Over coffee with Anna Case

The Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games has ended but it is still delivering benefits to the coastal city. Destination Gold Coast’s director – global business events tells how

Anna Case

Two years ago, you said the Games would result in many business events for the Gold Coast. Did that happen?
Yes. We’ve secured 47 business events under the category of sports, health and wellness, which will bring us around A$82 million (US$62.8 million) in estimated economic impact. We have 15 more on the waitlist (as of early-April).

Anna Case

What sort of events are they?
Mostly association meetings, with a few incentive programmes. One of the (incentive) wins is Infinitus. In our eyes, Infinitus is the number one direct selling company in China, and their branding and products are around wellness.

Would you say that Infinitus was won because of GC2018?
Not directly due to the Games but because we had already won the Games when we were pitching to Infinitus, we were confident to say that since we could deliver the Games, we would be able to do the same for Infinitus. Seeing how the city has handled the Games, I think Infinitus should be fairly easy (laughs).

Why wasn’t there more corporate event wins?
We wanted to target corporate but it was a little more challenging because many of them (as sponsors) were being worked through with GOLDOC (Gold Coast 2018 Organising Committee).

GOLDORG’s work with the corporate groups was mainly around the games. That’s not our mission at all. We never targeted anyone during the Games because we had no access to tickets and space, and had no idea how things will be (at the point of corporate enquiry). Furthermore, GOLDOC had so many hotels blocked and locked in contracts.

I knew we could impact more of the associations business, particularly in sports, health and wellness. True enough, we’ve got anything from acupuncture to anti-doping.

Has the Games altered your city’s reputation for business events?
We are already up there as a contender for international events but many people don’t know about us. At IMEX people asked where the Gold Coast was. Asia knows us, particularly China. But a lot of Europeans, North Americans and South Americans don’t know who we are.

However, sometimes being too well known as a beach resort destination can be a negative.

How so?
Once we had one of our neuroradiology specialists, a charismatic and intelligent gentleman in his mid-40s – a very young age to have achieved what he did – who led an event bid. People didn’t think he was legit, considering his age and the place he came from. We had to convince the association, a very traditional European-based one. They eventually came down last year with record numbers – 1,200-plus neuroscientists and brain surgeons. They had the best time!

We just won the Australian Space Research Conference (September 2018) that NASA is part of. Would you see the Gold Coast as a place for space research? Well, we have a leader here in our backyard!

We have the Institute for Glycomics (in Southport, Queensland), a leader in malaria vaccine. With their trials now, they are so close to curing the disease.

People think a beach resort destination isn’t able to achieve this sort of things. But we have three amazing universities and very high profile academics and researchers who live here.

What are the main industries on your radar for business meetings?
Sports, health and wellness industries are the obvious ones, as the Gold Coast has always been a sporty destination. (In March) we attended SportAccord in Thailand, a tradeshow that connects destinations and organisations for future sporting events.

Our strategy is to win the sporting events with a conference component, like an AGM or a global coaches conference.

The other core industries are engineering, health and knowledge, film, marine and wildlife.

A lot of the theming and construction of activations during the Games were done by local companies. Is this an opportunity for local event suppliers to expand their capabilities?
Yes! A perfect example is Moreton Hire, a Gold Coast family-run company specialising in exhibition production for the past 50 years. They were involved in many of the Games projects and as a result, the people handling Tokyo 2020 (Summer Olympics) are now looking at them for collaboration opportunities.

I think that is one of the reasons why the State Government has gone behind the Games.

To build that legacy for Australians, you mean?
Yeah. A lot of sporting associations have relocated their headquarters to the Gold Coast. This was all the city’s efforts, which started in 2011 (when news broke that Gold Coast had won the Games bid). Destination Gold Coast Business Events also activated activity to encourage sporting associations to meet on the Gold Coast pre- and post-Games.

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