Business events may not be “sexy” but they are increasingly critical for the visitor economy, Melbourne Convention Bureau boss Karen Bolinger has declared at the official opening of Business Events Week.
The MCB initiative is a week-long program of activities designed to highlight the value of business events to Australia. It commenced on Monday with the unveiling of a new piece of research which demonstrated the growing value of international conferences.
The Melbourne Convention Delegate Study 2013 showed the economic impact of the sector has “significantly” increased with international conference delegates now spending $1019 per day – more than twice as much as a typical international leisure tourist. The figure represents a 28% increase on the 2010 average spend.
“Much of this spend is going straight into Victoria’s small to medium businesses and delivering business into the tourism sector in traditionally off-peak periods,” Bolinger said.
“The spending habits of international conference delegates make business events one of the highest yielding sectors in Australia’s visitor economy.”
Attracting visitors to Australia that may not have otherwise planned a trip is another benefit of the sector. Almost three quarters of the delegates were visiting Australia for the first time, with more than half revealing that they visited regional Victoria and/or other parts of Australia before or after the conference – up 26% on the 2010 study.
Over a quarter of delegates were accompanied on their trip to Australia, with the average number of companions standing at 2.8 per delegate.
The study also found that 49% of all international delegates come from Asia – an 11% increase on the 2010 figure.
Of the respondents, 76% said they would return to Melbourne, with 95% saying they would recommend the city as a destination to their friends and family.
Yet, despite its clear contribution, the sector’s achievements often go unrecognised.
“The value of major international conferences is often overshadowed in the media by sexier consumer-focused events such as the Australian Open and the Australian Grand Prix yet they provide the same, if not more, economic benefit,” Bolinger said.
“While international business events may not be sexy, they are critical for progressing a variety of industries and fostering innovation.”
Melbourne’s status as a “knowledge centre” is part of the city’s appeal for both international congress organisers and the delegates themselves, convinced into attending the conference because of the quality of the program, the study revealed.
They, in turn, bring their own knowledge and experience to Australia, allowing for a valuable exchange of ideas which has the potential to benefit humanity, according to Business Events Week ambassador Professor Ian Chubb.
“At the core of it all is knowledge,” he said. “Without discovering new things, all we’ll do is tinker at the margins of the same. So it’s critically important that we find mechanisms with which we can draw people together, set them free, get them thinking, and then use that to make the lot of humanity a lot better than it is today.”
Check out the below infographic showing the key findings of the Melbourne Convention Delegate Study 2013: