event buyers got a taste of Australia’s outstanding incentive experiences last December at Dreamtime 2013. Known as Tourism Australia’s signature event showcasing the very best of Down Under, the event was held from December 9-13 and hosted 85 international business events decision makers and 18 international media who converged in Melbourne for business and networking events before proceeding onto educational programmes in Adelaide, Cairns, Gold Coast, Northern Territory, and Sydney.

Buyers were treated to a rich variety of culinary menus designed by Australia’s most internationally recognised chefs and a comprehensive programme featuring lesser-known incentive experiences, held together by the strong ties of Australian hospitality.

The week-long Dreamtime event was an opportunity to ensure Australia remained top-of-mind internationally as an exceptional place to meet and do business, according to former Tourism Australia managing director, Andrew McEvoy.

“Exceptional experiences and world-class destinations, with the backdrop of a pristine natural environment, are key reasons why Australia consistently ranks as a preferred business events destination for the international market,” he said.

Important partners contributing to the success of Dreamtime 2013 included Virgin Australia and Singapore Airlines, which were on board as platinum and gold sponsors respectively.

Meet Melbourne

Dreamtime 2013 began with business sessions in the host city at Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre (MCEC). Pre-scheduled appointments during the day saw buyers and media meeting with Australian industry participants that included 12 national operators, sponsor airlines, and 55 state-based operators with representation from Queensland, New South Wales, Northern Territory, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, and Western Australia.

The following day saw buyers taking on full-day itineraries of the city’s culture and experiential offerings, from a millinery workshop and coffee making to an exploration of Melbourne’s hidden laneways and arcades, and even a helicopter flight along Great Ocean Road.

Secret Sydney

Buyers took off for educational programmes across the country after a grand send-off at the Regent Theatre. Buyers from North America proceeded to Cairns, Japanese and South Korean buyers to Gold Coast, and New Zealand and UK buyers to Uluru. To coincide with the Adelaide Ashes Test, Indian buyers participated in a tour of Adelaide prior to the business component in Melbourne for a day of cricket.

Sydney was the chosen destination for 50 buyers from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. With many in this group already familiar with Sydney as an incentive destination, Business Events Sydney crafted a unique programme that drew focus away from the harbour city’s renowned attractions for a fresh perspective.

Upon arrival, buyers were transferred to Rose Bay for an experience on board a 1850s-styled tall ship. Cruising across Sydney Harbour in style amid tales of Sydney’s rich history and iconic landmarks, the ship dropped anchor at the historic Rocks for lunch. Here at the Rocks, better known as the birthplace of colonial Australia, buyers indulged in a sumptuous seafood feast at Waterfront Restaurant.

A highlight of the Sydney educational programme was “My Sydney Stories Showcase”, a glimpse into the city’s best-kept secrets, frequented by locals but often overlooked by tourists and conference attendees.

The showcase began at Icebergs Dining Room and Bar on scenic Bondi Beach. Ignatius Jones, Australian creative event director who directed the 2000 Sydney Olympics opening and closing ceremonies, was there to share insights on Sydney’s transformation into the multicultural city of today, along with Australian designer fashion Ginger & Smart.

The group proceeded for a tour around the newly reopened Royal Randwick Racecourse, with Australian jockey Darren Beadman paying a special visit just before a phantom race for buyers to cast their “bets”.

Lunch was at The Grounds of Alexandria, an early 1900s factory warehouse converted into an inner city rustic sanctuary for specialty coffee, coffee research and testing facility, and a garden of sustainable vegetables and herbs. Celebrity chef Kylie Kwong, of famous restaurant Billy Kwong, conducted a cooking demonstration, which involved the use of indigenous vegetables, after which buyers settled down for a sumptuous lunch that included a dish Kylie prepared on-site.

Buyers visited the Sydney Dance Company next, through a backstage tour that saw some taking the stage with some dancers.

The last day of Dreamtime’s Sydney educational programme kicked off with a VIP shopping experience at Westfield Sydney, followed by a fun-filled afternoon of activities focused on three themes – Iconic Sydney, Naturally Sydney, and Adventure Sydney – from a city tour on Harley Davidson bikes and a Sydney harbour foreshore walk to adrenalin-pumping activities at Glenworth Valley. Buyers were in high spirits when the day ended with a prestigious farewell function at Government House, graced by George Souris, New South Wales Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Hospitality and Racing and Minister for Arts.

“Sydney is a city unlike any other, with something to suit every event budget, size and style. From the adventurous to the sophisticated, you can’t go wrong with Sydney as a destination that rewards, motivates and inspires. Importantly, the city caters for both first-time and repeat visitors – our strong reputation for delivering beyond expectations is built on a track record of success,” commented Lyn Lewis-Smith, CEO of Business Events Sydney.

In good taste

Apart from truly unique incentive experiences, Mr McEvoy feels it is also the country’s growing reputation as “a culinary destination that is drawing business events to Australia”. And at Dreamtime 2013, delegates were invited to enjoy the best locally produced gourmet delights.

Some got a taste of Guy Grossi and Tony Panetta’s perfectly-poached 63-degree organic eggs cooked carefully in their shells for over two hours at MCEC, while others sampled Shannon Bennett’s distinctly Australian menu at Vue Events at the Rialto, which included tea tree smoked salmon pearls, emu jerky, and salt cured wallaby and marron.

Delegates also indulged in celebrity chef Luke Mangan’s three-course menu featuring Tasmanian salmon and Victorian beef. m

Key Contacts:

Tourism Australia

Melbourne Convention Bureau

Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre

Business Events Sydney

Waterfront Restaurant

Icebergs Dining Room and Bar

Royal Randwick Racecourse

The Grounds of Alexandria

Sydney Dance Company

Vue Events at the Rialto