A recent visitor to Adelaide, who hadn’t been to the city in a dozen years, marvelled at its transformation. Not quite as crowded and busy like the major state capitals Melbourne and Sydney, the streets of Adelaide nevertheless are alive with positive energy and the air is charged with serene optimism.
“There are certainly more things to see and do in the city,” says Tan Beng Kheng, operation and sales support senior manager at Corporate Incentive Travel Planners based in Malaysia. “As recent as 12 years ago, Adelaide was a quiet and laid-back city. There were not a lot of office and commercial buildings, and the shopping choices seemed limited. All these have changed in such a short time.”
Tan was part of the Malaysian contingent of hosted buyers who came for the annual Destination SA – Adelaide’s Business Events Exchange held in August.
As companies planning outbound trips started looking for other destination options within Australia, places like Adelaide picked the right moment to boost and fortify its business events offerings to put itself in strong contention – and its efforts are now bearing fruit.
For the recently completed fiscal year 2009/2010, the Adelaide Convention Bureau (ACB) recorded results that exceeded all targets. Total bed nights for the 12 months reached 152,000, five per cent above target and a growth of 12 per cent over the previous year. Moreover, business events contributed A$104 .1 million (US$102.1 million) to the coffers of Adelaide and South Australia. Based on ACB’s calculation, international business accounted for 42 per cent of the economic impact, a big jump from 12 per cent recorded a year before.
“These figures are exceptional, particularly in light of the economic downturn throughout the world. We know many destinations, organisations and destination management companies (DMCs) have reported their figures will be down on both budget and the previous years,” says Damien Kitto, ACB chief executive. “We’re more proud of our international event win results. One of our KPIs this year was to focus on increasing international events. Looking at the results, clearly the strategy we put in place and the tactics used to deliver upon it were absolutely the correct ones to employ.”
Eight international bids have been won in 2009/2010, an increase of 60 per cent from the figure a year ago. These upcoming events include the 19th Biennial Congress of the Association of Enterostomal Therapists in May 2012 with 1,000 delegates and the World Aquaculture Congress in June 2014 with 3,000 delegates.
A city being rejuvenated
Aware that it needs to keep its upswing momentum, the city is currently undergoing a massive rejuvenation project of the Riverbank precinct estimated to cost between A$4 billion (US$3.09 billion) and A$5 billion (US$4.9 billion), including the redevelopment of the Adelaide Oval, the expansion of the Adelaide Convention Centre (ACC) and the construction of the Royal Adelaide Hospital and snearby Research Institute, among others.
The Adelaide Oval redevelopment will have a number of features which are unique in stadium design. These include barbecue decks, outdoor hospitality facilities on the Village Green and standing room on the grassed northern mounds. There will also be unique views from the dining rooms into the stadium and out to the parklands, the cathedral and the city. The proposed design will include more than 2,000 dining spaces as well as hospitality suites, open boxes, open bars and food courts.
“There is a lot of money being spent in this area now. Within the next five to 10 years, this area will be totally transformed,” says Alec Gilbert, ACC chief executive whose own facility started with the first stage of its expansion in September.
The first stage will expand the existing facility westwards over the railway lines to link with Morphett Street bridge. Construction started in September for completion in time to host the World Aquaculture Conference in 2014.
Stage Two of the redevelopment will replace the existing Plenary Building (home of the first Convention Centre in Australia in 1987) with a multi-purpose, state-of-the-art facility with plenary capacity of up to 3,500 seats, and is scheduled for completion in 2017.
Gilbert is unfazed with the other developments in the area that will boost the city’s venue options for event organisers.
“We are very well positioned within the local market as being there upfront. I think there will be enough growth for everyone,” he says.
Keeping it real
Even with the rosy prospects of Adelaide and South Australia in the business events sector, ACB is not entertaining any illusions of grandeur.
“We are not the biggest destination and we do not have the most resources so we just had to work smartly and technically through our industry experts and ambassador programme to win international conventions,” Kitto says.
For corporate events and incentives, Kitto says ACB is targeting small groups between 10 and 20 people to medium-size groups between 150 and 250 people. In the short term, ACB has its eyes fixed on Southeast Asia, New Zealand and the eastern states of Australia as source markets of these business events segments.
“Southeast Asia is looking for new Australian destinations for incentives and conventions. For us, it is about delivering high-end and customised experiences. Big isn’t best as far as we are concerned.”
The Asian subregion is being targeted not only for its growing economic power but also because Southeast Asia has direct international connections to Adelaide with flights being served by Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines and Qantas Airways.
China is being targeted in the medium term, but already the newly launched Incentives Adelaide Programme is available in Chinese at the ACB’s website. Helping things along is Adelaide Airport Ltd which is working to get at least two Mainland China carriers to fly direct to the city.
“We are hoping to get more international flights because clearly we are very underserved for the size of the city,” says Phil Baker, managing director of Adelaide Airport Ltd. To date, direct international flights contribute only five per cent of the airport’s traffic. Majority of visitors fly to Adelaide via either Melbourne or Sydney.
The city’s airport is also undergoing its own expansion that would allow it to serve more wide-body aircraft and able to handle increasing passenger traffic.
As Adelaide’s star shines, the city is intent on creating its own niche.
“We position ourselves as a destination offering new Australian experiences. We are not trying to compete head on. We are unique and different,” Kitto of ACB says.
The Barossa Valley is a great incentive destination to choose for the quintessential South Australian wine and culinary experience, writes Gigi Onag
Renown for its wines, it was natural that hosted buyers attending the annual Destination SA event in early August were divided into small groups for an incentive familiarisation programme of the wineries and vineyards dotting regional South Australia.
I joined the group of events specialists from Malaysia and New Zealand who went to the Barossa Valley.
Adelaide city experience
Delegates participating in Destination SA, Adelaide’s Business Events Exchange, spent their first day in the state capital.
Within hours after landing at Adelaide International Airport, our group hopped onto the free city tram and alighted nearby at the 140-year old Adelaide Central Market on Gouger Street.
Local food expert, Mark Glesson, of CentralMarketTour.com.au was wonderful at steering us through this “mecca of multi-cultural cuisine and fresh food” and showing us some of its hidden gems. Our first stop was for a leisurely caffeine fix in one of the local cafes inside the market and then, we navigated our way through the market, stopping at several stalls to enjoy tastings of a range of cheeses, Russian pastries called piroshki, organic peanut butter and fresh oysters among others. Gourmands, who enjoy food from different parts of the world, can find – in the 80 stalls of the Adelaide Central Market – the ingredients they would need to recreate an authentic foreign dish. In essence, however, this must-see site displays the best of South Australia produce.
Gleeson says one variation of this tour is to include a cooking class and lunch that can be conducted in a facility above the market. The newly opened space has a state-of-the-art kitchen and can be leased for group events.
“After buying fresh local produce, the group can head upstairs for an Australian cooking lesson. Dining tables can be set up at the back of the room,” he adds.
We left the market and took the tram for lunch at The Sebel Playford on 120 North Terrace just across the Adelaide Convention Centre. We ordered entrees from a specially designed menu. With time to kill after the meal, we took a stroll and found ourselves browsing the high-end boutiques and buying chocolates at the original Haigh’s Chocolate store on Rundle Mall. Asian groups, who are known for their love of shopping as a post-event activity, are sure to welcome recent calls to declare the area a tourist zone to allow it to open on public holidays.
Meanwhile, the city’s layout is good for the heart and for the environment. From Rundle Mall, we traced our steps back to North Terrace and walked further to Morphett Street where JamFactory is located. JamFactory is a facility that provides training in the art and science of crafting objects made of glass, ceramics, wood and metal. We entered the glass studio via its streetfront store. We begun our two-hour session with an orientation on the dos and don’ts of glass making and then we were divided into groups of two. Each pair was assigned an artist-in-training to assist us in creating our own paperweight. Trying our hand in glass-making was truly a unique experience and helped us appreciate the effort in bringing a simple art glass object into being. We left our creations in the studio to be delivered to our hotel on our last day as a farewell gift.
After a quick shower and change at our hotel, off we went to Red Ochre Grill in North Adelaide for an evening of fine dining. Red Ochre Grill sits near the River Torrens and has fabulous river and city views. Serving contemporary Australian with a twist and more than a dash of Asian influence, exotic fare such as emu, crocodile and kangaroo are menu regulars. Though, these were not on our customised dinner that consisted of a choice of appetisers, fresh salad, barramundi, steak and tasting platter of mixed desserts (to die for). Of course, each item on the menu had its wine to match.
A taste of Barossa Valley
An hour-and-a-half after leaving Adelaide, we reached the home of Jacob’s Creek – the name that put South Australia and the Barossa Valley on the map of world-famous wines. First off was the Sensory Experience session at the Steingarten Room of the Jacob’s Creek Visitor Centre. More than the standard wine-tasting experience, this activity increases the group’s wine knowledge through sensory analysis. Lunch was served at the adjoining restaurant overlooking the vineyards and the Barossa Hills. Each of us also received a bottle of Shiraz with a personalised label.
This set the pace of our Barossa Valley experience, which primarily centred on the culinary and wine appreciation as well as an education in the rich history of its vineyards and wineries.
Sous chef, Alicia Stiesch, of Apellation at the high-end boutique lodge The Louise served a five-course dinner, including terrine of avocado with red pepper jelly; West coast pristine Oysters with fresh lime, pickled carrot and coriander; and a tasting plate of Waecheter’s duck featuring red gum smoked breast, liver parfait and rilletes.
The Louise, where we stayed for the night, also served a filling breakfast, served directly in our luxurious accommodation (which is perfect for high-level executive retreats). While we had to miss our early-morning hot air balloon experience due to bad weather, it gave us time to enjoy the in-room amenities.
Hentley Farm at Greenock Creek in Seppeltsfield is a boutique, single estate vineyard that has undergone major refurbishment in the last two years without losing its original charm and 18th-century flavour. We had our lunch on the second day in a restored barn, which has been converted into a venue flexible enough to cater to private corporate lunches and dinners. Home-cooked style Australian cuisine served on big platters added to the communal feel.
We also paid a visit to Langmeil Winery for a private tour of the estate, especially its 168-year-old Shiraz vines – the oldest surviving in the world. During the guided tour and cellar door tasting, we were given some valuable insider knowledge about growing vines and wine production process.
We also had a sneak peek of Barossa Valley accommodations from the rustic luxury of the Jacobs Creek Retreat at Moorooroo Park, an ancestral home transformed into a boutique lodge of seven suites, to the newly renovated 140-room Novotel Barossa Valley Resort. We left Barossa Valley with a deeper understanding of its rich culture – and a few ideas of how to spice up the itinerary from bike tours, helicopter rides to breakfast with the kangaroos.
Adelaide Convention Centre
Able to hold up to 3,500 people, the Plenary Hall of this multi-purpose venue has a tiered seating sections that can be raised or lowered individually to create either theatre-style seating or a flat floor for banquets and other large functions. It also offers 14 meeting rooms ideal for break-out sessions, intimate luncheons, dinners or cocktail gatherings for groups of 30 and 200 people. Guests are able to enjoy beautiful, uninterrupted garden and river views from the pre-function areas.
Adelaide Oval Function Centre
One of South Australia’s iconic venues – being one the most beautiful test cricket grounds in the world, Adelaide Oval can host as few as three people for a meeting to 500 people for a sit-down dinner. The corporate boxes and other venues have fabulous views of the cricket field. Events can be timed to coincide with the games and a guided tour of the Adelaide Oval can be arranged.
Built in 1890, this wine estate in the Barossa Valley is distinctive for the Old World facade of its château. Groups can enjoy individual barrel tastings. Indoor functions can be arranged in its Grand Ballroom for more than 450 guests and in its Long Room for 100 people. The outdoor garden is perfect for a round of croquet and cricket as well as a concert event for 4,000 people.
Jacob’s Creek Visitor Centre
Enjoy Barossa Valley’s most recognisable wine brand in its home turf. Jacob’s Creek Visitor Centre offers sweeping views of the vineyards and the hills of the Barossa Ranges. Lunches and gala dinners can be catered at the Jacob’s Restaurant for groups of 300 people and lower. A Sensory Experiences interactive workshop can be arranged for groups of 10 people or more at the Steingarten function room. Other activity options include a garden walk, a vineyard tour and a structured tasting session.
State Library of South Australia
Mortlock Chamber is a standout venue for its late-Victorian interiors, displaying the rich heritage of South Australia. It is ideal for as formal dinners, corporate receptions, cocktail parties and product launches and is available on two levels – the ground floor Main Chamber and the 1st floor Gallery. The Main Chamber can hold 300 people for cocktails and 200 for a sit-down dinner. The 1st floor Gallery is good for pre-dinner drinks for up to 75 guests.
2-day Kangaroo Island Programme
See kangaroos, koalas and native birds in their natural habitat; wander past wild Australia Sea-lions; lunch in style in a private bushland setting; and visit scenic natural landscapes such as Remarkable Rocks and Admiral Arch.
- Walk among the Australian Sea-lion at Seal Bay Conservation Park
- Explore Flinders Chase National Park
- See New Zealand fur seals at Admiral Arch
- Wander around Remarkable Rocks
- Visit Cape du Couedic Light Station
- Savour gourmet lunches in the bush
- Watch kangaroos and other native animals graze at Kelly Hill Conservation Park
- The package includes four-wheel drive touring, park entrance fees, special permits, sightseeing and commentary, lunch and local wine.
Cathay Pacific, Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Tiger Airways and Australian national carrier Qantas Airways fly direct to Adelaide. Domestic connections to and from other Australian destinations are affordable and frequent.
South Australia enjoys a Mediterranean climate with an average temperature of 15ºC mid-winter in July and 29ºC mid-summer in January.
All travellers, except those from New Zealand, need a visa to enter Australia. For people attending meetings and conferences, a business visa allows them to stay to up to three months. For details visit www.immi.gov.au
Adelaide Convention Bureau
Tel: +61 8 8237 0100
IN FRONT EVENTS AUSTRALIA
SEALINK TRAVEL GROUP