The business events sector is high yielding, generating more than $7.5 billion annually in direct visitor expenditure for NSW*.
Domestic overnight conference visitors spend much more on average per night in NSW than domestic leisure visitors do per night. They also often travel during the week and in off-peak seasons and return to a destination for multiple events, or at later dates, as a leisure traveller. For more information on business events in NSW click here.
What are business events?
Business events is a generic term covering a variety of events such as group meetings, gatherings or tours – all with some form of professional travel purpose – as opposed to travel for leisure. The recognised industry definition of a business event is a public or private activity for 15 or more people who meet with a common interest or vocation.
Business event participants are referred to as delegates.
Examples of a business event include:
- A group of 20 corporate executives meeting to discuss company strategy.
- The top 50 performing company sales employees travelling as part of a company rewards trip.
- A group of 500 medical professionals meeting to present new studies and conduct educational seminars.
There are four key event client segments within the business event sector:
- corporate companies
- government departments and agencies
- professional conference organisers (PCO)
- and associations.
The event client makes initial decisions on the location of the business event. In some cases, they contract a conference or event organiser, or a venue booking agency to assist with coordination.
Understand the needs of business events clients
Understanding different client needs is critical because it will drive their decision making for destination and venue selection, and the type of products and experiences they include in their event program. For instance:
- Corporations generally pay all the costs associated with the event within one budget and are often looking for an attractive destination, especially if there is an incentive or reward element involved. Unique ideas for team-building activities, for instance, can add real value.
- Government events are usually very business-focused with a tight budget and minimal extra spend. The destination is usually determined by policy or strategy items that relate to that particular location or a local industry/stakeholder group. For example, Department of Planning and Environment (DPIE) may hold their event in a destination where a new infrastructure product is underway.
- A professional conference organiser (PCO), is a company or an individual that specialises in organising and managing professional events such as conferences, seminars and workshops. They are typically hired by corporations, associations, government agencies and other professional groups to organise their event. Their buyer needs will reflect those of the client.
- Association events rely on the overall appeal of the conference program, quality of the speakers, networking functions and desirability of the location for leisure activities to drive registrations, which are essential to the success of the event. Often revenue from association events is vital to the ongoing financial strength of the organisation. For many, their annual conference is their key revenue raiser, so destination appeal and interesting activities and experiences are key.
If you are new to business events, be aware that conference planners and individual delegates have different requirements than from leisure travellers or major public event organisers. Attracting the business events market requires different sales and marketing strategies.
Tailor your venue, product or service offering for business event ‘buyers’ and visitors
Whether you offer meeting venues, accommodation or visitor experiences, it’s important to understand what role you can play and who you should be working with to present your business event destination or activity in the best way possible, to maximise results for your business.
Venue and accommodation providers:
A well-considered request for proposal (RFP) process is important to maximise sales conversion and effectively deliver new business event opportunities. Specific items to consider are outlined on page 28-29 of the Business Events NSW Industry Toolkit.
Consider what you might be able to include in your proposal/quote to add value to the offering, such as:
- Complimentary or discounted value-add items such as Wi-Fi, parking, audio/visual equipment, complimentary networking drinks after the conference, room upgrades for VIP delegates, etc.
- Discounts for event dates during low-season or midweek periods when you have high supply/low demand.
- Offering a special accommodation rate to delegates who wish to extend their stay (pre- or post-event).
- Where possible, provide one dedicated person/contact to oversee the entire event lifecycle from sales to delivery from the property side.
- If your property can’t accommodate the whole event, look at how you can work with other nearby businesses to meet the client’s needs. Creative collaborations can be a great way to win the event and showcase the destination.
Tours, activities and attractions:
Local attractions and experiences that can accommodate business groups, and easily fit into a conference program, will often influence the overall desirability and suitability of an event location. This can also include pre- and post-event touring options for conference delegates.
Develop your offering to include activities beyond the meeting room that may appeal to delegates. For example:
- Offer in-demand experiences such as group activities that involve food and drink, wellness, nature, Aboriginal culture, corporate social responsibility (giving back to local community/charity) and team building are often popular.
- Create experiences to suit a busy event schedule. Event planners can typically organise experiences for their delegates for a limited time only (two to three hours or less).
- Offer exclusive corporate packages. Design and package a corporate/group product offering with clear inclusions, timings and pricing separate to your leisure offering. Event planners will appreciate something that is unique and not always available to the public.
- Local experience providers should develop strong relationships with key contacts in their destination and key meeting facilities or hotel properties as they are likely to be the first port of call for business events decision makers.
Offer sustainable, accessible and inclusive business events
One in five Australians has a disability and ensuring that your venue and or product/service can be accessed and utilised by everyone is essential. Many operators are already committed to delivering accessible products and experiences, and being able to demonstrate this will provide an advantage. Hearing loop technology, accessible rooms and amenities, ramps and elevator access versus stair routes and wayfinding signage for the vision impaired are all important considerations.
Inclusion and diversity are a commitment to reducing barriers and ensuring that everyone can be represented irrespective of identity, community and differences. Consider how you can apply universal principles in your product and service offering. Further information is available at NSW First Quick Tips – Creating Accessible and Inclusive Experiences.
Sustainable practices are a key decision-making factor for clients when choosing a venue or supplier. Investment in upskilling teams, updating processes and procedures and an organisational shift towards sustainable business practices is important. Further information is available via the Destination NSW website – Sustainable Tourism.
Establishing a consistent message and talking about your sustainability efforts on social media, on your website, in marketing materials and with your employees and customers will help you appeal to potential clients.
Promote via distribution channels used by business event organisers
Meet in NSW is a free, dedicated online advertising platform for regional NSW business event venue and suppliers. It delivers more than 50,000 website visits and 7000 leads to industry each year. To create a listing register here.
Ensure your website has a clearly defined section for ‘events’ or similar, with supporting copy and links to your business event packages and pricing. This will:
- Improve your internet search ranking and visibility for those seeking products and services for their business event programs.
- Make it easier for interested parties to identify what you can offer specifically for meetings and groups versus individual leisure travellers.
- Showcase engaging image and video content that shares what you can offer for business events. Ensure you use appropriate talent and messaging. Free content can be accessed and downloaded via the Destination NSW Content Library.
Checklist to help get you started
- Read the NSW Business Events Industry Toolkit for further information.
- Use the NSW First Program’s Develop, Promote, Sell guides to create a new product or refine your existing product with a business events visitor in mind.
- Use the conferencing tools and templates available online to respond to new enquiries.
- Create your listing on Meet in NSW, including business event related images, accurate capacities, video content (if available) and links to the dedicated events section of your website.
- Invest in training and development for sales and operations staff to help secure and deliver successful events and repeat business.
- Build your network with engaged stakeholders within your region and across the business events industry at events and tradeshows.
- NSW Regional Conferencing Tools
- Business Events Sydney
- Business and Corporate Events Australia
- Australian Business Events Association
- Meetings & Events Australia
Business Events Council of Australia, The Value of Business Events to Australia 2013-14