September 28, 2022 | By Gerardine Donough-Tan | Image credit: Tourism Australia

Tourism Australia’s 2022 Business Events Consumer Demand Project showed perceptions of Australia as an incentive destination are strong, particularly in South and Southeast Asia. Among 399 incentive travel corporate decision-makers surveyed, many from these regions reported planning an incentive trip to Australia in the next six to 36 months.

Robin Mack, Tourism Australia’s executive general manager of commercial and Business Events Australia, fielded micenet’s questions on the South-Southeast Asia (S-SEA) market.

Which countries are showing strong incentive buys or enquiries for late 2022 into 2023?

We are seeing a healthy appetite from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and India with new short-lead business. The number of enquiries from India between now and the end of the year is particularly strong, with the recent MDRT event in Sydney attracting 2,000 Indian delegates. There is also a keen interest around the time of the ICC T20 Men’s Cricket World Cup in October and November.

What sectors are these incentives from?  

Across S-SEA, we are seeing interest from several industries such as construction, infrastructure and real estate, manufacturing, consumer goods, retail, banking, financial services and insurance, direct selling and information technology.

Robin Mack, Tourism Australia’s executive general manager of commercial and Business Events Australia

Which cities or regions are winning repeat or new business? Any interest in regional Australia?

There is interest for incentive programs in our capital cities, including Sydney, Perth, Adelaide, Hobart and Brisbane, while there is particularly strong interest in Melbourne around the time of the ICC T20 Men’s Cricket World Cup. Outside of the capital cities, we are also seeing interest in the Gold Coast and Cairns.

Are incentive groups smaller and are organisers choosing more upscale or luxury properties?

Our research asked decision-makers about the size of their future incentive business trips abroad. Overall, most were optimistic. The vast majority of respondents from India and Indonesia said that they would look to have more attendees per event compared to pre-COVID-19. In India, 74 per cent expected to have more attendees, while in Indonesia 71 per cent do. In Singapore, 53 per cent expected to have more attendees than pre-COVID and in Malaysia, 51 per cent.

Respondents indicated that their budgets for incentive business trips abroad are likely to significantly increase in the next 12 months. Our market intelligence supports this, indicating groups from S-SEA are predominantly selecting four- to five-star accommodation for their programs.

Are itineraries more experiential and activity-based, and which countries more receptive to new experiences?

In the project, we asked respondents how appealing each of the following elements are as part of an incentive program in Australia: an indigenous-guided wildlife, art or culinary experience, a traditional Welcome to Country Indigenous ceremony, a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) related activity, and a wellness experience to improve health and wellbeing.

Respondents from S-SEA found all these experiences very appealing, with Malaysia and India indicating that a traditional Welcome to Country was the most appealing. Singapore respondents indicated an indigenous-guided experience as their top choice and Indonesian respondents found a traditional Welcome to Country and CSR activity equally appealing.

Any other observations outside of the research?

Trends we’re watching include the rise in demand for more sustainable business events products and experiences, including more eco-friendly venue and accommodation options. The inclusion of wellness experiences in programs links back to our research findings.

One of Australia’s strengths as a business events destination is that we are a multi-destination country. Prior to the pandemic, we saw companies such as Amway revisiting Australia with their groups dispersing to different Australian destinations to experience new unique experiences, delivered with the same warm and welcoming hospitality Australia is known for.

For delegates who have visited Australia before, in the last two years, new business events product options across the country include venues, accommodation and experiences. This further enhances our cities and provides business events planners with new products to include in their programs.