“Business events for Victoria in total are around the $12 billion dollar mark but there has not been a great amount of research done on the actual value of regional business events, so landing on an exact figure has always been a bit of a challenge,” he told micenet.
Porter believes the newly formed Australian Business Events Association will give him the numbers following a proposal to do the research over the next 12 months. The numbers could come in as one of the most important regional initiatives, the new Nyaal Banyul Geelong Convention and Event Centre heads towards a 2026 opening, to compete with a number of similar centres along Australia’s east coast.
Porter said having a 1,000-seat plenary at Geelong would open opportunities never before available to a Victorian region.
Asked whether Melbourne to some extent over-shadowed regional Victoria because it punched above its weight for its size and had won international acclaim for its business events performance, Porter said, “I think it is important that Melbourne does punch above its weight and we do get that global profile of Melbourne from a business events perspective”.
“But there is a lot going on out in our regions – lots of new hotels have been built, new product [has] come online over the past 12-18 months – but it has been in the haze or the shadow of COVID. But now it has given us a spotlight to show what there is to do in regional Victoria,” he said.
He said many of the venues for events in the regions were easily accessible from Melbourne on the road or rail network. He cited the Goods Shed a redevelopment of historic buildings in the old railway station precinct at Ballarat.
“Having another reason to go to a place like Ballarat and host an event at a brand new property is exceptional,” Porter said.
He agreed that the 60-90 minute distance from Melbourne’s CBD firmly placed many events in the regions.
“I agree that getting the team away from the distractions of Melbourne is a really good thing…although we have got venues that are within half an hour of Melbourne. And that’s the competitive advantage Victoria has over a lot of other regional destinations…it is a compact state.
“I always say a conference room is a conference room: it is four walls, chairs and a projector, things like that, but the benefit of hosting an event in the regions is what comes around it, what else you can do in the natural environment to get your team thinking differently,” said Porter.