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Mice Net : June 2009
regional victoria Like any good team, the business events sector is working together, defending its territory, while seizing any opportunity to gain ground against the opposition. And so major venues in the region, which stretches across five council areas from Werribee south along the surf coast through Geelong and Lorne along the Great Ocean Road to the state’s far west, are working together to win business meetings and events using an online booking portal with live rates. Adding further focus to its push for more of the business tourism dollar, the Geelong Otway region this year renamed its bureau ‘Business Events Geelong’. Andrew Hiebl is its business events coordinator and he says the changes have already produced results. The online meetings booking system launched at AIME this year has already delivered six corporate bookings for regional events for 25 to 100 delegates at short notice. “We had anticipated that most online demand would be for event bookings with lead times of less than six months, but now there are live rates online for up to 12 months out. The more complicated corporate and association requests still come through the bureau and once we have assessed the most suitable suppliers to meet the stated needs, we use the same online system to request quotes from our members.” Naturally as the region enters its quieter winter months, venues are very keen to maintain their meetings business. “So the rates now available on the site are live special rates allowing conference organisers and in-house meeting planners to find and immediately book accommodation and meeting space, or take advantage of last minute cancellations.” Promoting the region’s ‘Hot Deals in 09’ the bureau looks to GFC - only in geelong E 112 mice.net one meaninG choing the success of the Cats football franchise atop the AFL ladder is the region’s business events sector which is defying any downturn. Around VictoriA’s lArgest regional city, geelong, the only thing gFc stands for is a 150 yearold sporting tradition, virtually a religion and a far cry from any financial crisis. STORy By Graeme Kemlo gain national attention for special event rates such as residential meetings packages available through to August and September from $155 to $294 at a range of properties including Mantra Erskine Resort Lorne, Hawthorn Suites at 13th Beach Barwon Heads, Four Points by Sheraton Geelong, Crowne Plaza Torquay and Peppers The Sands Torquay. Mercure Geelong and Geelong Conference Centre have day-delegate rates from $55 per delegate including morning and afternoon teas, lunch and room hire. “We think that the portal gives us an advantage as a region and the results through April 2009 show we’re holding steady despite the downturn,” Andrew said. He said some planners who came to the bureau with little idea of their budget were able to quickly go online and assess likely costs. Asked about the latest trends in the MICE market, Andrew said corporates were still holding face-to-face meetings despite suggestions video conferencing would be substituted. “We notice some planners are reluctant to stage an event further than one hour from the CBD and we also see locally-based corporates and associations now prefer to meet in Victoria rather than go interstate… among recent inquiries like this, we expect to win a medical conference away from the Gold Coast,” he said. He said the city continued its push for government funding for a regional convention and exhibition centre on the Geelong Waterfront, an area which will shortly see more than 1000 people gather for a dinner to celebrate the Geelong Football Club’s 150th anniversary. GFC is also currently spending $30 million on a new stadium to seat 30,000 that will also offer function rooms for up to 300, 50 corporate boxes and executive hospitality suites, due to open next year. At the gateway to the region the privately-operated Avalon airport ABOVE: Shark Teeth, Eastern Beach, Geelong. Photo courtesy of Ken Stepnell. Tourism Victoria.