CEO Message: An extraordinary year
Well, it’s been a huge year. Unforgettable, though an ‘annus horribilis’ some may wish to forget. The pandemic has certainly presented us all with a number of challenges but I’m proud to say that the business events industry has responded with strength, resilience and innovation. Previous health crises tested us, and we learnt from them. We’ve had three years without a convention centre in Sydney. And whilst we’re not there yet, and the recovery is only just beginning, I do believe that our ability to adapt once again and embrace the new opportunities that have been created will see us come out of this stronger and ensure that our industry and organisation is not only sustainable, but will kick big goals next year.
What may have seemed impossible, can be done.
Despite the immediate and significant impacts of COVID-19, working with partners, BESydney has rescheduled 70% of meetings affected by COVID-19 to date into future years and has 86 global meetings and incentives confirmed for Sydney from 2021 to 2026, with close to $450 million in estimated direct expenditure. Despite the most challenging year on record for the industry, we have secured eight new global meetings since May for the city across health, science and infrastructure sectors and which will bring in more than 6,000 delegates for 22,000 delegate days.
Our two-tier strategy, with BESydney now targeting domestic business events in addition to our core focus on global meetings, is already generating outcomes for the city and state – and we look forward to the next phase of our ‘It’s got to be Sydney’ campaign creating more awareness and demand for the local meetings sector, particularly now with borders opening. Our campaign is focused on making life easier for event planners to choose Sydney and presenting opportunities for our supply chain and to this end, we’ve accelerated our digital transformation and built a two-way market platform that directly connects buyer and supplier.
With our external strategy clear, we’ve also taken the time to reflect on our modus operandi and launched into an agile way of working. Recognising the need to work more efficiently and the need to adopt behaviours and practices that best suit the new reality, the Executive team committed to introduce agile working methods across the organisation.
This transformation journey will really come to life in 2021. COVID-19 is redefining the next normal, and amongst the silver linings, it has provided a catalyst to reimagine our model for success. Going forward, teams of cross-functional, specialist talent will come together at BESydney and then re-form to address organisation and client needs, with total clarity on priorities and goals, nimble resource allocation, and fast, iterative feedback cycles. I’ve always been an advocate for doing things differently, and COVID-19 has certainly required leaders to respond with agility in regard to mindset, strategy and the fundamentals of how we work – and to ensure we build back better.
Through this time, hotels, venues and suppliers have also used the opportunity to reimagine and reinvent their offering to deliver even greater value to delegates. As restrictions continue to ease, we're ready, COVIDSafe and excited to welcome more business visitors back. Along with the rest of the world, I am watching with keen anticipation as the vaccine rolls out.
Hybrid aspects to meetings are here to stay, but our desire to meet face to face will overcome and I’m looking forward to continuing to connect people, ideas and knowledge from right across the world and drive economic, social and educational benefit for Sydney and NSW. We are a global knowledge-sharing hub and Sydney will continue to evolve as such to remain competitive as event volumes return.
This year has been extraordinary.
This time next year I’m looking forward to celebrating an extraordinary year of a different kind.