Some hosted buyers from Singapore have indicated that Gold Coast has exceeded their expectations and they are keen to send groups Down Under.
For the first time since the annual showcase started in 2014, This Is Gold Coast Business Exchange (TIGCBE) invited event planners from South-east Asia. For the three hosted buyers, it was also their first visit to the Gold Coast.
“It’s been more than I expected,” said Trendy Dai, senior event manager for George P Johnson. “The (suppliers) we met were very helpful and they have a passion for events. The itineraries we’ve been shown and entire concepts have been awesome, and quite a few hotels have impressed me.”
A customised programme designed for them included site visits to hotels and meeting venues, a helicopter ride over the the city, and a surprise visit by a koala at the SkyPoint Observation Deck.
Sufiyana Hassan, senior events executive for CWT Meetings & Events, said there is a perception among her clients that Australia is an expensive destination but her visit has given her ideas on how to cut costs.
“They’ll want to experience the city like a local (anyway) so we don’t have to do transfers. We can take the tram instead and it’s just a few stops (to nearby hotels). Also, I’ve seen innovative backdrops which are cheaper and more mobile that we can potentially use,” Sufiyana shared.
Both Dai and Sufiyana told TTGmice that the visit has convinced them to bring groups to the Gold Coast.
“My clients have previously asked about Gold Coast but we didn’t have much knowledge about this place so we were (lukewarm) about the idea,” said Dai, whose main clients are from the IT industry like IBM. “Now we know what’s best for which groups and have the right contacts in Gold Coast to make this happen.”
Sufiyana said her groups have been going to South Korea and Japan, but she’ll now ask them to consider the Gold Coast for future meetings and incentive experiences.
However, Erica Hegarty, head of sales for Asia-Pacific at Pacific World, said while the Gold Coast impressed, it may not be the best place for her corporate groups.
“I feel that Brisbane would be a better option for corporate meetings because they have more venue options. But I think the Gold Coast has more choice when it comes to activities and experiences, particularly for incentive groups,” she opined.
Regardless, Hegarty said more of her Asia-Pacific based corporate clients have been asking about Australia as a meetings destination.
“They’ve done enough within Asia, and Europe has been more appealing because it’s just a few more hours travel than Australia,” Hegarty said. “But I think (the appetite) to experience new destinations (is there) and Australia is being mentioned quite often these days.”
A total of 68 hosted buyers attended the three-day showcase which ended on Saturday.