If there’s one thing that’s a constant surprise about the Gold Coast is that every time you go there you find something that’s new, different and relevant to the business events sector.

Held once a year just before the winter chill bites – which it hardly does on the Gold Coast anyway – This is Gold Coast Business Exchange is designed for qualified conference and event planners who plan, research and make decisions regarding business event destinations.  It’s an opportunity to visit the Gold Coast and be inspired by new ideas and make connections with local partners.

The format involves venue site inspections, cocktail parties and dinners and a full day trade exhibition with speed-dating style chats with around 50 local meeting specialists.

This year’s TIGCBE saw attendees – about 100 in total – not only visit some old favourite venues but see some new ones for the first time. For me this included HOTA – the Home Of The Arts – the racecourse, and the super cool Miami Marketta. More about those later.

DAY 1

Attendees flew in from around the country early on the Sunday and taken straight to their hosted hotel for a quick freshen up before being whisked off to lunch at the RACV Royal Pines Resort.

Whether it was the stunning weather or the beautiful setting or a combination, this was definitely a great kick-off. Guests hopped on golf buggies for the short drive from the main hotel to the lunchtime event space that had been set up on a lawn with rustic long tables, umbrellas and a brigade of chefs ready and waiting to serve up a variety of sumptuous delicacies (with the pizzas the pick of the bunch for me).

There definitely wasn’t a better way to kick-start TIGCBE than sipping a nice wine and meeting the other attendees in such a stunning setting that the team called the Bellissimo Garden Lunch.

If you did hold a meeting at the RACV Royal Pines then you should definitely take advantage of the outdoor spaces it has to offer.

Visit www.racv.com.au/royalpines to learn more.

Well sated, site inspections followed, with the large group being split into smaller, more manageable groups. Among other places, our group visited The Collective Catering in Palm Beach which, as the name suggests, is a collective of five restaurants in the one space.

Visitors can select from any of the five restaurants downstairs and kick up their heels in the rooftop bar upstairs. Our group enjoyed a cocktail making class with the resident mixologist.

Visit www.thecollectivepalmbeach.com.au.

Next stop was for me one of the highlights of the entire trip. Just a short five minutes away is the Miama Marketta (Miami is the Gold Coast suburb). Miami Marketta is a hotspot for locals to eat, drink and dance on the Gold Coast each weekend. It offers street food, live music, fashion studios, poetry slams and art exhibitions.

Housed in a large warehouse space, mid-week Miami Marketta is a blank canvas for events with a difference. The fairy light laneway caters anywhere for guests of 100 to up to 1300, and has a range of spaces that would work incredibly well for dinners, cocktail parties or product launches. The gin bar tucked away in one corner is another highlight.

Visit www.miamimarketta.com.

Surrounded by parklands with the Surfers Paradise skyline as the backdrop, HOTA offers a selection of unique indoor and outdoor event spaces catering for intimate meetings to sophisticated gala dinners – great for launch parties.

Just a 10 minute drive from hotels along the Surfers Paradise strip, until now HOTA has been a bit of a sleeper in the events space. Officially opened in 1986 it was originally called The Keith Hunt Community Entertainment and Arts Centre. Its name was changed to the Gold Coast Arts Centre and later changed again to the The Arts Centre Gold Coast.

In 2018, a fresh rebrand took place to HOTA – Home of the Arts – with the expansion of the precinct and a more contemporary feel. It houses the Theatre 1 (with 1139 seats), Gold Coast City Gallery, two cinemas and the cafe as well as several stunning function rooms, a chapel and two small performance spaces.

With long-time business event practitioner Lindsay Wallace as the director of marketing, the centre is sure to catch the eye of visiting business event planners.

On a lovely night the green space around the main stage area, with the city lights as a backdrop, is a wonderful venue for a welcome cocktail party or special dinner that can be held right on the stage.

Visit www.hota.com.au.

DAY 2

Attendees got down to work on Monday after a breakfast enjoyed in their host hotel. Mine was poolside at the Sofitel Gold Coast. Yumola!

The speed dating component was held in an intimate exhibition space at the Gold Coast Convention & Exhibition Centre where attendees could touch base with product suppliers from a variety of disciplines.

An added bonus was that all delegates could also be personally fitted with a brand new pair of Maui Jim’s sunglasses courtesy of Nick Maynard. What a great option for a group if you’re meeting on the Gold Coast. Nick can bring his range of sunnies to your event here (and indeed anywhere).

Lunch was held upstairs at the GCCEC where attendees not only enjoyed a lovely meal but a great presentation from Anthony Ikin who gave an inspirational talk on his rise from doing handstands on the footy field, being the younger brother to rugby league legend, Ben Ikin, to being crowned World Aerobics Champion and much more.

His take-home included being true to yourself and others and following your dreams – dreams that have taken him from the Gold Coast to dancing at the Moulin Rouge and back home again.

The afternoon continued with more meetings followed by The Grand Gala courtesy of The Star Gold Coast and Dreamweavers.

The “dressy cocktail” instruction certainly fit the theme with the ballroom transformed into a Gatspy-style gala and a variety of entertainment. The “reveal” at the end of main course was good fun – showing another space at the rear of the stage area. Delegates walked from their tables, through the stage and into this new space where desserts – and more drinks – were waiting.

There were reportedly quite a few hosted buyers who kicked on after the formal part of the event had ended. This little piggy went home.

DAY 3

It was all fun and games on day three which began with breakfast poolside at the Hilton Surfers Paradise.

The group then headed off to Mantra at Sharks & Events Centre for a site inspection and an aerobics workout. The property has surprisingly good event spaces, especially its rooftop bar area that would be excellent for a cocktail event.

We then headed off to Dreamworld to see the newly born tiger pups and a lego challenge to design something “very GC” with the help of a true blue “lego master”. I’ll have you know my group won with an amazing design of one of the iconic Gold Coast lifesaving towers that the lego master just loved.

This was a fun and interactive game that worked well, especially for those who love the TV show. It’s amazing how the Type A personalities come out at this type of thing.

Lunch was at the Australian Outback Spectacular with two long tables smack bang in the centre of the arena. Our group was treated to a special show with a sophisticated display of projection mapping, great sound and, of course, galloping horses.

This is a great alternative event to a beachside theme for visiting Gold Coast groups and, it goes without saying, which would also be perfect for international groups.

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