Meeting conference and event guide

Written on the 10 February 2009

Meeting conference and event guide

THE Gold Coast’s pristine environment coupled with its world class facilities provides a mecca of choice for business travellers, conference organisers and event planners. A variety of venues, activities and entertainment are spread across the Gold Coast inviting delegates to feast on the flavours of the coast.

But what does corporate travel mean tothe Gold Coast? Martin Winter, CEO of Gold Coast Tourism (CGT) says the benefits of business travellers are two-fold for the region.
“Importantly business events exceed their dollar value. (Business events) showcase the expertise of the region, they showcase innovation to the world and they attract global leaders and investment decision makers who would otherwise not come to our region,” says Winter.
GCT is working to ensure the Gold Coast wipes out the competition when bidding on the best and biggest events and in turn generating business visitors to the coast. The competition is stiff and Winter says financially the Coast is at a disadvantage.
“We are up against financially powerful competitors such as Melbourne and Sydney,” he says.
Fortunately the Gold Coast has the upper hand on some of the bigger cities offering various unrivalled aspects.
“The Gold Coast is a great location for conferences as it provides excellent air access, it has cost effective accommodation and highly professional meeting places,” says Winter.
“There are a large variety of venues, all of international standard, and of course the environment is second to none in the country and even the world.
“There is a huge inventory of accommodation which meets the demand of every traveller.
“It is also a very safe destination for all international travellers.”
Winter warns there is a chilly front to consider: The importance of recognising the Gold Coast as a prime location is not enough to attract conferences and events.
“What conference goers are coming to the Gold Coast for, they will go anywhere for,” says Winter.
“People primarily go to conferences to learn, so just because we have blue skies it does not mean that is why people specifically come here for conferences.”
The average international business visitor spends $3600 during their stay on the Gold Coast and 46 per cent go on to travel throughout Australia, thus promoting the whole nation as well as the region.
Winter asserts it is these benefits that make business travellers an increasingly important asset.
“The non-tangible benefits are most important,” he says.
“We are linking business visitors to opportunities and through this they are making partnerships and joint ventures with people already on the GC.”
Furthermore, business travellers are proving to be the highest yielding type of visitor which in turn creates a run on effect contributing an estimated $17.36 billion to the Australian economy per year.
More popular than conferences is incentive travel with more and more companies opting to send their employees to the sandy shores of the Gold Coast where leisure meets luxury and enjoyment is always teamed with entertainment.
Winter believes it’s the diversity of the coast that makes it ideal for incentive travellers.
“Decision makers are amazed by the experiences the Gold Coast offers,” says Winter.
“Incentive travel is generally in the form of companies and businesses providing rewards for reaching a target and comes in the form of fully paid usually first class travel,
“The Gold Coast is very well placed in terms of these experiences.
“From fine dining in Broadbeach and Surfers Paradise to fabulous experiences in the Hinterland; and from luxury indulgence to wildlife sanctuaries, there is a lot of offer.
“You can go from visiting a theme park to dirt biking to swimming with the dolphins before attending a twilight function at an open air venue.” 
The Queensland Business Events Survey conducted by the Office of Statistical and Economic Research (OESR) revealed that in the year ending June 2007 the Gold Coast attracted 221,352 delegate visitors to the Gold Coast. 
This was complimented by a total expenditure of $574,617,983 by business event delegates.
This demonstrates the importance of the industry both financially and in terms of regional reputation.
Couran Cove
Planning a conference is a big deal. It takes time, excellent organisational skills, patience and most importantly decision making skills. There is usually very little time to fiddle with details and once you’ve locked in an option, changing your mind isn’t always easily accommodated. Think of a plan of attack before you dive head first into organising. The guidelines below will help take the stress out of planning an event, meeting or conference.
The first consideration for businesses planning an event or conference is to get the team together and discuss the purpose or the aim of the event. Not only will this ensure that your event has a set goal to work towards, but it also puts the team on the same page with preparations. This includes who the intended target audience is and how to allow for specific planning, eliminating wasted time when decisions need to be made in regards to the audience. 
Your budget will determine what you can and cannot do with the event. Thus it is one of the most important considerations. The budget should reflect your aim and all its aspects. It is important to take into consideration travel costs, accommodation, meals and registrations.
On top of this, the venue hire, activities, AV requirements, entertainment, and print and promotional material should be factored in.
It might be worth the time obtaining a couple of quotes – these items are competitive so prices between places could differ quite significantly.
One of the most important aspects to consider here is the guest speaker or host. Costs associated with the guest speaker may peak unexpectedly if it is likely that travel and accommodation costs are to be covered by the organiser of the event.

If the budget is stretched, consider looking into sponsorship.
Target the sponsorship appropriately. Businesses will rarely look at sponsorship opportunities that aren’t going to be beneficial to them.
There is more likely to be sponsorship opportunities available in a business which is suited to your theme and event.

Appointing an event manager is recommended when planning large-scale conferences. For smaller meetings it probably isn’t necessary to outsource and might just add unnecessary expense. But whether you are having a large or small event it is important to have one person in charge that can be the main point of contact, answer questions and delegate tasks. If there isn’t one ‘go to’ person there will be a lot of confusion in the lead up to the event. This will ensure that the event runs smoothly.
A show book can provide a useful record of what has been organised and what needs doing. Included in the show book should be an itinerary, the requirements and a timeline of when things are expected to be completed.
The show book will be integral to the organisation of the event as it should contain all the quotes and receipts. It might be a good idea to make photocopies of these important documents. That way if the show book gets lost you have a copy of all the documentation.
Registration can be a nightmare if the office doesn’t have the capacity to manually register people. There are various online companies that offer solutions to arduous registration issues. 

Specific companies can assist with finding the best prices and deals on travel and transfers. This includes airfare, coach transfers and car hire. 

Venues and accommodation are plentiful on the Gold Coast, please see page 44 for a selection of the Coast’s finest venues.
Depending on the size and structure of your event, there’s a ‘hit list’ of venues to consider. Take the time to visit the venue and inspect the conference rooms and facilities. This will allow you to envisage how your event will take place in the venue. Make sure the venue fits into your budget. If in doubt, choose a venue with a proven track record or ask the venue if you can view an upcoming event that is similar to your own. 

Theming is important as it can take an event to the next level. Theming often gets forgotten in budgets, so make sure you consider available funds before splurging on a theme.
Creating a professional conference set will ensure that the delegates’ attention is held. 

Make sure you cover all your bases with AV requirements, especially if it is an event that spans over a couple of days. Remember that you’ll need AV equipment for many aspects of the event from PowerPoint presentations to microphones for guest speakers. Allow for an operator to be on standby to help with any problems. There is nothing more embarrassing than failing technology in the 21st century. 


Programs or outlines of the order of events are useful as it helps delegates keep track of what is happening and what is to come. The event manager should not need to deal with thousands of questions which could easily avoided by printing programs. Print outs of speakers’ main points are beneficial to delegates as it helps them follow the presentation. It is also a good idea to print sponsors’ logos on the programs or menus. 

Entertainment and guest speakers are essential to ensure a successful event, however make sure the entertainment and guest speaker fit in with your aim.
Whether you are hosting a small meeting, conference or a negotiation, you are going to need a venue. The venue can make or break a deal. Arguably the biggest faux pas is having a space too big for the number of attendees. Often referred to as ‘maxi-sizing’ the mistake can make attendees feel out of place and make your event look like a total non-event. To avoid this make sure the venue you pick can accommodate as many people as you’ve invited with an option to block off sections should the numbers be less.
TWIN Towns offers a unique location and package combination and is situated on the coastal border of Queensland and New South Wales. The venue offers complete package options tailored to customers’ needs.
Twin Towns boasts an impressive array of corporate facilities with close proximity to Gold Coast Airport, set among the breathtaking beauty of the southern Gold Coast and Tweed.
The creativity of the conference team will ensure that the varied dynamics of each event are catered for in style, from small meetings to large conferences, conventions, trade shows or any other event.
Twin Towns Clubs and Resorts has a long and proven history of hosting major conferences from all sectors of industry and government. This solid reputation continues to flourish, with the team securing the largest, and most prestigious events for the region.
Twin Towns’ latest function venue Signatures is perfect for corporate functions up to 150 guests. With natural light, this stylish venue suits corporate breakfasts, dinners and all events. Situated near the lobby of the four-and-a-half star Outrigger Twin Towns Resorts, guests have ease of access to deluxe hotel suites and apartments.
LOCATED in the heart of World Heritage listed Lamington National Park, in the Gold Coast Hinterland, O’Reilly’s is redefining the traditional conference into a truly unique corporate retreat where bird calls replace phone calls and delegates can think on a higher plane and climb to new levels, literally.
One kilometre above sea-level, O’Reilly’s provides the perfect haven for focused thinking and productive outcomes.
The newest addition to O’Reilly’s modern facilities will take it to a new level, with the exclusive $35 million Mountain Villas eco-villa development featuring 48 luxury self-contained villas, offering that rare combination of natural escape in an unsurpassed location.
The Mountain Villas project also incorporates the new Lost World Spa and Conference Centre, which opened last August. The $5 million purpose-built facility is dedicated to the hosting of corporate conferences, meetings and retreats. It features retreat style conference facilities set against a breathtaking mountain backdrop, with breakout room and large terrace overlooking the infinity edge pool to the mountains.
Companies can commence their conference with clear minds by beginning with a short reflection, relaxation and focus session facilitated by the Lost World Spa staff. Alternatively, for those who want a more rigorous start to the day, they can experience the exhilaration of the flying fox or climb to new heights on an interpretive guided rainforest walk.
O’Reilly’s ‘Sunset Experience’ is the perfect way to broaden business horizons. The 4WD trip to the secluded lookout gives delegates a whole new outlook, with sweeping views of a spectacular sunset over the rolling hills of the Great Dividing Range inspiring limitless possibilities. Sunset drinks and canapés make the experience social as well as inspirational.
The combination of indoor and outdoor experiences on offer allows for a range of opportunities for team-building and competitive challenges as well as traditional presentation sessions.
An escape from the office to the tranquil quiet of an environment free from the distractions of phone, fax and email provides the ideal opportunity to clear the head and think strategically about business growth and future directions.
The O’Reilly’s Canungra Valley Vineyards, at the base of the mountain, also adds a diverse option to the dining, socialising and meeting opportunities in a conference program with picnic lunches by the creek a popular offsite venue option. Conference groups staying at O’Reilly’s also receive complimentary wine tasting at the vineyard.
O’Reilly’s is living up to its reputation ‘where good things just come naturally’, and delivering, to the highest standard, its unique brand of legendary hospitality, honed over 90 years in the business.
COURAN Cove resort compliments a relaxed way of networking in a natural setting, with relief from the hustle and bustle of CBD locations. Conference delegates can unwind after their meetings in one of the many restaurants, cafes or pools.
For the past 10 years Couran Cove has been recognised as Queensland’s premier eco resort and more recently Queensland’s Best Corporate Caterer, a title they have kept for the fourth year in a row.
The world class conference rooms and catering attracts businesses from around the world. Attendees can discover a whole new perspective on hosting a corporate event to combine stimulating breakout spaces and teambuilding activities - set among a natural rainforest and 22km of pristine surf beaches.
The resort has an unspoiled charm with unique Australian character.
Couran Cove’s general manager, Scott Hayden, is proud of the resort’s reputation as a leader not only in eco-tourism but also in corporate and private events. He says the resort was made up of many unique elements which make it a memorable visit for all guests.
“Many people come to the resort to get away from it all in a natural setting and leave the resort with a deeper understanding of the world around them – it really is ecotourism at its best,” Hayden says.
“Whether you’re here for a conference or a weekend getaway, the resort will leave you feeling more relaxed and rejuvenated.
“The natural beauty, strong commitment to the environment, luxury accommodation and state-of-the-art technology make this a memorable destination for all occasions.”
Guests can stay at the various styles of accommodation ranging from waterfront rooms and suites to two bedroom lodges and four bedroom villas.
SINCE opening in 2000, Palazzo Versace Gold Coast (pictured) has set the benchmark for deluxe 5-star accommodation, offering guests a unique Versace lifestyle experience. 
Recognized as the ideal destination for business executives, incentive groups, small and large meetings and for those who appreciate the comfort and style of an international resort property, Palazzo Versace is the ultimate reward for the high achiever.  
If you’re celebrating a milestone then the Palazzo Versace experience is an exclusive and motivating opportunity for your company, where a lavish celebration or more intimate occasion can serve to empower your team to even greater achievements in the year ahead.
Pricing for individual and company gatherings are tailored according to your specific requirements and mindful of budget constraints.
The range of facilities at Palazzo Versace include access to professional in-house audio visual services, entertainment providers, team building specialists and a special event professionals dedicated to ensuring the success of your event.
 Gift certificates are proving to be the perfect incentive for sales teams and include accommodation options, dining and spa treatments.  
Palazzo Versace recognizes that incentive groups require individual care and attention and pride themselves on saying there are no delegates at Palazzo Versace – only guests. The specialist event management team tailor every activity to specific needs.
Three award-winning restaurants offer a range of dining options from a relaxed ‘bistro’ style to a genuine fine dining experience. 
The day spa, Salus per Aquum, offers pampering and health facilities that include a gymnasium, spa, steam room, sauna, indoor pool and a full range of body treatments to soothe and relax tired muscles.   
For those who simply can’t fully escape the ‘office’, a newly refurbished Business Centre is available to guests.
IMAGINE fresh, juicy prawns; succulent steaks; and rich chocolate desserts. It is through these delightful and mouth-watering dishes that the Functions Centre wins the hearts and repeat business of so many loyal customers.
Adding to this great service, flexible packages and dedicated, experienced staff, the Functions Centre provides everything needed to create the perfect event.
Located away from traffic congestion and with over 500 free car parks the Functions Centre allows your guests to arrive at our elegant and professional venue, relaxed and with time to spare.
“Recognising that every event is unique is crucial in delivering above and beyond our client expectations,
“Our flexible and imaginative approach to every event has been the cornerstone of our success as a venue,
“Our approach is simply to assume nothing and to deliver everything and more,” says Kelly Williamson, senior functions coordinator.
Specialising in Corporate events, Weddings and Parties, the Functions Centre’s professional staff can customise packages, catering for 10 to 1000 people.
With the latest in audio-visual equipment available and our on site technical expertise, your conference, trade show, awards night, seminar or meeting has everything it needs to succeed. With flexible and adaptable rooms, any event will be unique and completely tailored to your requirements.
Panorama Room, Gold Coast Arts Centre
THE Gold Coast Arts Centre is located in the heart of Bundall, with various functions rooms that can cater for any style of event from small dinners to extravagant fully themed gala dinners in the Paradise Showroom. The Paradise Showroom opens onto a large terrace with views of Evandale Lake, Nerang River, Sculpture Walkway and the spectacular Surfers Paradise Skyline.
 Executive chef Brian Meade heads the kitchen team controlling all aspects of catering in the Centre, which include the Comedy Clubhouse, Café Arts, Weddings, Corporate Events and Off Premises Catering. Meade has been the executive chef for over 18 years at the Arts Centre and has seen some amazing changes and been involved in some spectacular events which have on occasion moved him from the kitchen to the centre stage such as in the Centre’s 3 Chefs’ Do Lunch. During 3 Chefs Do Lunch Brian’s kitchen team served over 3500 meals to 360 guests, in its fifth year this event is now a fixture on the Gold Coast culinary calendar.
 Currently the Gold Coast Arts Centre is staging its production of Cabaret Berserkus with a Two Course Pre Theatre Dinner available prior to most performances “it is a wonderful start to a perfect theatre evening” says Meade.
 During this very busy season Meade will also serve over 1400 guests in the Café Arts prior to the performances, 300 guests at Pre Theatre Cocktail functions. Also during this time he will serve 400 meals at the Comedy and Jazz in the Basement.
 “It’s a very busy and demanding job not just during our performance times but all year round. Challenging and exciting this variety is what keeps my creative juices flowing,” Meade says.
 The Gold Coast Arts Centre was awarded winner of the Restaurant and Catering Queensland Awards for Excellence Best Venue Cater for 2008, which they also won in 2004,2005,and 2006.
THE Gold Coast Turf Club is known as Australia’s busiest racecourse with racing every Saturday and over 700 horses training every morning.
But few probably realise the busy off-track activity that goes on in the function rooms of the Bundall racecourse seven days a week.
The host venue of the Conrad Jupiters Magic Millions carnival and four- time Gold Coast Business Excellence Awards winner for the Coast’s best Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality experience is also one of the Gold Coast’s premier venues for seminars, team building activities, exhibitions, corporate lunches, conferences and cocktail parties.
Catering for 50 to 1000 guests, the club also hosts school formals, training sessions, product launches, award nights, networking breakfasts and weddings.
Gold Coast Turf Club presents a range of unique corporate or private function options – a top-flight combination of fine dining in first class function rooms.
The facilities range from smaller rooms for intimate functions to The Dome which can cater for up to 1000 people. Function organisers demand flexibility and the highest quality food and beverage, and those are things the Club can deliver seven days a week, 365 days of the year.
The Gold Coast Turf Club is happy to prepare packages for any occasion, including special menus, themeing, entertainment and much more. As a bonus, the rooms also offer enviable views of the racetrack and the Surfers Paradise skyline and more than ample free on-site parking.
The Turf Club’s function facilities are also constantly upgraded to provide the ultimate in patron comfort. They are all air-conditioned, wheelchair-friendly and well appointed with bars and contemporary furnishings. On the racing side of things, extensive improvements were made to the racetrack last year, including some re-cambering and re-turfing, replacement of the grandstand seating and upgrades to the jockey’s room and the stewards, medical and media areas.
A spacious new Director’s Lounge off the Saddling Enclosure has proved an instant hit with VIP club guests and connections of the winners who are invited to celebrate their victory.
The Club’s premier room, the Board Room, has recently been released to the public to hold functions of up to 200 guests.
Located on Level 2 it has uninterrupted views of the track and Surfers Paradise skyline.
WARNER Bros. Movie World, the only all-weather theme park on the Gold Coast, boasts a spectacular new 4000sqm roof (pictured). Private and corporate events will benefit from this new all-weather venue, making Warner Bros. Movie World the second largest event/function venue on the Gold Coast with a seating capacity of up to 2000 guests.
Covering a large area of the park including Main Street and The Plaza - Movie World’s hub of entertainment - the new roof will provide guests with year round protection from the elements including inclement weather and sultry summer days.
Event organisers can also rest assured knowing that no plan B is required – rain, hail or shine – Movie World has it covered.
Warner Village Theme Parks chief executive officer John Menzies says the roof will add a completely new dimension to Movie World.
“The roof looks spectacular at night with specialty lighting and themeing which creates a magical atmosphere, allowing us to offer event organisers a unique experience above and beyond the standard package,”
“This is a wonderful addition to the Warner Bros. Movie World offering allowing guests to experience one of Australia’s best theme parks during the day or night in all weather conditions” he says.
WITH last year’s tinsel barely off the walls and the Christmas tree freshly packed away, the next silly season seems a long way off. But for the events team at Dreamworld, the focus this February is on nothing but driving the 2009 yuletide bookings.
“It does seem crazy,” admits Dreamworld’s national events manager, Angela Esdaile. “But the fact is organizations tend to lock down their end of year events and social club outings by March making this is our busiest season for bookings.”
With almost three-quarters of the revenue for after hours events channelled through the November and December period, Esdaile says it’s important for to get the product right.
“Companies like to get in early. They put the date into the diary and then use the long lead time to raise money to subsidize the event or to prepare their staff to slowly pay off the cost.”
With discretionary spend down, forward planning is going to be key for 2009 festivities and the team at Dreamworld is reacting to the current financial situation with a refreshed range of product.
“It was clear that by late 2008, corporate financiers and revellers alike were expecting less frills and more focus on value for money,” explains Esdaile. “Our Corporate Christmas Parties – the four nightly events in which businesses can buy a part of bigger gala event - really took off.
“I guess it was the middle earth. They got after hours use of a theme park complete with spectacular thrill rides, live entertainment and a buffet laden with Christmas treats, all for the cost of a table and without the price tag of booking out a whole park.”
This year, the team will expand on the concept with the introduction of WhiteWater World as a venue. 
“WhiteWater World is more casual, more iconically Australian, and great for the youth culture. In addition to opening up surfing sessions and water slides, we will inject some creative theming into the park, like eskies brimming with drinks by each table and really develop some beachside fun. The cost will also be two-thirds of the Dreamworld price.”
Corporate Christmas Parties aside, Esdaile says that exclusive end of year events were still on the agenda.
“We will also create private events to suit most budgets. They can start from as little as $30 a head for groups of 250 at WhiteWater World to a once-in-a-lifetime, high-end intimate dinner at Tiger Island with the chance to get close the magnificent animal for $180 a head.”
ENJOY all the excitement of the Jetstar Gold Coast Titans’ 2009 season from the comfort of your very own corporate box. Soak up the atmosphere from the best seats in the house as the Titans’ strive to qualify for an historic finals berth.
Corporate opportunities for the 2009 season are limited so don’t miss this rare chance to belong to a vibrant young team playing at one of the best sporting facilities in Australia, Skilled Park.
There is no better way to entertain existing or prospective clients while wait staff attend to your every need. 
Benefits include your very own private corporate box (ranging from eight to 12 seats) for all Jetstar Gold Coast Titans regular season home games in 2009. Corporate boxes are located in the best seats along the Western Grandstand at Skilled Park. Each box contains its own flat screen television.
The package also includes two tickets to the 2009 Paul Broughton Medal Awards night; an eight page listing in the 2009 Jetstar Gold Coast Titans Corporate Directory; access to purchase tickets to Jetstar Gold Coast Titans home finals and the NRL grand final (subject to availability), option to become a Corporate member; and access to purchase tickets to Jetstar Gold Coast Titans marquee corporate events, such as the Corporate Season Launch and the Annual Gala Charity Ball (subject to availability).
 by Cezanne Laidlaw

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