What is the economic benefit to Australia of business events?
$35.7 billion per annum!
Research commissioned by the Business Events Council of Australia was conducted by the global research firm EY. The report was first published in 2015 and demonstrated that business events are a major economic driver for the Australian economy. The current approach to valuing these benefits however was focused on immediate tourism spending of delegates, event expenditure and venue utilisation. This focus on short term impacts masks the wider and more enduring benefits of business events associated with support for infrastructure development, business relationships, knowledge transfer and industry investment.
Based on general industry growth assumptions, updated research demonstrates that the value of the business events industry has grown by 30% since FY14, directly contributing $35.7 billion to the Australian economy in FY19.
On a number of measures, business events is the tourism industry's highest yielding sector given the level of expenditure (per day) of event delegates with 43.7 million delegates attending a business event in Australia in FY19.
International v domestic business events in Australia
In 2003 a combined effort of BECA members and Australia's Co-operative Research Centre for Sustainable Tourism produced the most comprehensive study ever undertaken into the business events sector in Australia.
The National Business Events Study (NBES) broke business events into domestic and international components and considred the ecnoomic benefit of each market. Domestic events were refered to domestically run business activities with local and interstate delegates.
Although the domestic market is crucial to the success of the business events sector, BECA's position is that Australia's domestic sector is relatively static with limited potential for growth due to a small population size. Australian business events service providers will only continue to share the same market - they will take market share from one another but will not participate in any domestic market growth.
Thus, the real growth prospects lie in the international business events sector. This has the potential to create additional export dollars.
BECA advocates that priority be given to developing and promoting Australia as an international business events destination. The increase in international business events will provide high yield to local businesses and establish Australia as the destination of choice for business travellers and event organisers.
Intangible contribution by the business events sector
As well as the significant expenditure and economic contribution made by the BE sector, business events also bring in significant indirect and intangible benefits to attendees and the host city or country.
Networking: Business events are essentially communication mediums - a place for delegates to network and enhance business relationships. As previously discussed, this opportunity to network is one of the main motives of why a delegate chooses to attend an event.
Education: The majority of international BE offer an education program, affording Australian delegates the opportunity to gain exposure to international learning in their own country and also to profile themselves before their international peers.
Trade: Many international BE include trade exhibitions and commercial sponsorships, which offer Australians trade exposure to the international market on their own territory. Study tours and satellite meetings offer the opportunity to showcase Australia's products and services pertinent to the specific host area.
Research: International scientific and professional meetings are prime drivers in exposing original research to the marketplace.
Leverage: Business events provide an ideal forum for leveraging existing exports such as mining, medicine, technology.
Funds: International meetings often provide Australian host not-for-profit organisations with an opportunity to raise funds which in turn allows them to improve delivery of services to their Australian members.
Prestige: Hosting a meeting in Australia in a specific trade, profession, or industry, allows that sector the chance to lift its profile in the international market, just as a meeting like APEC is a prestigious event for the Australian government. Intangible benefits flow from the dynamics of having the best in their field on Australian soil.
A "showcase opportunity": Business events provide an opportunity for the hosting country to showcase its infrastructure, innovation and quality of service. To the meeting organiser, suitability of the venue is a top priority and success will largely depend on the facilities and attraction of the location. Success of one event often leads to testimonials and word of mouth publicity within the market and more international events as a result.
Benefits to the leisure tourism sector: Leisure tourism is often a by-product of business events. That is, international business conventions can substantially raise the profile of a city and country and lead to prosperous tourism growth.
Regional dispersal: almost half of international delegates take a pre or post event trip, and a quarter are known to bring accompanying persons. Dispersal throughout the country also occurs with satellite meetings, study tours, pre and post courses, in locations other than the main event destination. Cairns is a leading example of the potential of second tier regional centres to attract international events. The 2005 ICCA statistics show Cairns in 3rd position in Australia after Sydney and Melbourne.