Welcome to Perth: The Conference Sunshine

26th Feb, 2021

Perth's rise in the business events industry has been unstoppable. A delegate favourite, the ‘city of light’ ticks all boxes to conduct an upper-level event. Hence HQ’s interest in finding out what is going on in Western Australia.

Isolated from the rest and facing the Indian Ocean, Perth combines a relaxed atmosphere surrounded by idyllic settings with a booming economy that is fuelling billion-dollar investments in infrastructure projects, business centres and a recent transformation in the hospitality sector. Western Australia’s response to COVID-19 was strong and swift, allowing for a world-leading management of the pandemic. “In April, WA Government closed its border to interstate and international visitors and returning citizens had to apply for an exemption with a necessary quarantine,” says Gareth Martin, CEO of Business Events Perth. Because of the success in managing the spread of the virus, the state was able to ease local gathering restrictions, allowing people to meet again at business events. “By the end of July, Perth had hosted Australia's largest business event since the onset of COVID-19, with 950 delegates,” Martin adds. Given this fortunate position, local venues and suppliers are now well accustomed to hosting events within COVID-safe guidelines. So, tourism is once again bustling in Western Australia, with many regional hotels fully booked out into the new year.

Simultaneously, 2020 also marked a new dawn for the convention bureau with a name change and a series of new campaigns. In August, they launched Event Here Now to provide local event organisers with funding to sustain the industry during the lockdown. This meant that the business development management bent on local MICE. The initiative supported more than 60 local business events with 58 under development, bringing together more than 20,000 delegates to connect and learn from each other. BE Perth also came up with a bespoke "interactive business event planner" (left image), an online planning tool designed to showcase the best of Western Australia’s business events and make events’ planners choose their own adventure. “Our target is to generate a certain level of economic impact for the state,” Martin reveals. “This is broken down into direct delegate expenditure, room nights, delegate days and materialised delegates.”

Regarding safety plans, BE Perth created a COVID-19 microsite to provide event organisers with the most up-to-date COVID-19 information, so that conveners can see the measures taken by venues and suppliers. In November, Western Australia transitioned from a ‘hard’ closed border to a ‘controlled’ open border, allowing interstate visitors from places with no community transmission for 28 days. “Due to the short-lived nature of our shut down, our meeting venues didn’t have to pivot as much as those in other cities,” Martin says... but clearly, they are up to the job. Spaces, such as Perth Convention & Exhibition Centre, are well equipped with cutting edge audiovisual material in order to accommodate hybrid events, in tune with other Australian capitals. “We’re confident that the drive to meet in person will ultimately prevail, as the experience of meeting in person is so much more valuable than that of an online meeting.”

BE Perth also recognises the importance of future-proof policies. They appointed a sustainability adviser to develop a roadmap on how local business events can adopt more green practices. “We were proud to secure the 25th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals in December 2023, that will be entirely carbon neutral,” Martin concludes.

And you? Are you ready for that Quokka selfie?

Read our December 2020 digital edition here

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