Business events ‘get on with it’ as confidence returns

Tourism Australia’s latest research on domestic decision makers’ attitudes towards restarting business events confirms that despite the impact of Covid restrictions towards the end of 2021, businesses are largely positive about the future of business events.

Eighty per cent of businesses claim they have had to postpone or cancel an event that was scheduled between October and December 2021.

Encouragingly most of these events have been rescheduled within the next 12 months and one in four have been rescheduled within the next three months.

Sixty-seven per cent of businesses are planning events in the next six to 12 months, up 5 per cent from October. And whilst the proportion of decision makers planning events for the next 12 to 24 months has dropped slightly (down 7 per cent from October to 74 per cent), it still remains strong.

It suggests that businesses are increasing focus on the short term, with seven out of 10 corporate decision makers expressing the need to simply “get on with it” when it comes to living with Covid restrictions and the challenges they bring.

For decision makers planning events in the next 12 to 18 months or sooner, there is a clear appetite to run larger scale events such as incentive programs as well as state-level and national conferences.

Sixty per cent of businesses claim future events will involve some form of travel, with appetite for interstate travel still high, and 55 per cent plan to run their events face-to-face.

For businesses that are planning to hold events in the future, there are positive indications regarding the number of events, allocated budget and the number of attendees. At least 81 per cent of these businesses claim these metrics will remain the same as pre-pandemic levels or increase.

However, as the rollout of Covid boosters continues, decision makers are mindful of the vaccination policies of venues, citing it to be the main factor influencing their decision making when planning interstate events.

Robin Mack, Tourism Australia’s head of business events, said it was good news to see “a resurgence in confidence” for the business events sector.

“A growth in the proportion of businesses planning events in the next six to 12 months suggests a focus on short-term planning, while the desire to return to face to face events is clear,” he said.

“Despite Covid still being a factor in decision making, the overall findings provide very positive news for Australia’s business events industry.

“We’re at the stage where we’re seeing a resilience develop amongst decision makers as we become used to living with Covid-19.

“The continued intent for many businesses to travel for events, along with a clear appetite to run larger scale events – such as state-level and national conferences – suggests that hopefully we won’t see the fluctuations in confidence that we have witnessed previously.”

Mack said Tourism Australia’s domestic business events strategy will “lean into these trends” to drive recovery in the weeks and months ahead.

“We’re on the cusp of launching some key initiatives targeting corporate decision makers that will amplify how business events are critical to building and fostering culture, morale and performance in today’s hybrid working environment,” he said.