A Chinese banquet for over 2,000 people, an incentive event for 8,000 already done and dusted, and 500 future bookings secured. You could say things are going pretty well for the new International Convention Centre Sydney.
“It’s clear we’re making an impact,” says CEO Geoff Donaghy (pictured below).
Though the ICC (International Convention Centre) Sydney only opened in December, some early successes have pleased organisers and clients. Take the Amway China Leadership Seminar 2017 in January. It was the centre’s first-ever incentive event and it welcomed an astonishing 8,000-plus international delegates.
The local team had the daunting first-up challenge of hosting and catering for this huge audience, some of whom had little English.
They tackled it by planning carefuly, working closely with Amway China’s people to ensure no issue was left unresolved that might potentially cause problems when guests were on site.
Ultimately, over 13 days organisers used many of the spaces, including the 2,500-capacity Darling Harbour Theatre and the convention centre’s meeting rooms (for breakout sessions). Organisers cited great AV equipment, a 10 gigabits-per-second optical fibre backbone, the layout and organisers’ counsel as helping support a “seamless” experience.
The show also offered visitors the chance to explore the broader precinct, with The Hunger Games: The Exhibition and Brickman Wonders of the World Exhibition, held concurrently in the exhibition halls.
“We received terrific feedback on how proactive our team was in advising the best solutions for our venue as well as how responsive they were to changes from the client,” says Geoff.
The Darling Harbour Theatre, which is also a performance space, became the setting for big presentations while staff hosted the banquet in the grand ballroom, set in the convention centre itself.
Associate Director of AV and Events Production of Amway China Bert Li was happy. “Every event comes with its own opportunities and complexities,” he says, “and every detail here was anticipated and delivered to a five-star standard.”
Examples of attention to detail included bilingual signage throughout the venue from theatres and meeting rooms to toilets and lifts, and exclusive routes to ensure large groups could get to sessions quickly and easily. “The team was easy to deal with and quickly addressed our needs” adds Bert.
According to surveys afterwards, delegates especially appreciated the Chinese banquet. The feast kicked off with prawn and vegetable broth, then moved on to steamed barramundi with ginger and soya, steamed Asian greens, sweet and sour pork with tomato, pineapple and capsicum, braised lamb with stir-fried ginger and spring onions, bok choy, mushrooms, bean curd and fruit.
Delegates arrived in four groups. While in town they sampled Sydney’s attractions and hotels including Luna Park, Sydney BridgeClimb, Sheraton on the Park, The Star, Sydney Tower Restaurant, Captain Cook Cruises and the Opera House.
CEO of Business Events Sydney Lyn Lewis-Smith says it’s clear the centre will boost the city’s reputation as a business meeting destination. Moreover it will inject an estimated $5 billion into the New South Wales economy over the next 25 years.
“As the centrepiece of the AUD3.4 billion, 20-hectare transformation of Darling Harbour it’s generated huge interest from international organisations and played a significant role in Amway China’s decision to return to Sydney for a third time,” Lyn says.
“In the past decade we have seen 20% year-on-year growth from the lucrative Asian incentive market. The centre will drive this further and deliver major cultural and economic benefits.”
Does it represent value for money for events planners? Geoff Donaghy observes that ultimately clients will be the judge of this question. But so far, results speak for themselves. “We’re already receiving return bookings from clients who’ve held events over the past two months, and see this as a strong indication they’re happy with the venue and service.”