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An In-Depth Analysis of Operation Status and Strategy for Overseas Convention Bureaus That Are Rapidly Rising Lately 2. Sydney

As convention industry goes from the competition among individual companies to that among networks, we witness the growing role of convention bureaus which operate with various stakeholder of the convention industry as its members. Accordingly, major convention cities are intensifying their investment in the organization, manpower, and budget for their convention bureaus, and some convention bureaus are rising in this novel trend. They are Choose Chicago, a city marketing agency for Chicago that has been reborn as a powerful organization by combining two agencies lately, Tourism Montreal, Montreal’s tourism & convention organization that boasts a history of about a hundred years, and BESydney, Sydney’s convention agency that induces continuous government investment with the greatest ever performance.
In this article, we take an in-depth look at the operation status of these overseas convention bureaus, which are focusing on strengthening their abilities to create demand. We hope that this will start discussion designed to strengthen the competitiveness of the domestic convention bureau, which has insufficient resources available compared to advanced overseas counterparts, such as organization, manpower, and budget. It is because one cannot expect sustainable growth for Korea’s convention industry without beefing up the competitiveness of the domestic convention industry, while the entire world is increasing investment for strengthening the capability of the convention industry.

2. Sydney
As an eastern port city of Australia, Sydney enjoyed a boom for its business event industry for 2012 and 2013. In 2012, Sydney ranked in 24th on the ranking for international convention cities compiled by International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), rising 10 levels from the previous year, and was ranked 6th in Asia Pacific. Also in the same period, Sydney held 86 events, thus creating economic benefits worth 175.5 million dollars and succeeding in hosting 73 international events. In combination with such performance, the government subsidy increased and recruited new people and companies as its members. And the success had in the background the cooperation and efforts of the government, the industry, strategic partners, and member companies, which were led by Business Events Sydney (BESydney), Sydney’s agency dedicated to conventions.

Operation Status: a professional organization that handles bidding, planning, and support

BESydney is an urban convention bureau that promotes Sydney and New South Wales (NSW) as a venue for international events and secures new event opportunities. Created in 1969 as Sydney Convention and Visitors Bureau (SCVB), the bureau continued to amass experience in services related to the hosting of international events for over 40 years, and changing its name on Sep. 1, 2008 to Business Events Sydney, kept on with its operation. BESydney conducts the following major operations.

  • Bidding for conferences, events, and conventions: presenting bidding strategies suited to different conferences, exploring bidding and event funding, supervising event organizers’ on-site visits, marketing and media support following a successful bidding, supporting selection of PCO (Professional Convention Organizers).
  • Planning conferences, events, and conventions: promoting media events, supporting marketing activities, supporting selection of PCO, and guidance to event planning.
  • Supporting major events: providing lists of appropriate facilities, suppliers, catering, entertainers, equipment, and transporters, securing quotes from all facilities and suppliers, preparing and submitting proposals, and providing on-site visits to all candidate facilities.

Operating organization composed of 45 persons in 5 teams
The operating organization for BESydney has five teams of Management, Strategic Marketing & Communication, Project Development, Event Support, and Corporate Service & Strategy. Of these, Strategic Marketing & Communication Team is composed of the three subordinate teams of Marketing, Strategic Partner, and Bidding, and these teams are performing crucial duties for developing strategic relationships such as seeking bidding opportunities and providing creative bidding proposals. Also, Project Development Team includes Sales Research Team and works to discover potential events for Sydney and NSW, while Event Support Team provides economic support and actively cooperates with strategic partners and customers to ensure successful implementation of hosted events. In addition, Corporate Service & Strategy Team handles human resources management, financial management, data management, and IT inside BESydney.

BESydney operates on investment and sponsorship from its member companies, which are organized with various public organizations or private companies. The 2013 operating revenue for BESydney was 9.74 million dollars, of which the investment from the NSW state government was 7.73 million dollars (79.4%) and membership fees and sponsorship from its member companies totalled 1.37 million dollars (14.1%). Its 2013 operating revenue was 9.74 million dollars (10.3 billion won), which was up 22% from 7.59 million dollars of 2012 (8 billion won). 4.84 million dollars (5.1 billion won) was used as employee welfare expenses and 400,000 dollars (400 million won) was spent in facilities.

Sales & Marketing Strategy: strategic partnership and Ambassadors program

① Creating sales and marketing system based on strategic partnership

Creating wide cooperative network with various organizations
BESydney has created a broad cooperative network. In 2012, BESydney selected “expanding strategic partnership” as its main goal and has since focused on it. In september 2012, BESydney appointed Natalie Young as manager handling ‘member company account’ and in March 2013, it tapped Ana Judge as its general manager for ‘strategic partnership’, thus further reinforcing its portfolio for managing member companies. The investment that strategic partners and members made in BESydeny between 2012 and 2013 amounted to about 1.5 million dollars (1.59 billion won), which was up 12% from 1.34 million years of the previous year. Meanwhile, 93% of all the strategic partners are expected to serve as steady sponsors for BESydney.

BESydney’s member companies coming from various organizations
BESydney members include various organizations encompassing government agencies, lodging, facilities, PCO, and suppliers. Principal actors include NSW state government, Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, and Association of Australian Convention Bureaux. In 2012 Hotel Accor, an erstwhile financial supporter of the Bureau joined in as a strategic partner and in December of the same year, City of Sydney signed up and decided to invest 500,000 dollars each year from 2013 through 2016, thus further expanding the network.

New membership split in two grades
Recently, BESydney simplified its existing membership structure in order to specify benefits for member companies and induce participation from a greater variety of sectors. New membership is classified into two types. First of all, BESydney Strategic Partner enjoys services customized to its business goal. Investment fund is specified to be minimum 26,300 Australian dollars (or KRW26,072,505), and a partner is entitled to services such as creation of proposals, on-site visits, linkage of customer and media. Meanwhile, BESydney Member is entitled to an opportunity to participate in customer networking events, an opportunity to participate in updates on international markets, and international exposure of the brand through its publication on online search lists of suppliers and in event planner guides for Sydney and state of NSW. And the amount of an investment must be minimum 2,700 Australian dollars (or KRW2,676,645).

② Ambassador and Future Leaders Programs

Ambassador Program organized with influential experts in various areas
Officially started in 2009, Ambassador Program of BESydney has conducted its strategic marketing by using celebrities and professionals in various industrial sectors such as medicine, research, technology, arts and culture, engineering, and science. The program awards the title of an ambassador to those passionate leaders who are influential specialists in different areas and want to contribute to the development of the economy of Sydney and state of NSW and is aggressively conducting marketing capitalizing on their influence.

Strong encouragement for the activities of Ambassadors and Future Leaders
Each year, BESydney recognizes with congratulations the major contribution of the Ambassador network by holding annual dinner and award ceremony. For this year, it was held at Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre on May 13, 2013, which introduced 20 new Ambassadors and Future Leaders, thus putting total 79 Ambassadors and 8 Future Leaders in service. They included Andrew Stoner, Deputy Premier for the state of New South Wales. Appointed Ambassador for BESydney in May 2012, Andrew Stoner recognizes expressed his commitment to active engagement by saying, “The NSW state government recognizes the influence that business event industry exercises on Sydney and the regional economy of the state. By exploiting the talents of the leaders who represent the major industries of the country, we can work with them to achieve innovation, competitiveness, and leadership peculiar to NSW on the international scene.“ Looking ahead, the BESydney Ambassador program will be further expanded in accordance with the NSW economic development plan, which was announced in late 2012 by the NSW state government. The state government decided to expand the Ambassador network in accordance with the trend of the state’s prioritized industries and international market and provide financial support and cooperation. Accordingly, NSW Trade and Investment and BESydeny are going to make concerted efforts through their partnership.

Creating an economic value of 113.1 million dollars through hosting 73 events
Between 2012 and 2013, Sydney and the state of NSW hosted 73 events, which are expected to attract 33,908 participants to Sydney and create an economic value of 113.1 million dollars. 35 of these are association events and 38 of them are corporate events. The same period held total 86 events and attracted 54,143 participants, thus creating a economic effect of 175.5 million dollars. 48 of these were association events and 38 of them were corporate events, showing the former taking up the larger portion than the latter. Currently, BESydney is aggressively pioneering overseas markets through its six branches in Sydney and others in Europe, the Americas, Singapore, and China.

Specialized Services & Programs: securing subsidy, joining global federation, and creating new infrastructure

① Inducing continuous government investment

Inducing expansion of subsidy through steadily creating outcome
The state government continuously provides financial support through Destination NSW (DNSW) and Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority (SHFA). Also, Deputy Premier of the State of New South Wales is serving as a BESydney Ambassador, supervising the Darling Harbour redevelopment project. To elicit such high level of government participation, BEsydney has worked hard to achieve great performance and deliver it effectively.

Inducing government investment through own research
By taking advantage of “Beyond Tourism Benefits: the Social Legacy of Business Events” as an outcome of its own research conducted in 2011, BESydney continuously worked to explain how business event industry could contribute to achieving “2021 Goal: a Plan for New South Wales as No. 1” and induce government investment. According to NSW 2021 Plan, the state government submitted data that showed how business event industry could contribute to developing such an industrial sector in Sydney and fulfilling government goals. As a result, the state government decided to expand BESydney Ambassador program that can be connected to its major industries and promised to cooperate actively with BESydney.

Global Talent Hub Initiative
Moreover, BESydney and the state government are cooperating for Global Talent Hub Initiative. The project, in which Committee for Sydney and various corporate partners are participating, consists in analyzing if Sydney, among so many advanced cities, can obtain and maintain excellent talents continuously. Global Talent Hub Initiative is going to support new research projects that can provide a better understanding of the global positioning of Sydney and a decision to take it as a destination.

② Creating a basis for growth in global research cooperation through affiliation with FCCI

Created in 2011, Future Convention Cities Initiative (FCCI) is a research cooperation organization that major world cities united to make in order to speed up the strategic development of business event industry. As founding members, seven cities participated and they are Abu Dhabi, Sydney, Durban, London, Seoul, and Toronto, which are dubbed the new generation in the convention market. Taking the cue from the fact that the global business event market is no longer centered in Europe or America, FCCI formed with member cities from Asia and Middle East.

BESydney is a founding member of FCCI, and notably, Lyn Lewis-Smith, who is BESydney’s CEO, was tapped as its first chairperson and is leading the organization. FCCI has three goals: first, to ensure that its member cities share their experience and professionalism; second, to ensure that its member cities become more competitive than other cities; and third, to lead the other cities by tapping into such competitiveness. Thus, FCCI focuses on cooperation in taking advantage of latest technology, innovation, and research with a view to improving the economic effects of business events in cities and industries.

③ ICC Sydney to be completed in 2016

BESydney looks forward to the completion of International Convention Centre Sydney (ICC Sydney) in 2016. The newly constructed ICC Sydney will house specialized convention facilities that can accommodate 2,500, 1,000, or 750 participants each, and the Centre is expected to accommodate minimum 12,000 participants, provided the 8,000-seat entertainment facility is taken into account. ICC Sydney is already basking in hot attention from the global market. Having participated last year in AIME held in Melbourne and IMEX held in Frankfurt, ICC Sydney has taken center stage while basking in hot attention from various media outlets and the industry. Even before the completion of the facilities, it succeeded in hosting five international events that would create an economic effect of minimum 30 million dollars. Looking ahead, BESydney will focus on establishing Sydney as the representative global city of Australia and a financial hub for the Asia Pacific, based on its excellent infrastructure.

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