Sydney’s hottest new Chinese restaurant was the ideal choice for the second roundtable discussion that took place on January 31, coinciding with Chinese New Year.
The group watched a Chinese dragon stilt dance
A group of the event industry’s top people gathered together to discuss everything from AIME, famils, venue and catering innovation and tech trends over a 15 course meal prepared by one of the world’s top Chinese Chefs (top 50 in China).
China Republic delivered a 15 course modern Chinese meal
Held in the largest private dining room at China Republic in Sydney’s World Square, the key insights from the group discussion are as follows:
- You need to attend AIME with clear objectives to avoid getting lost in the crowd.
- It’s pointless to have a stand at AIME unless you’re willing to staff it with highly trained people.
- To get the most out of AIME, you need to run your own marketing campaign prior to the event. Don’t just rely on AIME’s marketing to do all the work for you.
- A lot of people choose not to be hosted buyers anymore because it’s generally quite cheap to get to Melbourne and they would rather manage their own time. People want the freedom to do their own thing.
- Exhibitors need to make sure they have enough time free to speak to independent visitors who are not in the hosted buyer program.
- Make sure you have something new to launch at AIME.
- A lot of Australian exhibitors have decided not to be part of the appointment schedule because they feel that they have strong enough relationships with key business partners that they don’t need to lock in appointments with hosted buyers.
- One resort group has just developed a standard operating procedure for both group and individual famils so that all famil participants receive a consistent experience and service level, regardless of who is hosting the famil or site inspection.
- Some countries need to improve their famil etiquette – ie knocking before entering guest rooms, making sure the hosts have the correct keys when they are doing a site inspection, etc.
- All people hosting famils or site inspections should be briefed on who is in the group and what the objective of their visit is.
- Famil groups need to be given more time in hotels/resorts to observe and experience the service and product.
- Famil itineraries shouldn’t be too jam-packed.
- Cultural sensitivities need to be observed – ie Chinese groups need to be served rice with all meals. Famil hosts need to understand cultural nuances.
- Northern Territory Convention Bureau is a stand-out famil host; they have an exceptional handle on logistics and are successful at providing a balanced itinerary that allows enough time to enjoy the destination.
- All famils should begin with a short educational including facts and figures about the destination, industry and product.
- All famil participants should be asked for feedback upon return.
- Sales and enquiry conversion from famils needs to be tracked as closely as possible.
Food and Beverage
- The key trend is locally sourced food that arrives on the plate as quickly as possible from the paddock or sea.
- Raw, rustic, organic and old-fashioned are key trends
- Healthy, fresh and nutritious are key trends
- Noone wants anything overdone or over-the-top.
- People want to know where the leftovers go. Venues need to communicate their food waste management procedures to both planners and guests.
- Free WiFI (up to a speed where it’s possible to at least check emails in-room) is now an expectation – ‘Offering free WiFi is like offering free oxygen’.
- A pet hate of many people in the industry is TOD charges (technician on duty) when it comes to AV or technical installation. It’s OK to pay a reasonable amount for TOD if you’re using the hotel’s equipment but if you’re bringing in all of your own crew and equipment, charging a TOD is considered unfair.
- There is an industry-wide call for standardisation of TOD charges.
- The new privacy laws that are coming out in March 2014 are of concern to event planners and therefore anything to do with data security needs to be addressed.
SPICE thanks all the round table participants and China Republic for hosting the event. If you would like to attend or host the next round table, please contact [email protected]