Asia-Pacific Article Library

The Victorian Government has released details of a new initiative that will see more than 115 major organisations hold multi-day stays in bushfire affected areas in regional Victoria.

Premier Daniel Andrews and Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events Martin Pakula today released details of the `Business & Sport for Bushfire Recovery’ program, which has won enthusiastic backing from business chiefs who have pledged to hold meetings, events or conferences in a bushfire-affected region over the next six months and then through the rest of 2020.

More than 115 organisations have already backed the initiative, including the AFL, NAB, Herald & Weekly Times, Collingwood Football Club, Cricket Australia, Crown, Tennis Australia, Alibaba, Swisse, PWC, Bosch Australia and AustralianSuper.

The Government expects more organisations from the corporate, sports and government sectors to take the pledge in coming days to invest their time and money in regional Victoria.

Individuals can also support regional tourism businesses which have suffered a massive hit to their trade in what would normally be their busiest months by exploring a part of Victoria impacted by these fires.

The Government’s tourism and events company, Visit Victoria, will also put in place a range of marketing activities to promote the experiences on offer for visitors to regional Victoria.

High-profile Victorians including Rachel Griffiths, Dave Hughes, Andy Lee and Nick Dal Santo will lead the charge to help regional communities by recording video messages to share with their followers on social media.

In further Government support for tourism operators, Tourism North East and Destination Gippsland will each receive a $200,000 grant to assist with their immediate recovery efforts. This includes support for a dedicated staff member to work directly with operators and coordinate marketing and campaign activities.

For details on how companies can get involved in `Business & Sport for Bushfire Recovery’, go to Companies enrolled in the program will be listed on the same page.

On Monday, February 17, URBNSURF Melbourne will host an exclusive experience for an intimate group of delegates as part of the Asia Pacific Incentives and Meetings Event (AIME) Uncover Melbourne program.

The visit, managed by the Melbourne Convention Bureau (of which URBNSURF is a member), will see delegates travel to Australia's first surf park and new experience destination at Melbourne Airport, just 16 kilometres north of the Melbourne CBD.

Designed to challenge expectations and reveal a whole new perspective that appeals to the next generation of event buyers and planners, guests will be greeted by the URBNSURF team before receiving an exclusive, behind the scenes tour of the $30 million surf park, before

URBNSURF’s wave generator, Roary, creates perfect waves for guests to learn to surf, or enjoy a “freesurfing” session, before enjoying delicious food and beverages on site.

URBNSURF’s Learn To Surf experience will be led by the park’s team of friendly, expert coaches, who will teach guests surfing etiquette, stretching, paddling, how to pop-up, take-off and dismount prior to entering the water. The 30-minute lesson preparation will equip

guests with the skills (and confidence) required to get up, riding and stoked within 1 hour of in-the-water surfing time, before cooling down and discussing next steps, post-lesson.

URBNSURF’s Play In The Bays experience will offer guests safe, gentle, rolling whitewater waves as part of a 1 hour “freesurfing” session, perfect for beginners of all ages wanting to have fun on a softboard or bodyboard, and practice their surfing skills.

An exclusive wine tasting menu and lunch, prepared by Showtime Event Group, will follow - served to guests on The Lawns overlooking the 2-hectare, crystal-clear surfing lagoon.

“The team behind URBNSURF Melbourne is stoked to be pioneering new and inclusive ways to surf by delivering perfect waves in a safe, controlled environment, customised to suit to all abilities – from gentle, rolling whitewater for learners and beginners through to steep, barrelling waves that will challenge even the most experienced riders. We look forward to showcasing the incredible and unforgettable experiences that our venue has on offer” said Andrew Ross, URBNSURF’s Founder and Director.

To complete the visit, guests will be invited to explore the rest of the park and its amenities, including bookable event spaces, Surf Rental centre offering the latest boards, wetsuits and surf hardware for hire, Surf Academy and training centre, on-site surf shop and retail store Lagoon Supply Co., and lagoonside features include hot tubs, day beds, kids playground, and outdoor landscaped spaces to relax and take in the views.

A licensed café and restaurant, Three Blue Ducks Melbourne, led by renowned chefs Andy Allen, Mark Labrooy and Darren Robertson, will also open at the park in Autumn 2020.

Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, along with a variety of takeaway options, Three Blue Ducks Melbourne will be open to the public and park guests year-round.

Don’t miss out on your chance to experience perfect surfing conditions in a safe, controlled environment at Australia’s new surf park, URBNSURF Melbourne. For more details, visit

37 and a bit years I waited to go to Australia. As someone who is sport mad, friends of mine always questioned why I had never made it, and now I understand why. I must say that whilst at home watching the news about the bush fires, and with the more recent Corona Virus outbreak I was wondering whether my trip would go ahead, but having witnessed first hand the way in which the country is dealing with all of the above, why I ever questioned it seems silly in hindsight. 

For those who have never been, or more importantly those who may have been put off going in the near future by recent mainstream media coverage of the bush fires or corona virus outbreak, allow me to dispel a few myths. Firstly, not all of Australia was on fire. Despite mainstream media coverage showing only the worst of everything (sounds familiar right), including the Sydney Opera House in a deep red haze caused by the smoke and tennis players struggling to breathe at The Australia Open, only 5% of Australia was ever on fire during the bush fires and the effects were very short lived. As a country that is basically a continent in its own right, that’s not a huge amount of space. Now that is not to say that the fires haven’t been devastating, of course they have, but nowhere near as devastating as we would be led to believe. Never let the truth get in the way of a good story right? You can read more on how the Australian Government has reacted to the fires in brilliant fashion here….

The corona virus was possibly more of a distraction from a show perspective, with the Chinese market being a huge source of income into the Australian market, and with Chinese buyers and exhibitors no longer able to attend the show. In reality the Chinese contingent accounted for roughly 5% of buyers and only a few exhibitors and so both the show owners, Melbourne Convention Bureau and organisers, Talk 2 Media, plus exhibitors and attendees were able to experience a brilliant show with fantastic numbers and a brilliant feel. Across the entire show, from networking events to the entire show floor experience, there was a real feeling of everyone pulling together through slight adversity to make the show work for everyone and it created a brilliant feeling for all involved. 

Peter King, CEO of Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre talked to me about the Corona Virus and the ripple effect it will have on the industry moving forwards. People only think about the immediate impacts of such an outbreak and its affect on the industry. Shows being cancelled or postponed and the effect that has on the organisers, venues and exhibitors , but in reality the problems are far wider reaching. TEC will be running a piece with Peter and others on on this subject over the coming weeks that will address the wider reaching problems created by such episodes, and what, if anything we can do to protect ourselves as an industry. 

From the AIME Welcome party, brilliantly produced by Showtime Events at the beautifully restored Victoria State Library to the AIME Beach Party at The Yacht Club via trips to Melbourne Zoo, The MCG and URBNSURF, the most amazing purpose built surfing experience, everything was organised with even the finest of details in mind. Nothing was left to chance. You get the feeling that this is an Australian trait. Being in a country where everything is designed to kill you, if you leave things to chance, it might not end well and this might be why Aussies seem to be so detailed in their organisation and planning. The food, drink and overall experience at every turn was second to none that I have experienced anywhere in the world, and only adds to the special feel that you get as a business or leisure based visitor. 

The lifestyle is relaxed, and everyone seems to have a happy disposition. There is obviously a more outdoor based lifestyle which is helped by the climate meaning people are more encouraged to exercise than if you live in a more inclement climate. Having said that, I was warned about Melbourne sometimes seeing 4 seasons in a day and the weather duly obliged. In 4 days I saw days with cloudless skies, hailstones the size of golf balls, strong winds and warm rain. Regardless, it all added to the wonderful experience. 

The show floor was a buzzing hive of activity, with exhibitors and buyers networking across two brilliant show days. The show was never boring, there were no lulls in vibrancy on the floor or “flat” periods. A big part of this in my view is down to the way in which the days are structured. There is a lot to be taken from the mid session networking breaks which give buyers and exhibitors a period in which to collect their thoughts and catch up. Talking to Matt Pearce, CEO of show organiser Talk2Media, this was originally seen as a risk, the worry being that people may lose focus. As it turns out, it sees the entire floor refresh itself with another surge of energy passing across the entire floor. 

I asked AIME Event Director Jay Martens what he would love the show to be recognised by, or become known for. Having taken on the show from Reed two years ago, and having decided to run the show in a very different way, there are some key attributes Jay, and Talk2Media want to see the show become synonymous with. 

A personalised experience for all buyers and exhibitors

Creating an experience that people remember, not just for a few weeks but throughout the entire year of the show cycle

Proper connections created on the show floor that last, not fly by night connections

A proper advocate of the region it represents

These are the desires of all organisers I have ever met when talking about their shows, however there are two other aspirations Jay has that I have never heard anyone talk about before in such terms. 

Jay wants the show to become a “Platform of Inspiration” and the “First Grand Slam of Business”. There is great potential synergy between AIME and the idea of the grand slam. With Melbourne hosting the first tennis grand slam of the year only a few weeks before the show, part of the battle is won. Mix that with the close relationship with the Melbourne Convention Bureau as the shows owner, and real possibilities start to become apparent. The way in which the show runs makes the desire to become a platform of inspiration achievable. Then remember that for the last few days of the Australian Open, the entire tournament was rebranded to “Australia IS Open”.

From conversations had with attendee buyers and suppliers alike, these two dreams may well become reality. 

AIME doesn’t look like a “typical” trade show. Forget traditional shell scheme, with surly salesmen on their phones in grey boxes, unengaged with the show and the audience, unwilling to engage with people unless they approach them first, and in some cases even then. AIME exudes a feeling of positivity from all involved. “Shell scheme” stands are equally sized and open, colourful and inviting. Those on them engaging because the show gives them a positive experience through the look and feel of their stands and through the committed nature of the buyers in attendance. 

As the owners of the show, the opinion of the Melbourne Convention Bureau, and more importantly CEO Julia Swanston is of huge importance to Talk2Media, and from the discussions I had with Julia on Wednesday afternoon as the show drew to a close, they will only receive positive feedback. The acknowledgement of an industry pulling together to ensure a brilliant show was the common belief between us. Creating new connections between buyers and suppliers to facilitate business opportunities that will last for years to come is what AIME looks to do. From my experience they’re doing exactly that in a way that is forward thinking and refreshingly different.

In summary, Australia as a destination is well and truly open for business. If you haven’t been you really should. I can’t wait to go back and see the great connections I made in 4 fantastic days in Melbourne. Buyers from all over the world should visit AIME. From a UK and European perspective, it gives great insight into the APAC region and offers opportunities to engage with potential partners that we otherwise would not have easy access to. Thanks to Talk2Media, Melbourne Convention Bureau and Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre.

Thousands of tourism buyers and exhibitors from across the world have descended on Melbourne for the Asia Pacific Incentives and Meetings Event (AIME).

Providing a platform for future trade and investment for Victoria and other destinations, AIME was officially opened today by Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events Martin Pakula. Staged annually at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) and owned by the Melbourne Convention Bureau (MCB), AIME brings together buyers and exhibitors to connect, create and do business.

About 3,000 suppliers and events planners will gather for three days of business, networking and education, making AIME the leading trade event for the business events industry in the Asia Pacific region. In addition to driving trade and investment opportunities, business events are a significant contributor to the Victorian tourism industry, generating direct expenditure of $11.2 billion and supporting more than 71,000 jobs.

Victoria’s lead agency in acquiring and delivering business events, MCB secured more than $500 million in business events for Victoria last financial year. Pre and post-conference touring options are also becoming increasingly popular, with four in every 10 international delegates visiting regional Victoria on their business trip.

Harnessing the benefits that business events can deliver in terms of growth and visitation, the Andrews Labor Government recently launched the ‘Business & Sport for Bushfire Recovery’ initiative which will see more than 220 major organisations hold multi-day events and conferences in bushfire-affected areas.

Martin Pakula, Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events said “Conferences are a vital part of Victoria’s visitor economy, bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars each year and helping to build our global profile. AIME provides a double benefit, serving up an immediate boost to the economy while providing a platform to showcase our undeniable claim as a top-tier event destination.” He was further backed up in his views by Julia Swanston, CEO of The Melbourne Convention Bureau who said “Melbourne has hosted AIME for close to three decades and the benefits for the state are clear to see. AIME supports Melbourne’s standing as a world-leading destination for business events, and creates new and valuable connections to make that sure we continue to innovate and move ahead.”

Matt Pearce opened the knowledge sessions by acknowledging the recent bush fires and corona virus outbreak to the large crowd that had assembled for the morning session of the AIME Knowledge sharing  day. With over 500 registrations to the two knowledge sessions for both morning and afternoon, there has been a large increase in the number of parties interested in the pre show programs which is a key win for the organisers.

Despite recent events with both the bush fires, and corona virus, the organisers of AIME were determined to ensure the show went ahead. There were of course the inevitable questions that would haver been raised internally during the last few weeks but the message to all was that a show of strength was what in fact was needed from both the organisers, and Australia as a whole. In fact, the misconceptions outside Australia about the devastation caused by the bush fires is something that the government and events community are keen to straighten out. 

The determination was always that the show would go ahead, a showing of great strength from the events community here with the very clear message of “Australia is open and Australia is safe”. Something that Australia prides itself on is the way they protect their own. One of the key things you learn about Australia is their absolute determination to keep anything potentially harmful to the country from entering the eco system. Some may think it’s an over the top measure but you quickly realise it’s a very efficient way of helping a country to protect itself from potential harm. Whilst at AIME I was talking to an Australian colleague who explained the hefty fines in line with taking even the most basic of perishables across even state lines. Two bananas crossing from Victoria into South Australia will cost you a hefty fine regardless of whether your two kids will get hungry along the journey or not. The absolute protection of their own eco system is admirable, things are not left to chance. 

The Hon. Martin Pakula, Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events followed Matt by ensuring all in attendance knew the governments commitment to the leisure and tourism industry during these difficult times. There is a real sense of togetherness from the entire country. The Aussies are a tough old bunch, you see that from how they play their sport, and that steely determination is the attitude being shown in the face of adversity brought about by both the bush fires and the Corona Virus. 

The incredibly impressive Holly Ransom then took to the stage as the keynote speaker. Very few more well read people are you ever likely to meet. When you look at her Linkedin page and see that she has interviewed the likes of Barack Obama and Condoleezza Rice, you realise this is a lady who knows her chips. Currently at Harvard completing her studies, this twenty something really is one to watch. The subject matter was connectivity and adapting how we do things in a hyper connected world to create successful teams.

By breaking down how high performing teams operate shows us how forward thinking, and not being stuck in the age old ways of working are of most benefit. Knowledge sharing and learning that it’s okay to be vulnerable in a trusting group all sound like easy things, and there will be people reading this thinking “my team do that”. Your team may be high performing within your own business, but relatively compared to those teams being discussed in this session it’s incredibly unlikely they compare. I’m pretty sure I don’t know anyone from The All Blacks, The Mercedes F1 team or Google’s senior management team so as much as you might have high performing teams, you don’t do it like these guys. 

Very few people have the willingness to push themselves and their teams as far as is required to reach these levels of performance. Everyone has to be fully bought into the concept long term to even think about becoming a properly high performing unit. It’s not a fad diet or a gym membership that lasts a month before you get bored. This takes proper commitment to personal and team growth and betterment. 

5 key dynamics that all companies can learn from when thinking about how to increase effectiveness of staff through improving team environments are below. These are the key deliverables that set world class teams apart according to research. This is something that not only our industry, but all industries can learn from. 

  1. Psychological Safety - Able to take risks and feeling able to be vunerable in front of each other
  2. Dependability - Get things done on time and meet high bar for excellence
  3. Structure & Clarity - Clear roles, plans and goals
  4. Meaning - Work is personally important
  5. Impact - Team members think their work matters and creates change

We have all before worked in businesses that demand the above from their teams but without the resources to ensure their colleagues feel comfortable. It is evident that happy colleagues are more productive colleagues, translating into more high performing colleagues. Which leadership team wouldn’t want to see that from their business? But that means changing things from a leadership perspective. Are you brave enough to do that?