Elizabeth Rich reflects on the benefits of ambassador programs after attending the BE Sydney Ambassadors’ dinner.

A cynical colleague once remarked that ambassador programs were the refuge of lazy marketers. That person couldn’t be more wrong, because these programs work on so many levels. As I sat and watched the latest investiture dinner for Business Events Sydney’s 2013 batch of new ambassadors I thought how far we had come as an industry.
High profile academics, specialists, business people who used to step in and out of our lives for the duration of various international conferences, are now being woven into our industry, working with us to drive more business. The meetings leads are obvious and easily tracked. It’s the intangibles which fly below the radar but which can also be very powerful.
The profiling of the business events industry is a valuable by-product. Government is impressed by these efforts to corral some of the brightest stars in industry and academia, evidenced by Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner’s speech at the BE Sydney event. The dynamics of gathering these people for face-to-face networking can not only build the prestige of business events, but can lead to serendipitous outcomes.
When you see Business Events Sydney having the smarts to identify their ambassadors with the NSW Government’s priority industry sectors, you know that the industry is maturing – cleverly embedding itself into sectors outside the traditional tourism paddock. The BE Sydney Ambassadors and Future Leaders Dinner was a quality evening, packed with talented professors, AOs and AMs, and CEOs who have achieved excellence in their fields. The focus was definitely engagement on a business level, with an insightful panel discussion around the topic “Australia… land of opportunity?”.
But why do these busy leaders agree to sign up as “ambassadors” to help identify potential conferences?
One CEO of a government agency gave me an answer which I suspect reflects many of his fellow ambassadors.
“When approached, I checked it out with my people and found out BE Sydney was a credible organisation doing good work,” said Dr Adi Paterson, CEO of the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO).
“I said yes because I could see the direct benefits to Sydney and the community.” m


No expansion for Melbourne centre

The Exhibition and Events Association of Australasia (EEAA) has expressed its disappointment the Victorian Government has not committed to expanding Melbourne’s exhibition facilities in the 2013 State Budget handed down recently.
The association has been campaigning for the government to allocate the funds for the expansion that was part of the vision for the site. EEAA general manager, Joyce DiMascio, said when the new Melbourne Convention Centre opened in 2009 the industry believed the next stage of the expansion would be built within a few years. However, competition for funding of other capital works and social infrastructure continues to put this crucial project back.
“While the Victorian Government has a history of support for the events sector, it risks compromising the growth of the Victorian industry and its flow-on economic benefits to the state,” she said.
“Many events organised by EEAA members are venue-bound. The size and availability of space has reached capacity and Melbourne risks turning away new business and larger exhibitions.” The latest EEAA Market Monitor shows Melbourne has attracted more than 50 per cent of the new shows planned for 2013.
“This healthy market will be compromised if events cannot continue to grow and if infrastructure is not updated with state-of-the-art services.”
EEAA President, Matt Pearce who heads Diversified Exhibitions, one of the biggest exhibition organisers in Australia, says it is becoming increasingly difficult to squeeze into an under-sized venue.
“Melbourne leap-frogged the rest of the country in 2009 with the opening of the convention centre. It’s now disappointing that this momentum is not being maintained.