It’s time to meet in Sydney

There’s a reason why more than four million people come to do business in Sydney each year. The city is known for its natural beauty and outdoor lifestyle, but its appeal is also its unique combination of culture, creativity and commercial strengths. As we navigate through COVID-19, Sydney is getting ready to welcome more business visitors back to enjoy all that it has to offer once again, as restrictions continue to ease, and more doors reopen.

This year has certainly been the most eventful and challenging for the industry to date, an annus horribilis some might say, but for one of the most resilient cities in the world according to the Rockefeller Foundation, there are certainly glimmers of optimism emerging for 2021.

Event planners are increasingly moving forward with plans for their next major meetings, albeit hybrid for now, and the reopening of venues certainly increases the possibilities for business events to choose Sydney once again.

The NSW cap on corporate event participants indoors has now lifted to 300 people seated – a positive first step in returning confidence for the industry and providing hope for further easing to come.

The new Crowne Plaza Sydney Darling Harbour marks the return of the brand to Sydney after a 10-year hiatus.

Doors open for business

This month, the Crowne Plaza had its official opening at Darling Harbour; The Sydney Opera House unveiled a program of live events that start at the end of the month; Sydney Theatre Company will return for a new season from November; and Vivid Sydney announced its return next August.

Now, a new brand campaign will get to work on attracting business visitors back to Sydney and NSW, in the latest step to restart the city and state’s economy.

Backed by NSW Government and the tourism industry, and led by business events bidding specialists BESydney, the integrated strategy has an important role to play in re-building business confidence and helping the rattled sector re-find its feet.

The ‘It’s got to be Sydney’ campaign connects planners and suppliers via a dedicated microsite, showcasing Sydney’s unique attributes and ingredients that help Australian business meetings, conferences and exhibition event owners and planners transform their business events as we move closer to ‘COVID normal’.

The Sydney Opera House’s program of live events begin at the end of October.

Supporting the industry

The campaign complements the state’s broader tourism strategy and the Government’s focus on safely reopening and restarting sectors fundamental to boosting the economy, including its Sydney’s 24-Hour Economy Strategy.

“In our work securing Sydney hosting rights for global conferences and incentives over the past 50 years, BESydney has been at the forefront of promoting, protecting and growing our city’s reputation as Australia’s premier destination for business visitors,” BESydney CEO Lyn Lewis-Smith said.

“With COVID impacting our industry hard, we’re lending our business event promotion and acquisition expertise to help our industry fight for the state’s major share in the country’s previously vibrant domestic business events calendar.

It’s got to be Sydney is about hope,” Lewis-Smith added.

“This campaign is filled with optimism for a new COVID Safe future, where our expert Australian business events sector is once-again delivering safe ways for business gatherings to get people making real connections off-Zoom and face to face. Studies have shown time and again that in-person meetings are the most effective way to communicate and win business.

“Through this campaign, we’re focused on bringing business to Sydney, across state borders, and executing on the important role that this sector plays in the state’s economy, not just for direct expenditure, but for the potential investment, trade and social impact benefits that they can bring.”

ICC Sydney is now able to host corporate events up to 300 people.

The power of face to face

Following such a prolonged period of Zoom meetings, it is now crucial for businesses to get back on their feet, meet, share, collaborate and do business in person. Technology has been a good solution for staying connected through the pandemic, but it will never replace the true value that can be achieved when people meet face to face.

BESydney’s own research with the University of Technology Sydney over the past 10 years highlights the short and long term “beyond tourism” benefits of business events, including The Power of Conferences and Conferences: Catalysts for thriving economies.

Beyond the economic benefits, almost 90% of conference delegates surveyed in BESydney’s research said they were exposed to new and innovative ideas and knowledge. This exchange of ideas then resulted in 61% of exhibitors making international sales contacts – and allowed the local industry sector or researchers to showcase their expertise to a global audience, raising their profile by 79%.

“We are confident that face-to-face business events will return once again to their role shaping industries and relationships for years, and even decades, after they are held,” said Lewis-Smith. “Cross-border collaborations and business deals get a power hit at high-level international conferences and the resulting legacy is new policy and innovation.”

And the way strategic bidding specialists promoting to the business visitor can bring value to host cities and countries is changing, too.

“COVID-19 has given us the opportunity, once again, to reimagine our organisation, the role that we play in attracting business meetings, and working with our partners in the industry to re-design those meetings so we can create new value for clients and their delegates but also for our state and for our country,” said Lewis-Smith.

“We are now more focused than ever on sharing the story of Sydney, our smarts and capabilities, right across Australia and the rest of the world, and creating long-term social and economic impact.”

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