With the second mega-incentive in 12 months just completed, the Gold Coast appears firmly on the
radar of Japanese corporates.

Around 1500 Japanese distributors of POLA Cosmetics concluded their 85th anniversary incentive reward program on the Gold Coast in early February with rave reviews for the destination, facilities, food and experiences.

Competing destinations for the event included Anaheim, Las Vegas, Sydney, Madrid and Rome, with the Gold Coast securing the win following a site inspection by the client in January 2014.

The 2015 Spring 123rd POLA Convention saw delegates arrive on direct flights from Japan to the Gold Coast in three waves, with all participants enjoying the culmination of the event, the awards ceremony followed by the gala dinner, both held at the Gold Coast Convention & Exhibition Centre (GCCEC).

Delegates were housed in some of the region’s best five-star hotels including Jupiters Hotel and Casino, Sofitel Gold Coast, Outrigger Surfers Paradise, Marriot Surfers Paradise, and Hilton Surfers Paradise, all located within a short walk to the convention centre.

General manager of POLA Inc.’s Sales Organisation Service Division, Kazuhiko Segaki, said this was the company’s first incentive program to Australia, with the Gold Coast fitting all their requirements exceptionally well.

As the 85th anniversary of the event, POLA Inc. wanted to hold the program outside of Asia and in a destination that offered warm weather in contrast to the winter in Japan.

“[We also] wanted somewhere that has good shopping and great natural [attractions],” Mr Segaki said.

And it appears the Gold Coast delivered.

The four day, five night program allowed delegates to sample some of the best offerings available in the region as well as conduct business sessions and celebrate their achievements at the gala dinner.

Understanding the client implicitly, local ground handler JTB Business World Travel & Solutions ensured activities included a mix of natural attractions with shopping experiences – served up with a healthy dose of the Gold Coast’s stunning fresh seafood and cuisine.

Daytrips to Tangalooma Island Resort with options including hand-feeding wild bottlenose dolphins, sand tobogganing and quad biking, a tour of Tamborine Mountain Glow Worm Caves in the sub-tropical Gold Coast hinterland, and a journey to Australia’s seaside village of nearby Byron Bay were popular, as were shopping expeditions to some of the Gold Coast’s most celebrated retail spaces.

The relaxed program also allowed delegates to slip off their shoes and walk on the white sands of Surfers Paradise beaches under resplendent blue Gold Coast skies.

Cuddling a koala was also high on the agenda for delegates and they weren’t disappointed, with trips to Dreamworld and Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary.

Masayoshi Yamada from JTB said feedback from the group had been excellent, with the success of this event giving the company the confidence to recommend the Gold Coast for future incentive business from Japan.

Gold Coast team approach

The Gold Coast Convention & Exhibition Centre was an imperative for the region to host the event because of POLA Inc.’s key requirement of a 40 metre stage for the gala dinner. So critical to the program, Gold Coast business event partners including Coastal Production which worked on stage design, operated collaboratively to make the space function effectively.

With a maximum capacity of 6020 theatre-style and 4600 for banquets, the centre easily accommodated the POLA Convention delegates at both the awards ceremony and later the gala dinner.

The centre’s executive chefs customised the gala dinner menu with Australian-inspired dishes including Black Angus Beef, local king prawns, and Tasmanian salmon. The centre’s chefs source 85 per cent of their produce locally.

An extra special touch was that Australian native wattles were incorporated in the awards presentation, and the Cooktown Orchid – Queensland’s floral emblem – were presented to winners.

As is often the case with high-profile events of this nature in the region, the Gold Coast Mayor made an official welcome prior to the group’s awards ceremony.

Gold Coast Tourism Corporation director of business events, Anna Case, said the destination’s “team approach” is a feature of all major events held locally.

“Securing this event was all about flexibility, communication and the expertise of our local operators,” Ms Case said.

“On top of that our natural and man-made attractions, our beautiful weather, and our ever-growing reputation for our fresh and modern cuisine is helping us attract a greater share of meetings and incentives.”