I love the line in Crocodile Dundee where Paul Hogan talks about a problem and he says to Linda Kozlowski, “I tell Wal and he tells everyone and the problem goes away”
I am sure this story will be controversial for some, but it’s the current reality of the situation playing out and without change will continue to impact the Business Events sector in Australia. So don’t shoot the messenger, I am just telling “Wal” so we can all find answers to the problem so it can go away (hopefully).
And whilst some may find the connection a stretch of the circumstances as they are not specifically the same, to quote another famous saying with a Asian connection the base story that follows is “the same, same but different ”
We can choose to ignore the scenarios playing out below but solving any problem is about tabling it and working to a solution, so we need to keep talking about it to everyone and find new solutions. As I have raised previously; let’s hope those who line up for credit when little wins are announced on the East Coast can dig deeper and realise we can’t give up and we need the whole country to get the “win” and work with WA in particular.
Whilst we can’t have a direct influence on China, maybe the Federal Government needs to work on establishing new supply lines from other countries, or at least recognise the overseas supply issues and incentivise manufacturing or find new supply countries… there is probably a new trade show in that!
WA business events bounce-back in further question?
With Friday’s announcement from Premier McGowan stating the border will not open to the rest of the country until they achieve 90% vaccine of their population, which he said will hopefully be around late January early February. Whilst I note some posts from WA business events on Friday saying they are back in business in the New Year, I hate to burst the spin and be the bearer of the reality news.
From talking to businesses of all kinds in WA, what seems to have been lost is the lack of trust and confidence in our sector and the challenge we currently have convincing businesses to book into WA events. And it seems the media exposure the East Coast receives isn’t shown in WA, so some are not aware of the damage rolling out, while in some cases the locals are ignoring the impact the Premier’s actions have had. It has also become clear, despite the rhetoric, that WA have remained pretty much open and unaffected by the rest of the country. However the true impact for Business Events and tourism in particular in WA really does highlight the need for them to be part of the rest of Australia as they cannot sustain operations without interstate commitments.
It is either a case of sheer stubbornness of the premier or as some media have titled him “Emperor McGowan”, that maybe he really thinks he is in control of his own kingdom!
Recently, depending on which state you are based in, you may have seen news coverage of the Premier saying that the WA borders are likely to be closed until April/May and possibly June and then within two weeks he has backflipped to now saying late January early February! This isn’t helping the sales case for WA.
Unfortunately the elephant in the room that isn’t going away quickly comes down to the one word that is the biggest focus of our industry, confidence.
And it works both ways; WA companies desperate to travel to the East Coast are being restricted as much as businesses wanting to travel from the East to the West.
In the last month numerous annual events have cancelled their bookings in Perth including the Oil & Gas conference and expo, and a major craft show, to name just a couple. Admittedly there are some bookings in the first six months of 2022 but based on the uncertainty of a definite date around borders, along with customer confidence from the East Coast, it’s clear the WA Premier totally underestimates the uncertainty he is placing on the return of business events.
The other concern not yet fully understood is what may change in comparing costs around freight, flights and accommodation when interstate events were last run back to 2019. One example is the increases in diesel costs which will increase freight by a minimum of double digits in most states, so image the flow on to WA.
So it begs the question, why can’t the WA Premier back himself and set a date, even if it is late January, so all businesses outside mining can be saved and have something to work to. Queensland has proved what setting reopening dates does for industry confidence?
As an industry we have repeatedly stated we are a national sector and therefore we want to celebrate the reconnection by having all states involved and being ready to resume from January 1 2022 and not some date dictated by a vaccine figure that cannot be fixed. Events need time for planning and the risks in the first half of next year are now too high and I sincerely feel for the centres, suppliers and many staff and businesses dependant on interstate business.
It is an interesting comparison – whilst Qld had taken a similar position to WA previously, they at least have set a firm date so everyone can plan with certainty. Queenslanders are on notice to get their vaccine levels up because they are opening up on the 17th December whether its reached or not. This caters for everyone, it allows tourism and events to plan with confidence and let’s those dragging the chain risk their own health exposure if they choose not to act.
By now WA should have heard the whole of the East Coast will be open no later than the 17th of December, so Emperor if you are really invested in your state, save them.
And a last thought for him if he still is unsure, every event that now skips 2022 will make it four years of not being in the market and coming back in 2023 will be a huge challenge and a huge sell, so I hope the mining taxes have been good, as many will need a huge incentive payment.
The China Affect
China’s current position is having a two pronged impact on the Australian Business Events and is both a negative and a positive.
Looking at the negative first – supply of new or replacement products and stock are running between three to six months behind, along with an increase in freight costs from a low of 100% up to 500% which is forcing companies to reset where they import from and what they buy as whole seasons are now being missed. The extent of the China supply effect is yet to be fully realised, but already customers are raising the lack of new products and ongoing supply of products as a reason not to book space in expos early in 2022.
China has also currently said their borders will remain closed to the rest of the world until potentially the end of 2022. This too will impact buying for so many businesses that depend on attending trade events in China, including Hong Kong trade fairs.
With every negative there is a positive and this means a number of more “infrequent” buyers that go to China from time to time will now need to default to local Australian companies to ensure delivery and this gives B2B shows in 2022 a real opportunity and leg up.
What’s in common between WA and China?
- Uncertainty for moving forward
- Borders reopening, vague no specific date
- Increased costs linked to opening
- Selfish leadership ahead of the people
- Rules for opening out of step with everyone else
- Disconnect to same country and other countries
- Businesses will search for new solutions and be less dependent on past agreements
Whilst we can’t influence other countries, surely by now we should be able to influence our own country and I would call on the WA Premier to take the next step and set a specific date and stop being vague as this is the best way to shore up Business Events in WA and start the rebuilding. As for China, hopefully new supply chains can be found or better still manufacturing will return to Australia, and that is a win win.