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Convening in Australia: destinations for international associations

3 min read

A new marketing initiative sees the business events industry committing $1.8 million to assist in this endeavour.

Julie Sheather, the initiative’s manager, says that the initiative exists in recognition of the fact that congresses present a major opportunity for association members to meet face-to-face, discuss initiatives of mutual benefit, and plan for the future. However she acknowledges the commitment and resources required to hold such events can often be daunting.

“One of the greatest fears that associations face when deciding to host major international events is that insufficient delegates will attend to make the event profitable,” she says.

“Many associations have limited resources, however a compelling program and an appealing destination can overcome that perceived barrier – and that’s where we can help.”

Sheather said that the details of the tools, materials and types of support available are still being developed, but will include:

  • Developing a united whole-of-country approach to support associations in sectors aligned to the Australian Government’s innovation agenda
  • International marketing and communications campaigns to raise awareness of Australia’s strengths as both an appealing destination and a centre of innovation
  • Support for associations bidding for international events
  • Delegate-boosting activities.

Sheather reflects on examples of how Australian arms of associations can work together with the business events industry, to hold successful events that both benefit Australia and assist in the growth and development of the association.

Case study 1 – Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is a leading global professional association for the advancement of technology. Worldwide, IEEE has more than 375,000 members in more than 160 countries, and Australia holds the 7th largest number of these.

The International Symposium on Circuits and Systems, staged by IEEE each year, regularly attracts over
1,000 international delegates. It is one of the world’s premier networking forums of leading researchers and also allows members to showcase their own work.

Recognising this, the Victorian IEEE chapter joined with the Melbourne Convention and Visitors Bureau to prepare a successful bid to host the event in 2014.

The benefits of hosting the congress in Australia are numerous:

  • The association’s membership will benefit from new ideas and networking
  • The event will attract leading researchers from around the world and will help cement Australia’s reputation for innovation in this field
  • More than $4 million will be injected into the Australian economy.

Case study 2 – Paediatric Cardiology Working Group of the Cardiac Society

The success of the 5th World Congress of Paediatric Cardiology and Cardiac Surgery in Cairns last year is proof that a compelling program and an appealing destination can lead to a successful and popular event.

The Paediatric Cardiology Working Group of the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand consists of seven partners, and the Congress attracted 2,290 delegates from 81 countries.

Though organising an event of this magnitude was a challenge, event organiser Professor Jim Wilkinson said that the destination was a significant factor in the event’s success.

“Cairns, which is one of the most popular destinations in Australia, was a major drawcard for our international colleagues.”

Case study 3 – 93rd Annual Lions International Convention

The annual Lions International Convention, staged at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre and surrounding Darling Harbour precinct in July 2010, was one of the biggest association events ever held in Australia, and was only the second time since 1917 that the convention had been held in the southern hemisphere.

The five-day business meeting attracted over 13,000 delegates plus partners, and included entertainment showcasing Australian culture, as well as workshops and plenary sessions.

The association was motivated by the opportunity to learn about the work of others, to showcase what was happening in Australia, and to make personal connections with international leaders.

The Australian Lions Convention Committee worked closely with Business Events Sydney, and the success of the event proved that Australian associations can access the expertise of convention bureaux and centres to help bring all people, transport, security and government resources together to deliver stunning events.

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