International Association of Convention Centers’ (AIPC) senior executive delivered the industry message at the highest level of the Australian government last week as President Geoff Donaghy and Vice President Aloysius Arlando presented to the Leadership 2015: Tourism, Aviation & Transport Summit, which is an annual dialogue with senior representatives of both the Federal Government and Opposition that takes place at Parliament House in Canberra Australia. This was the first time that business events industry representatives have been included in the program as a distinct sector via a panel session incorporating convention centres operators.
“As this was one of the first chances we have had to present the Business Events story to such a senior political audience, we took full advantage of that opportunity”, said Donaghy, who is CEO of the ICC Sydney as well as AIPC President. “Sharing this platform with my AIPC Vice President and colleague from Singapore provided a further ability to position this sector in the broadest international context, enabling us to underline the important international trade and knowledge exchange implications of the work we do as an industry”.
Panel discussions focused on the ways that Business Events are a major economic driver for the economy, reaching well beyond immediate tourism benefits such as delegate and event expenditures and venue utilisation to broader and more enduring gains including driving business relationships, knowledge transfer, professional development and industry investment. As a specific example, it was cited that ICC Sydney will play a pivotal role in boosting returns for Sydney and the State, including an expected $5 billion dollars in incremental economic benefit to New South Wales over the next 25 years.
Arlando, who is CEO of Singex Venues Pte Ltd., referenced the situation in Singapore, which has enjoyed significant growth in Business Events over the past decade, and noted that convention centres represent a highly complementary interface between the tourism and knowledge economies. “These two sectors are not in competition, but rather synergistic when properly managed, measured and driven. They generate a wide range of benefits and can and must support one another in today’s highly competitive market if the destination is to enjoy overall success, and governments that understand this have a big advantage over their competition”.
Both executives agreed on the critical importance of government understanding and support for the sector in order to optimize the resulting benefits. “It’s only when governments see the full package of benefits arising from business events that they are prepared to invest accordingly, and it’s our job as an industry to make sure that happens”, said Donaghy. Arlando noted that a strategic approach is the best route to getting government attention. “We target events in key industries and reach deep into these verticals by working closely with government agencies, companies, academia, trade and professional bodies to attract these to our centre”, he said. “This clearly demonstrates just what we can do in supporting specific economic areas that are key to government priorities”.
In attendance were a range of senior industry and government attendees, many of whom were hearing the sector-specific arguments for the first time. “As long as we can access this kind of key audience, we will make every effort to share our message in the interests of a better understanding going forward”, said Donaghy.