It probably won’t hit the highs of the national media’s love of travel, but Victoria’s inaugural Business Events Week (February 25 to March 1) could go some way to raising the profile of the value and importance of the business event sector. Victorian Minister for Tourism and Major Events, Louise Asher, announced the initiative in late 2012. “Business events generate extensive economic wealth for the local, state and national economy. In Victoria alone, business events inject more than $1.2 billion annually,” she said. Melbourne Convention + Visitors Bureau (MCVB) CEO, Karen Bolinger, said the organisation was very proud to be hosting the inaugural Business Events Week. “Having a week dedicated to business events is a major coup for our industry and we firmly believe it will assist us in communicating how valuable the industry is to the Australian economy,” she said. We can only hope some of our national newspapers and media outlets come onboard and support the sector as well.

Laura Richards from The Conference Business is “not happy Jan” about a certain regional NSW property that she placed two large pieces of business into in 2012. That wasn’t the problem of course. What was the problem is that the venue took a considerable amount of time to pay her the commission she was owed. “They kept emailing to advise I should expect my commission in the next few days [but] months later still nothing. I emailed the GM finally and said I wanted to be paid now. He told me that the longer I hassle them the longer it would take to be paid… Incredibly short sighted and incredibly stupid. I instructed my lawyer to send the owner of the property a letter in early January demanding payment but doubt even that will have any effect on them. It irks me when properties take our business in a nano second, however, then down the track don’t feel they should have to extend the same courtesy when they use delay tactics to pay us or decide to try and get away with not paying us at all.”
Naturally, micenet AUSTRALIA does not wish to get embroiled in what could be a legal stoush, and so we are not naming the property here. However, if you have had a similar experience with the slow payment of commissions then we’d love to hear from you. And if you want to discuss the matter further with Laura she can be contacted via email on Laura says in future she will be booking alternative venues to this property for her clients.

In response to guest feedback and focus groups with clients in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, Hamilton Island is now offering free WiFi in its conference rooms. Business tourism manager, Julie Ford, said in the focus groups one of the hot topics was that Australia seemed to be behind our Asian neighbours as far as free WiFi goes. “So we decided to offer it as a value add for all our conference and incentive groups. Hopefully this will encourage other Australian venues to do the same.” We say good on you Hammo!

And can somebody tell us why all hotels in Australia don’t now offer free WiFi like their Asian counterparts? Even a capped download limit would be better than nothing. This would alleviate sneaky people sitting in hotel lobbies or indeed in their rooms downloading excessive files and at the same time assist business travellers and conference delegates with their day to day activities. There has to be win-win for all concerned.

It’s nice to see that some hotels continue to go the extra mile when it comes to site inspections, with Brisbane’s Royal on the Park doing just that recently when a group of PCOs (and one journalist) dropped in as part of Brisbane Marketing’s Grow Famil Campaign. PCOs were welcomed at the property with a presentation on the benefits and features of a selection of microphones by the in-house AV company. At the side of the presentation stage was a plasma screen which had all of the famil participant company logos on it. Obviously somebody (in the hotel) had been doing a little research prior to the group arriving. What was also nice was that the GM of the property personally escorted the group during the brief stay. An extra special touch indeed.

The latest survey of salaries in the business event sector conducted by Event Recruitment (see page 10) paints a pretty poor picture of the state of the sector when you take into account that those working in the area of middle management received no pay increases in 2012. Event managers, conference managers, exhibition managers, and venue managers saw salaries unchanged throughout the year, according to the study, with information tabulated from more than 1300 respondents all working in the sector. Marketing managers and business development managers did see a slight rise which Event Recruitment attributes to companies trying to secure more business in what has been a difficult trading period. micenet AUSTRALIA hopes that the stagnating salary trend doesn’t continue throughout 2013 or experienced practitioners may consider a change of careers or pack up and move to greener pastures in Asia and parts of the Middle East.

The Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB) called in the big guns to assist in organisation of its Sydney and Melbourne client dinners in December last year, creating what we believed were a cut above the standard fare. MyCEB called on Peter Jones and the Peter Jones Special Events team to create and manage the two nights which saw Masterchef contestant and now television personality Poh Ling Yeoh, present the food. Prior to dinner being served she gave guests an insight into what food she had prepared and details of her Malaysian heritage, and at the end of the evening she was available to sign copies of her book which were given as a gift to guests. MyCEB even utilised the services of a professional MC to ensure the event ran extra smoothly. And it did! Read more about Malaysia and the dinner we attended in this edition from page 145.