International association conferences hosted in Melbourne are supporting jobs and business growth far beyond the traditional tourism and hospitality sectors.
New research from the Melbourne Convention Bureau (MCB) shows that international association conferences are delivering a significant economic boost to Victoria and support a broader range of businesses than once thought.
"Each international association conference delivers an average $4.9 million to the Victorian economy from conference organiser spend, based on our most recent survey of nine international association conferences," said MCB Chief Executive Officer Karen Bolinger.
"This is ‘new money' that would not have come into Victoria had these conferences not been hosted here and is spent on businesses that supply a diverse range of services including venue hire, catering, printing, exhibition set up, audio visual, training, marketing, financial, legal and accounting."
MCB's latest research, the Melbourne Conference Expenditure Study 2015, shows that the $4.9 million is in addition to international conference delegate expenditure of more than $5,500 per person per trip.
"Last financial year, Melbourne hosted 33 international association conferences, secured by MCB, contributing $212.7 million to Victoria's economy and supporting more than 2,550 jobs." Ms Bolinger said.
The average economic contribution per international association conference last financial year was $6.4 million.
"MCB attracts an average of 190 business events annually to Melbourne and international association conferences make up 17% of these. Significantly, international association conferences deliver 57% of the total economic value from these business events over a typical 12 month period."
MCB has taken a deep dive into the data, segmenting it by industry sector. It is the first convention bureau to adopt this approach, which highlights that medical and health conferences are the most lucrative for Victoria in terms of conference organiser spend and also daily expenditure by conference delegates. Melbourne hosts an average of 41% of all medical and science conferences held in Australia (International Congress & Convention Association figure).
This supports MCB's continued focus on attracting large international health and medical conferences to Melbourne.
In 2014/15 more than 63% of the $212.7m economic contribution was delivered by medical and health sector international association conferences hosted in Melbourne. The 20th International AIDS Conference in July 2014 attracted more than 11,700 delegates, and was a significant contribution.
"International conference delegates are high-spending visitors to Victoria. Our new research adds conference organiser spend into the mix to paint a compelling picture of the broader importance of international association conferences to a wide range of businesses that may not be directly connected with the event industry, and that's great news for the economy," Ms Bolinger said.
Kate Smith, Managing Director of WALDRONSMITH Management, understands first-hand the flow of conference organiser expenditure into a range of sectors.
"As a conference, exhibition and association management company we use specialists across the spectrum of professional services to bring about our clients' success. It may surprise people outside our industry how many elements need to come together to create and deliver a successful conference.
"We rely on a broad range of suppliers from venues, IT specialists, production companies, caterers, exhibition companies, graphic designers, printers, accountants, photographers, insurance companies, security, transportation, cleaning services and freight specialists to bring everything together in one seamless event. So, undoubtedly international association conference dollars do flow into so many areas."
Ms Bolinger said: "Business events is the only sector of the tourism industry that provides a long-term pipeline of confirmed future business, allowing the State Government, tourism and knowledge industry sectors to plan well in advance to maximise the economic benefits and promote Victoria as ‘open for business'.
"This research shows that while business event attendees may not be as visible as those attending a major event, they make a significant contribution to Victoria, not just economically, but by profiling Melbourne globally, bringing world leaders to Melbourne for best practice and knowledge exchange, celebrating breakthroughs, providing trade and investment opportunities and creating legacies."
The study is available for download here
About the research
Conferences, meetings and incentives are collectively known as business events. The Melbourne Conference Expenditure Study 2015 is based on a survey of nine international association conference organisers across the medical, health, engineering, science and business sectors. Conferences were held between 2013 and 2015.
It uses new methodology - the Major Events Evaluation Methodology and Process guidelines - that enables MCB to capture new money entering Victoria from three sources:
1. Expenditure by international delegates who came to Victoria to attend a conference.
2. Expenditure by interstate delegates who came to Victoria for a conference. Victorian delegate expenditure is not considered new money to Victoria and is excluded.
3. Conference and event organiser expenditure. This is in contrast to MCB's previous methodology (to 30 June 2015) where event organiser expenditure was not captured.
All values have been CPI adjusted to reflect 2015 values.