1990s: Sydney making smart noise
Following the highs and lows of the 1980s, the 90s was a decade of major change. The world was rocked by the death of Princess Diana, Apple launched the first iMac computer, igniting a rate of digital innovation that would redefine the world, the Gulf War erupted and Operation Desert Storm was the first war televised around the world and around the clock. The gap between London and Paris shrunk as they connected via the Eurostar, and the Spice Girls blasted onto the world stage becoming one of the world’s most successful all-girl pop bands. And for the first time, the impact of rapid economic development on the Earth’s environment was recognised at the inaugural international Earth Summit.
Australia continued to rise in popularity on the world stage, and Sydney was gaining an international reputation as one of the best cities in the world – culminating in the announcement of Sydney as host of the 2000 Olympic Games – Sydney’s greatest bid win.
For the Bureau – it was time to take Sydney’s smarts to the world.
Sydney makes its mark on the world stage
Sydney began to assert its position as one of the world’s most desirable destinations – for tourism and business. 36 international airlines serviced flights to Sydney and the city received an array of accolades - voted ‘World’s Best City’ by the prestigious Conde Nast Traveller; and in 1997, the Number 1 Convention City in the world by the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) – having attracted more meetings than any other city.
The Bureau’s efforts the previous decade came to fruition, starting in 1991 when Sydney welcomed its largest international meeting to date – the World Congress of Gastroenterology, hosting 6500 delegates and 1200 exhibitors.
With global health challenges on the rise, Sydney hosted two of the world’s largest medical meetings: the 19th Congress of Dermatology and the 20th Congress of the International Society of Chemotherapy – further positioning Sydney as a city of global thought leaders and gamechangers.
Sowing the seeds of innovation
While the Bureau continued to win ever more meetings throughout the 90s, the team began to focus on deepening their understanding of the customer and tapped into local university research expertise to ‘up the ante’ in the global meetings industry.
In what would be the first of a series of trailblazing research pieces, in 1995 the Bureau released its delegate study which, for the first time, measured the true value to the city and State of attracting and hosting global meetings.
Over the coming decades, the Bureau’s vision and innovative approach to understanding the behaviour and needs of clients and delegates, would become industry standard.
Sydney’s coming of digital age
In the early 90s the World Wide Web became publicly available - a new technology which would fundamentally change the world as we knew it. The Bureau realised to continue to be competitive and elevate Sydney’s prominence on the global stage from its position ‘Down Under’, it would need to hit the internet. So it was that the Sydney Convention & Visitors Bureau (SCVB) launched its first website in 1996.
Entering Y2K on a high
By the end of the decade, the SCVB was enjoying a bid win rate of 59%. The culmination of the successes of the 90s saw the Bureau securing $1.27 billion worth of business for Sydney and the state of New South Wales.
But success didn’t just lie in dollars and cents; it lay in the impact the Bureau had made in raising the profile of the city to previously unimagined levels. Entering the new century, the Bureau and Sydney were ready to take the world by storm.