Sydney

Leading experts representing an array of specialties within the special and business events world have come together to form the inaugural Ambassador Panel for both Sydney’s Event Showcase and the Australian Business Events Expo. Valerie Percival, special events manager, IBM Australia; Tana Pal, head of events, Group Internal Communications, Westpac; Carol Malloy, event manager, Telstra Corporation; Matt Jones, founder and consultant, Better Happy; Lena Malouf, event consultant; and Janene Wardrop, events manager, Australian Medical Association have all accepted their new role as ambassadors for the shows. Ms Percival said she was looking forward to activating her new role as ambassador. “From being involved in the first shows years ago, and having attended most of the events since that time, I strongly believe that the incorporation of this ambassador panel will offer insights into what works, what can be improved on, and how best to evolve the shows to stay ahead of the curve,” Ms Percival said. CEO of Exhibitions and Trade Fairs, Gary Daly, said having the ambassadors on board is an essential component of this year’s refreshed show strategy. “The forming of the Ambassador Panel presents a unique opportunity to bring the special and business event industries closer together, delivering inspiring and innovative content for the shows, and making sure that both events satisfy the needs of exhibitors and visitors,” Mr Daly said.

Brisbane

Brisbane’s hotels are experiencing massive growth and renewal with more than $AU88 million spent on refurbishments and upgrades in the past financial year, and a further $AU28 million in the pipeline for 2013. These figures, from the Queensland Hotels Association (QHA), reflect confidence in the Brisbane market and its ability to cater for business events of all sizes, said Brisbane Marketing Convention Bureau director Annabel Sullivan. “I cannot commend Brisbane’s hotels enough for investing so heavily in the future of our city and the future of Brisbane’s business events industry,” she said. “By having high-quality hotels on offer, Brisbane can effortlessly cater for any type of conference. This was certainly proven recently with the announcement the city will host the G20 Leaders Summit in 2014, which will bring more than 4000 delegates and 3000 domestic and international media to Brisbane.” In the 2011-12 financial year business events injected $266 million into Brisbane’s economy which was a 25 percent increase from the previous year.

National

After a busy few weeks in Sydney and Melbourne at workshops and attending the AIME exhibition destination management companies represented by DMS in Australia returned home. DMS said the group would like to thank all of the media, sponsors and industry for their attendance as all contributed to the success of their Australian visit. The general feedback was that they love the Australian/NZ market as they feel the industry is abundant with experienced professionals who are easy to work with. They find their Australian and New Zealand clients sophisticated, friendly and know what they are looking for, with the DMCs enjoying the chance to catch up with key clients during their visiting program.

Sydney

For the first time, the Australian Business Events Expo, and co-located tradeshow Sydney’s Event Showcase, will feature an all new and revamped two-day VIP Buyer Program providing exhibitors across both tradeshows the ability to have one-on-one meetings with some of Australia’s and the Asia Pacific’s most influential and prominent event buyers. With more than 60 targeted VIP buyers coming from the association, government, event agencies and the corporate sectors across the Asia Pacific region, the program offers all exhibitors unprecedented access to meet with pre-qualified event professionals with business in hand. Event director, Karen Krieger, recognised that guaranteeing the opportunity to secure face-to-face meetings with qualified buyers was a critical component to adding another level of ROI for exhibitors. “The primary reason organisations exhibit at tradeshows is to meet new clients, secure qualified business leads and in turn do business. This year for the first time, we have made sure that exhibitors to both tradeshows have this opportunity with the VIP Buyer Program. We also want to ensure the visitor has a positive experience at the event and can take part in a number of activities arranged for them. That said, each VIP will be pre-qualified and meet the selection criteria; they must be the decision maker or have direct influence over financial decisions, and have events needing suppliers.” Using an online buyer appointment system, exhibitors and VIP buyers will be able to pre-schedule one-on-one meetings, maximising the time spent conducting business over the course of the two-day tradeshows. VIP buyers will be treated to a two-day program including flights and accommodation.

To register your interest in being a VIP Buyer Program sponsor email kkrieger@etf.com.au or call 02 9556 7984.

Gold coast

Gold Coast Tourism CEO, Martin Winter, says the organisation is preparing to ramp up activity in the international meetings sector, launching an ambassador program in mid-March. Speaking at AIME in Melbourne in February, Mr Winter said the appointment of Anna Case as director of business events at the Gold Coast Convention Bureau in late 2012 had resulted in a raft of fresh ideas and new energy, and establishing an ambassadors’ program to help to sell the region and assist in bidding was just one of those.

Sydney

The historic Pumphouse bar in Darling Harbour relaunched in March to a packed crowd of revellers as it celebrated an impressive refurbishment and return as one of Sydney’s best craft beer establishments. As the crowning jewel of Novotel Rockford Darling Harbour, the Pumphouse, located opposite the Sydney Entertainment Centre is pumping once again. The lofty two-storey, heritage-listed space has been redesigned by PMDL architects and decorated with high tables, cow hide ottomans, a smattering of ‘love seats’, and artistic mood lighting while the original water pumping tanks which were in operation until 1975, are a prominent feature.

New South Wales

Michelin star chef and world-renowned restaurateur, Marco Pierre White recently took a well-deserved break from his hectic Australian schedule to rejuvenate in the surrounding countryside at Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa. White, who is residing in Australia while he mentors and judges chefs on the successful television program MasterChef Australia: The Professionals, traded in the frenzied kitchen atmosphere for a relaxing break in the tranquil bushland of the conservation-based resort. During his time at the resort, Amanda Keller from The Living Room and a TV crew visited to feature his stay in a segment of the lifestyle television show. Happy to hang up his apron, White took time out to indulge in local cuisine and beverages and fell in love with the resort. “Wolgan Valley is the jewel in New South Wales’ crown,” he said. Nestled in the heart of the Blue Mountains, just three hours from Sydney, the resort delivers a uniquely Australian, yet world-class cuisine experience enhanced by a seasonal, regional and organic food philosophy. Refined but unpretentious, the food prepared by executive chef Anston Fivaz celebrates the unique range of regional produce, with each meal featuring simple flavour combinations and high quality ingredients handled with great technique.

Sydney

About nine months before closing its doors for a makeover, the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre has unveiled a special logo to celebrate its 25th anniversary this year. With the tag line “25 Remarkable Years”, the logo interprets the colours of the existing centre symbol to present a reminder of the venue’s leadership and achievements since 1988. The Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre was opened by the Queen on May 4, 1988, as part of Australia’s Bicentenary celebrations. Centre chief executive Ton van Amerongen said the logo celebrates a milestone, not just for the centre but for the entire Australian business events industry. “The opening of the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre put Australia on the world meetings stage and paved the way for the development of the nation’s events industry,” Mr van Amerongen.

Starwood Openings

BY GRAEME KEMLO

Starwood Asia Pacific announced at AIME that it would open 30 new hotels in 2013, the majority in China with the rest in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, India and Sri Lanka.

Stephen Ho, President Asia Pacific said the company was on track to reach 400 operating hotels by 2016.
Melbourne will have another of the nine brands in the group, when Sheraton Melbourne opens in Little Collins Street on March 1, 2014, with 186 rooms and small meeting spaces.
Mr Ho said he wanted to have another Starwood-branded hotel in Melbourne focused on the convention sector. Melbourne already has a Westin and the upcoming Sheraton, so he was asked what other brand he would like to see in Melbourne. He refused to be drawn on specifics, but said “you would always want a serious meetings property in a city like Melbourne,” adding that they would consider both conversion of an existing property and a new build.
With the opening of the new W Bangkok this year, that city will boast eight of the nine Starwood brands, which were described as “a mindset, not a demographic”. Macau boasts Starwood’s largest hotel, The Sheraton Macao with two towers, a total room count of 3896 plus 15,000 square metres of meeting space.
In Australia, Four Points by Sheraton Perth opened in mid-2012; the 682-room Four Points by Sheraton Darling Harbour is opening four new meeting spaces as part of a $20 million renovation; the iconic Sheraton Noosa Resort is upgrading guestrooms, suites, villas and conference space in a $12 million refurbishment due for completion by August; and Sheraton Mirage Gold Coast completed a $26 million room refurbishment in January, which included a $6 million upgrade of meeting venues, incorporating the latest audio-visual technology.