The Business Events Council of Australia (BECA) began in 1994 to bring the business events industry and community together as a whole and communicate with one voice. The purpose was to foster the development of the industry as a united entity and raise profile of business events to government and business community. This has remained the focus and has provided unity to the message.
The business and association events market is one area of Australia’s visitor economy which is actually growing. According to TRA (2011), the total expenditure generated in 2010 by international, domestic overnight and domestic day business events attendees was $8.5 billion, which was 7% above the result in 2009. Expenditure in Australia of international business events attendees grew by 16% in 2010 over 2009 and expenditure by domestic overnight business events attendees increased by 5%.
Business travel is also a growing area with the latest statistics from Tourism Research Australia show business travel was up six per cent to almost 14 million trips, with nights up four per cent and expenditure up seven per cent to $7.7 billion. Whilst this industry is growing the leisure tourism market is seeing a slow down with a drop of 4% in 2011 against 2010 arrivals figures. Convention arrivals are also showing strong growth with figures for October and November above those of the prior three years.
So as the industry strengthens there has also been change at the BECA table with a new Executive Manager and Chair. Inge Garofani, an industry professional for over 20 years, has been the Executive Manager at BECA for the last six months and during this time she has been considering how BECA can best deliver the outcomes needed. “Business and association meetings and events are an undervalued contributor to the economy and community in Australia. They provide not only the tangible benefits of room nights and delegate spend but a far greater contribution to the nation. They have a ripple effect like a stone in a pond where the initial impact is small and defined but the real impact is in the ripples flowing outwards. These ripples are where we provide the greatest benefit to Australia. We bring international experts to Australia to share knowledge, educate our community and this leads to great legacies and benefits both financial and non-financial.”
Inge has been joined by a new Chair, Jon Hutchison AM, former Managing Director of Tourism Australia and most recently Chief Executive of Business Events Sydney. Jon has long supported the business and association events industry to deliver for Australia. He advocates the beyond tourism benefits our industry brings:
“The greatest contribution Corporate and Association events can make is to help build Australia’s productivity levels, which are currently low by world standards. This happens through bringing great people here to share innovative ideas, help us to improve our education standards, and to establish Global networks for trade and investment. It is strong message BECA will take to Government to demonstrate a need for them to take notice, and participate more readily “he said.
With new faces in the mix there has been an opportunity to redefine and refocus and BECA has spent some time over the last six months to reflect on what they have achieved and where they want to head. This culminated in a full day strategic planning session. All members came together to discuss what business events really means and how they impact on the economy and society. BECA believes the real value of the industry is in the beyond tourism benefits. However BECA is realistic in the fact that the benefits are not being recognised by the wider community and government.
BECA is now gathering intelligence and evidence to demonstrate this value and to show how the industry has a direct impact on the goals of government. Using case studies, data and evidence surrounding specific government and community goals BECA will build a picture of the real impact of business and association events.
Government agendas and policy focuses shift but the constant is that business events deliver outcomes. BECA will be engaging the industry and community in their discussions and plans looks forward to ensuring this collaborative process delivers results.