“Business events offer more to our destinations, economies and global community than tourism dollars alone”
Australia’s leading convention bureau, Business Events Sydney (BESydney), has released the second phase of its Beyond Tourism Benefits: Measuring the social legacies of business events research, which quantitatively examines the extensive social, innovation and knowledge benefits of business events.
Lyn Lewis-Smith, Acting Chief Executive Officer of BESydney comments, “Our industry has long struggled to measure the important legacy effects of hosting conferences and conventions. This research is a huge step in the right direction: we believe this is the first quantitative research examining this subject.”
The Beyond Tourism Benefits research, undertaken by the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) on behalf of BESydney, demonstrates that the international norm to evaluate the lucrative business events sector in tourism terms alone overlooks perhaps the most valuable legacies – the many educational, intellectual, trade and investment outcomes from business events.
“If we don’t measure the multiple, long-term benefits, such as the ability to increase professional knowledge, improve local education offerings and career opportunities, disseminate the latest technical practices and forge international networking, research and business collaborations, we are undervaluing our industry.
“The research highlights that business events offer much more to our destinations, economies and global community than tourism dollars alone: they are a key driver in knowledge economies,” Lewis-Smith concludes.
The key outcome of the research was an innovative framework developed to classify and understand the diverse and valuable benefits outside of the tourism sector. Five broad legacy categories – social, intrinsic, practice, economic and attitudinal – comprise the framework and relate to benefits delivered to delegates, sponsors and exhibitors, professional bodies, the host destination and even the wider community.
The lifeblood of any business event, delegates are the benefactors of a large number of the legacies identified. Over 90% of delegates surveyed believe that congresses have facilitated the dissemination of new knowledge, ideas, techniques, materials and technologies and 85% indicate that they have applied these new insights to their professional practice.
Collaboration is a key outcome from the shared social interactions created at business events – 95% of respondents agreed business events fostered networking that led to the sharing of knowledge and ideas, whilst almost 60% agreed events either acted as a catalyst for research collaboration (58%) or resulted in business relationships (57%).
Professor Roy Green, Dean of the UTS Business School and BESydney Ambassador agrees business events provide essential opportunities for collaboration.
“In a knowledge economy, education and innovation are principal drivers of productivity and prosperity. And innovation is driven by collaboration, not silos. Innovation requires the exchange of ideas, skills and passion. Business events provide opportunities to network and collaborate locally and globally.”
The Beyond Tourism Benefits research also found that legacies extended to sponsors and exhibitors. Those surveyed reported an important economic legacy, with 90% confirming they gained product exposure and awareness, and also obtained leads for further business. Although, not applicable to the whole sample, one respondent indicated that they had benefited from investment worth more than $10 million as a result of exhibiting at a business event.
And at a time when the education and training of the young workforce is so topical, the research revealed that business events equip the destination’s workforce with skills and knowledge and foster global networks and collaborative projects to drive innovation. 82% agreed that the events exposed local delegates to cutting edge research and the world’s best practice and 76% agreed the capacity of the professional sector was enhanced post-event.
From a destination’s perspective, the host city (for this research, Sydney) was shown to also benefit from a wide range of valuable legacies. Sydney’s reputation for driving social change and action was enhanced (52% agree) and the business events increased the attractiveness of the local education sector for delegates from outside of Sydney (60% agree).
Sydney also received a positive wrap, as a conference destination. The majority of respondents (87%) agreed that the conference destination was suitable for hosting global, world-class business events, congresses and meetings.
Lyn Lewis-Smith confirms, “The time is right to harness the potential of the global business events industry.”
“We will continue to champion a broader and deeper evaluation of the impact of business events.”
The next stage of this research will be global. The Future Convention Cities Initiative (FCCI) has also selected UTS to conduct similar studies across some of its seven member cities (San Francisco, London, Abu Dhabi, Seoul, Sydney, Durban and Toronto).
The full Beyond Tourism Benefits: measuring the social legacies of business events report can be accessed here