Greater international competition for meetings could see local convention bureaux focusing more on domestic business in the future.

Some of Australia’s larger convention bureaux love talking about international meetings wins.

And, while there is no argument that winning international meetings and events are important, not only for the economy, but for the potential they have in showcasing Australian expertise in specific fields of endeavour, what many probably don’t know is that domestic meetings and events make up the majority of revenue for many Australia cities, states and regions.

A snapshot around the country finds that domestic business events secured by the Melbourne Convention Bureau in 2013/4 accounted for 46 per cent of business, 30 per cent of total delegate numbers and 19 per cent of total economic contribution. It must be remembered that these are events that the Melbourne Convention Bureau is directly involved in securing. micenet AUSTRALIA believes there are many more domestic meetings held in Melbourne that are organised outside the realm of the bureau.

In Perth the figure sits at around 50 per cent of all meetings secured by the convention bureau coming from the domestic market. This figure, according to the Perth Convention Bureau excludes local and intrastate meetings.

The Adelaide Convention Bureau’s Damien Kitto says the domestic meetings market represents around 75 per cent of business secured by the bureau each year.

“Key markets include Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra,” Kitto says.

“In particular, there is a strong flow of financial and medical association conferences over the next few years that will deliver strongly for the South Australian visitor economy.”

Head north to the Gold Coast and that region’s bureau says 84 per cent of all meetings held in 2013/4 were domestic based.

International meetings, while accounting for 16 per cent of all meetings held on the Gold Coast, account for around 19 per cent of revenue.

Look local, think global

Head of the Exhibition & Event Association of Australia (EEAA), Joyce DiMascio, believes convention bureaux should be looking at locally-grown exhibitions and conferences with a view to “internationalising” these events to a global audience.

She believes that all types of business events – local, national and international – are important to a city or region, however, feels that there may be opportunities being missed because much of the larger bureaux focus on securing conventions run by international bodies.

“Sometimes we get caught up with this notion that the international event is worth more and we don’t take into account how long it takes to win the event,” she says.

“To secure an international meeting it can take you 10 years to actually win it. It’s a great event when it is held, it is good for the economy in financial terms, and then, in the majority of cases, we will never see that event again.

“What I am saying is why not look at some national meetings that have the potential to be turned into an Asia Pacific or international meeting? There is a very real opportunity for us to leverage our Asia Pacific geopolitical location by expanding on these events that already exist.

“There are also many national meetings that have the potential to attract a higher number of international participants. If Australia’s national water body, for example, is having its annual gathering, look at that event and think about inviting our near neighbours to attend.”

Ms DiMascio believes many local exhibitions are also ripe for being “internationalised”.

“We already have some outstanding exhibitions that can be further internationalised. Fine Food is an example where there is already a significant number of buyers and exhibitors attending from around the world.

“Let’s identify these exhibitions, these national and corporate meetings that have the opportunity to become more international.”

Ms DiMascio says there are already numerous events that are attracting incremental visitation from outside the state where they are being held. These include:

  • Australian Auto Aftermarket Expo – 34 per cent of participants attended from outside NSW.
  • Australian Fitness & Health Expo – seven per cent (2000 people) attended from outside of NSW.
  • Australian International Furniture Fair – nine per cent (645 people) attended from outside NSW.
  • ENTECH – 22 per cent (1000 people) attended from outside NSW.
  • Australasian Waste & Recycling Expo – 30 per cent attended from outside Victoria
  • Australasian Oil & Gas Exhibition and Conference – 12.5 per cent attended from outside WA

“We do need to bid for and secure international meetings, however, competition is getting tougher in this area. We should therefore be thinking about events that already exist and how we can internationalise these to a wider audience.”

By Brad Foster & Lauren Arena