Meetings conference and events guide

Written on the 2 March 2009

Meetings conference and events guide


BRISBANE city offers unrivalled work and play balance making the city a perfect conference destination according to Annabel Sullivan, Brisbane Marketing director of business events.
“Brisbane is a conference city expertly balanced between business and pleasure that offers delegates an easy, enjoyable experience,” says Sullivan.
“The business events sector plays a vital role in supporting the local economy.
“It’s well recognised in the tourism industry that business travellers spend up to five times more than leisure visitors – making them a high yield market. Hotels and venues are clear cut winners but business events also offer a flow-on effect to the broader community with restaurants, the retail sector and leisure and tourism operators also standing to reap financial benefits.”
The city’s reputation is also set to benefit from business visitors and Sullivan attests these visitors contribute to Brisbane in both physical and non-tangible ways.
“As Brisbane attracts business events it enhances the city’s profile and the opportunities for investment attraction in targeted industry sectors,” says Sullivan.
Despite the economic downturn conference facilities continue to prosper arguably due to the topical nature of the ongoing crisis. Brisbane in turn has grown in popularity as a business destination at a time where assumedly visitor numbers would be down.
 “Brisbane is a compact, walkable city that offers delegates all the benfits of meeting in a modern, urban destination – world class facilities, easy transport options, great restaurants and bars, a vibrant art and cultural scene. Brisbane then caps it off with a relaxed and genuinely friendly ambience,” says Sullivan
“Adding to Brisbane’s appeal is the diverse range of leisure activities and pre and post touring options. From kayaking on the river to exploring the latest exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art, to sand boarding the dunes and hand-feeding wild dolphins at Morton Island, Brisbane offers something for everyone.”
The meetings, incenvtive, conference and events industry also significantly contributes to the Brisbane economy and Sullivan says the benefit financially is phenomenal.
“During the last financial year the Brisbane Convention Bureau won 37 bids for future business events that will deliver more than 27,000 business visitors and an economic benefit of more than $58 million to Brisbane,” she says.
Statistics reflect that the bids won by Brisbane have been increasing. The number of bids grew from 23 in 2005 – 2006 to 27 in 2006 – 2007. The figures also reflect that these bids brought between 12,000 and 15,000 business visitors to Brisbane from 2005 – 2007.
Incentive travel has also jumped in popularity with Brisbane’s growing reputation as a world class destination. Sullivan believes Brisbane’s unique experiences make it an ideal location to send employees as rewards.
“Now, more than ever, Brisbane has a growing opportunity to offer unique, money-can’t-buy, incentive experiences,” says Sullivan
“With a burgeoning art and culture community, great experiences like the Gallery of Modern Art and a growing reputation for securing world-exclusive exhibitions such as the Warhol, Picasso and Met exhibits, Brisbane is well placed to offer unique experiences that are perfect for the incentive market.”
A FEW years ago Brisbane might have seemed like a regional choice to have a conference. But the city has grown and business is booming. Brisbane has averaged an annual economic growth rate of 4.5 per cent for the past 20 years.
The city now features some of the world’s leading research facilities including the Queensland Institute of Medical Research, the largest medical research institute in the southern hemisphere. 
As for conventions, the city has risen to claim 48th place in the 2008 International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) city rankings. The city is the closest eastern seaboard Australian capital to the Asia Pacific region making it a trade and export hub.
For international delegates the city is an easily accessibly hub which boasts world-class facilities. Brisbane Marketing has outlined the following points promoting the city’s top points:
Venues are plentiful in Brisbane from traditional meeting places such as the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre to more creative spaces that pop up in every suburb of Brisbane. From eight to 8000 there’s a hotel or hall, a boardroom or ballroom to meet the need.
The list of hotels in Brisbane is endless. The options range for boutique to cost-concious and of course five star. Brisbane has more than 12,500 guest rooms and 35,000 beds to crawl into for a good night’s rest.
Brisbane Marketing reports that Brisbane is one of the most economical options for the cost conscious. Rated as one of the lowest cost meeting destinations by the Runzheimer Guide to Daily Travel Prices, Brisbane is the ideal place meet, greet and not break the budget.
The Brisbane Airport is undergoing a $2.8 billion infrastructure improvement program and boasts a convenient city location. Coupled with the services of almost 30 airlines, the airport collectively operated more than 3250 international and domestic flights each week.
A friendly city
Brisbane city is a compact capital with a friendly culture. It boasts all the essential urban experiences as well as authentic Australian outdoor adventures. Public transport is easy to use and the CBD is easily navigated by foot.
Planning a conference is a big deal. It takes time, excellent organisational skills, patience and most importantly decision making skills. There is normally no time to fiddle with details and once you’ve locked in an option changing your mind isn’t always easily accommodated. It might be best to think of a plan of attack before you dive head first into organising. The guidelines below will help you through the steps 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 complete. 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 in Brisbane, please see section below on 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 your event taking place in the venue. Make sure the venue fits into your budget and allows enough to cover other costs.
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 then 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 hand outs.

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, a conference or a negotiation, you are going to need a venue. The venue can make or break in a deal and is therefore important. Arguably the biggest faux pas is having a space too big for the amount 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
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 start 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,” says Hayden.
“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.
WARNER Bros. Movie World, the only all-weather theme park on the Gold Coast, boasts a spectacular new 4000 sq m roof. 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 seating for 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” he says.
“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.”
ENJOY all the excitement of the Jetstar Gold Coast Titans’ 2009 season from the comfort of your 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 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 buy 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 buy tickets to Jetstar Gold Coast Titans marquee corporate events, such as the Corporate Season Launch and the Annual Gala Charity Ball (subject to availability).
RADISSON Resort Gold Coast boasts extraordinary facilities and is partnered with five golf courses. Conference packages are tailored to suit business needs and budgets and the venue has the advantage of being close to Gold Coast Airport and about an hour from Brisbane Airport. Radisson Resort is a quiet oasis but only 10 minutes drive from the hub of the action, beaches, and the casino.
Leisure facilities include two swimming pools, four floodlit tennis courts, a fitness centre, and a day spa. Palm Meadows and Lakelands golf courses are just metres from the resort entrance. Partner golf courses include Robina Woods, The Glades, and The Colonial.
Residential conference groups can enjoy the tranquil surrounds of the low-rise resort. The on-site day spa offers a range of pampering packages for delegates and partners. Partner programs include cooking classes, cocktail making classes, hot air balloon flights, spa treatments, Hinterland wine trails, and shopping expeditions. Partners and delegates can relax on a Broadwater cruise, sail away to an island adventure, or dine on a tall ship.
The resort has 280 rooms, all rooms have ensuite bathrooms and either private balconies or courtyards. In-room facilities include high-speed internet access, work desks, direct dial phones, air-conditioning, mini bars, and room service.
There are 15 versatile conference rooms for groups of 10 to 700 people. These include the newly refurnished ballroom and two outdoor venues. Staging Connections is on-site for lighting, technical and creative consultation. There is a paging communications box for conference organisers and wireless internet extends throughout the venues.
Food and beverage facilities include a comprehensive catering service, room service, the elegant but casual Chelos Restaurant and the Rex Lounge Bar. Catering can be arranged for groups of 10 to 400 guests banquet style or 700 guests for cocktail-style functions
CUSTOMS House, one of Brisbane’s heritage icons, is located on the river in Brisbane’s CBD. The building which is owned and operated by The University of Queensland operates as a cultural, educational and heritage facility. The beautifully restored building has stunning cathedral ceilings, sculptured pillars and a balcony overlooking the river.
Customs House is a unique facility for all styles of functions. Professional catering is available from 6 to 300 people (200 people for a dinner and 300 people for a cocktail reception). The prestigious Queen Street location, service and facilities makes Customs House one of Brisbane’s premier function venues.
A restaurant is located on the river level of the building and provides inside dining in heritage surroundings as well as outside dining overlooking the river and the Story Bridge. The relaxed ambience is popular with tourists, business clients and local customers. Guests can be assured of excellent food, fantastic river views and friendly professional service.
Conference and event planners can access a Customs house virtual tour, menus and prices online.
THE Royal Automobile Club of Victoria, (RACV) made its first inroads interstate late last year with the purchase of the iconic Gold Coast property, Royal Pines Resort.
Having undergone a multi-million dollar transformation in 2007, the resort’s new look has put the property back on the map as Australia’s premier destination for business, sport, leisure and lifestyle, and under new ownership this will only continue.
RACV’s managing director and chief executive officer, Colin Jordan, recently announced a number of expansion plans designed to build on the resort’s position as a premier event and leisure destination.
“All rooms in the resort were recently fully refurbished. We plan to build on those improvements and fully review and upgrade all other facilities in the resort, making this a fantastic conference and exhibition centre, as well as making it a family-friendly holiday destination,” says Jordan.
Current plans include major upgrades to the convention centre, such as better sound proofing, new interior décor and wireless internet access, which will improve conferencing options.
The refurbishment of the Level 21 restaurant and kitchen and the development of a new gym and exercise room will expand the leisure and recreational activities on offer.
The RACV Royal Pines Resort team is also celebrating a landmark success, having achieved the highest number of accolades of any entrant in the 2008 Queensland Tourism Awards, held in Brisbane in November.
Nominated in four individual categories the resort dominated the competition and was acknowledged as the overall winner of the Meetings & Business Tourism award, as well as receiving the Major Festival & Events award as the host of the 2008 ANZ Ladies Masters.
RACV Royal Pines Resort hosts a range of award-winning event spaces and conference package options to suit your requirements and budget. With eight smaller meeting rooms that feature floor to ceiling natural light and a variety of flexible formats and seating options that can be tailored to meet your exact specifications.
A purpose-built boardroom allows delegates access to high speed internet and features panoramic views of the golf course and magnificent resort gardens. For larger conferences and events the Royal Benowa Ballroom seats 1800 people, along with an amazing array of unique venue options that include the podium lawns and the undercover tennis courts.
 Venues are available to day guests and residential conferences and the dedicated staff will ensure that all event bookings, initial meeting room hire, breakout facilities, catering and accommodation result in a smooth, well planned event.

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