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Australia calls for events to reopen by September

On 3 June, Australia kicked-off the worldwide celebration for Global Exhibitions Day 2020 (#GED2020) with an online webinar highlighting the industry’s economic contribution. 

The webinar also included a strong call for exhibitions and business events to restart by September 2020.

Curated by the Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia (EEAA) and streamed from the ICC Sydney studios, the virtual event attracted more than 800 participants who engaged with the panel of local and international industry commentators.

EEAA Chief Executive, Claudia Sagripanti, said: “The clear message that came out of yesterday’s webinar is that the Australian business events industry is ready to restart face-to-face events under Government approved CovidSafe operating guidelines and a confirmed date from Federal and State Governments is required as a matter of urgency.

“Global Exhibitions Day showcases the business events sector’s contribution to trade and investment, new product launches and innovation, employment, domestic and regional visitation and networking.

“Exhibitions and business events are the key to rebuilding economies, and there has never been a more important time to highlight the sector’s capability to restart business activity – a top priority for companies and Governments in the current climate.”

The EEAA #GED campaign was designed around three key themes:

  • To re-imagine the future of exhibitions
  • To re-engage with buyers and sellers, and
  • To re-connect with the business events community

Key topics discussed during the webinar included the future of exhibitions and how the format will change in post Covid-19 recovery, hybrid events and what that means for the sector, re-engaging with the sector now to ensure strong confidence amongst buyers and sellers and ensuring the business events community remains financially viable and continues to be recognised as a key marketing channel.

Mark Cochrane, UFI Regional Manager, Asia Pacific, delivered a keynote address and update on global markets live from Hong Kong. Cochrane said that the opening of Asian markets such as China and Hong Kong provided 'critical and relevant' frameworks for Australia to follow.

Cochrane also said that while the Covid-19 crisis has spurred hybrid events, face-to-face events will remain a 'necessity' where buyers need to meet sellers, and see and touch products. He praised China’s tech giants for experimenting with the idea of the online exhibition space, such as e-commerce company Alibaba Group, which has used 3-D modelling, mixed reality and augmented reality to create an immersive experience.

Matthias Tesi Baur, Founder and Senior Consultant for MBB-Consulting Group, a specialist consulting agency for tradeshows, B2B and digital transformation, dialled in from London and updated the industry on the importance of implementing a crisis recovery plan. He advised the industry to "establish the sales team, set the strategy, create a post crisis USP and to embrace digital innovations".

Dr Vanessa Findlay, Chair of the Business Events Council of Australia (BECA) discussed the process and anticipated timeframe for decision-making processes for both the federal and state government in Australia.

Rodney Cox, Events Strategist and Director for Delaro, and Claudia Sagripanti, EEAA Chief Executive, moderated a panel discussion and live Q&A from international and Australian industry professionals. The discussion centred on  compliance frameworks, hybrid events, crisis recovery, reconnecting with the marketplace and rebuilding buyer confidence post-Covid-19, the next disruptor for the business events industry globally, and the need for the industry to be given a restart date.

The panel included:

  • Matthias Baur, Founder and Senior Consultant, MBB-Consulting Group
  • Debbie Evans, Managing Director, Asia-Pacific, Freeman APAC
  • Regine Vandenberg, Executive Director, Exhibitions and Events Australia
  • Helen Mantellato, Business Development Manager - International and Exhibitions, ICC Sydney and EEAA Board Member

The webinar can be viewed here.

Sagrapanti said: “The business events sector contributes more than A$35bn to GDP, runs over 430,000 events annually and employs more than 229,000 people. The sector is a major contributor to Australia both financially and for its ability to expand marketplaces by bringing together buyers and sellers and offering a platform for launching innovation and new product.”

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