High Value of Conferences, Meetings & Business Events
The Business Events Sector – otherwise known as the meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibition sector (MICE) – is generally regarded as one of the highest yielding inbound and domestic tourism segments because of the high per-delegate spend. In 2003, Australia was ranked number one in the Asia Pacific region based on the number of meetings conducted and placed eighth in the world with regard to the number of meetings conducted by the International Conventions & Congress Association (ICCA). Australia is perceived as an exotic and safe destination for business events and there is a widely held expectation that the sector has substantial growth potential. However, Business Events have a much broader impact than on tourism alone.
The direct spend and high per capita value of business meetings have been long established by city-level and individual event economic-impact analyses, but the focus has shifted increasingly to highlight the implications of a strong meetings and conferences performance on a destination’s inward investment, economic development, knowledge creation and dissemination, high-level education for university students, business development opportunities for visiting and local delegates, and the delivery of a wide variety of other industry objectives.
Business meetings are big in their own right, and play an important role in supporting other businesses through:
- Promoting investment, trade, communications, and technology
- Fostering education and professional development to the local community, creating jobs and retaining work forces
- It is a “clean” industry and promotes environmental quality
- Promoting and supporting other business sectors
- Meetings represent the “high end” of visitor spending
- Attracting global expertise
- Create and spreading knowledge world-wide
- Build community profile
- Promoting global understanding and cooperation.
Furthermore, delegates are typically bigger spenders than other visitors, and often on corporate or professional expense allowances. This means they tend to stay in more expensive accommodation and are able to indulge in more costly restaurants and transportation options. But it’s not just about what they spend themselves. Other spending occurs on their behalf – for every delegate there is a host of people organising events, arranging meeting space and buying services to support their participation. There are also exhibitors who show up and spend even more money in order to pitch products and services at those same delegates, and all this spending is directly attributable to those delegates being there in the first place.
However, as attractive as the financial returns are from the meetings business, these are often far outweighed by broader community and economic development benefits. Meetings and conventions essentially take place for the purposes of business, professional and scientific development as well as sharing knowledge and expertise, therefore both the delegates and the events themselves have a lot to offer to the host community. From an economic development perspective, meetings and conventions attract people who are much more likely to be business decision makers – and this can generate not only local business prospects but trade and investment potential as well. Events also have great potential to be exploited as showcases for local products and services, if only because these will get exposure during the course of the events and the related social, educational and entertainment activities that take place around them.
All these factors combine to create a strong and diverse return on investment in the business events sector – and that is precisely what many governments are looking for today as they endeavour to build a more robust local economy in the face of lingering global financial challenges.
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