5 minutes with an expert on the Chinese incentive market

CIM spoke with Lara Burnes, general manager premier events & experiences at Melbourne & Olympic Parks (M&OP), about their strategy to tap into the growing incentive market out of China.

Does the Chinese incentive market still have a long way to travel? China is still an emerging market. As the country continues on its journey to being one of the most powerful nations in the world, the way China travels will evolve.

In tourism particularly, we’ve seen Chinese outbound business travel represent over a third of all Chinese outbound travel spent, with no signs of slowing down. It’s a very exciting time for China, and it’s influence in Australia’s business events industry is one to watch.

How has the rise of tennis in China changed the Chinese incentives market in Australia? This really gained momentum after Chinese tennis legend, Li Na won the Australian Open in 2014. The win placed her in her career-high ranking of world number two, and really exposed China to the game of tennis.

Since then, China’s love for the sport has only grown, with recent figures from Tennis Australia revealing that there are now over 330 million tennis fans across the country today. This has led to a spike in interest in Melbourne as a destination, as well as Melbourne & Olympic Parks as a key business events hot spot.

As the Australian Open is the Asia Pacific’s Grand Slam, this also encourages repeat visitors to attend the annual event. Across the Chinese incentives market, when they visit they are particularly interested in our precinct to experience the activities, tours and see the home of the Australian Open.

What is the importance of high level branding opportunities that can be shared on social media? At Melbourne & Olympic Parks, we always consider what the opportunity is for our activity and experiences to be shared on social media. The Chinese incentives market in particular share an incredible amount of photos and videos when travelling.

We actually have a show court sponsored by premium Chinese whiskey brand 1573, which is something that engages a lot of interest from the Chinese market. For them to see a brand from back home come to life in Australia, it draws huge engagement on social media.

What is the importance of hosting Chinese buyers at Melbourne & Olympic Parks or representing the precinct at an Australian Roadshow? It’s difficult to sell something without experiencing it, particularly something that lives so fundamentally in the real world, such as an event space.

When physically hosting at a venue isn’t an option, we make sure at trade shows we can clearly guide delegates on a journey that represents our venue experiences.

An example of this is our newest venue, CENTREPIECE at Melbourne Park, which is scheduled for completion in 2021. When showcasing to Chinese delegates, we guide them through each element of what makes a marvellous event moment. This means showcasing the unique design space, venue flexibility and the dining experience that highlights locally sourced and seasonal produce.

It’s also important for our team to build strong relationships with Chinese agents, buyers and exhibitors. When doing any business with the Chinese market, it’s fundamentally based on meaningful relationships. Once you’ve earned their trust, you’ve earned their business.

Why is Melbourne & Olympic Parks as a whole venue package important? At Melbourne & Olympic Parks, you’re not just showcasing an event space and experience, but also representing Melbourne and Australia.

When showcasing to the Chinese incentive market, we make it as easy as possible to see the unparalleled benefits of having an event at our precinct. This means packaging the venue space and design, bespoke menu offering, and location – only minutes from Melbourne’s dynamic city and connected by path, rail, road and river.

As we are a destination hot spot, we’ve ensured that our event spaces and features intrinsically captures Melbourne’s culture, Australia’s native landscape and fresh Victorian produce.