Sydney: The long-term impact of international conferences

International conferences and symposia do more than boost tourism and fuel immediate economic gain for the destination cities, they are drivers for long term-rewards in global innovation, collaboration and sector development. Business Events Sydney (BESydney) is leading industry research into how conferences are a catalyst for thriving economies and an enabler for social change.

Words Fiona Pearce

Since 2010, one of Australia’s leading convention bureaus, BESydney has partnered with the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) to produce a series of leading reports that identify the social legacies of business events. Their findings reveal a strong correlation between face-to-face collaboration and the growth of the global ‘knowledge economy’ – vital to government, associations and communities alike.

The first industry study released by BESydney in 2011, Beyond Tourism Benefits: measuring the social legacies of business events documented the broad and long-lasting legacies of five international congresses held in Sydney, Australia between 2009 and 2011.

The study surveyed 1,090 attendees including delegates, sponsors, exhibitors and members of the organising committee. Over 90 per cent of respondents reported the congresses facilitated the sharing of new knowledge, ideas, techniques, materials, and technologies by providing local educators, practitioners and researchers with access to a network of international colleagues. This networking gave delegates an avenue for new business and research collaborations, which in turn generate innovation, ideas and research agendas for many years to come.

“Our aim is not only to ensure business tourism, but also to ensure significant value is delivered to the State, and the Nation, in areas such as attraction of global talent, opportunities for international trade and investment, and international collaboration,” says BESydney CEO, Lyn Lewis-Smith.

New research by BESydney further demonstrates that business events, including international conferences and symposia, offer delegates unrestricted exposure to innovative ideas and opportunities to develop new knowledge and skills. Part of the Beyond Tourism Benefits series, this recent study with UTS – Conferences: catalysts for thriving economies – also supported that these face-to-face networking opportunities can spark global collaboration, which in turn can progress into new products and services.

“Our research released in September, Conferences: Catalysts for thriving economies, tells us the impact of holding business events in a city; for example we know that 76 per cent of attendees have stated that conferences have supported the development of global research and collaboration; while 83 per cent have said that conferences have enabled the local sector to showcase its expertise to a global audience,” says Ms Lewis-Smith.

“Conferences: catalysts for thriving economies evaluates the longer-term impacts that are enjoyed by industries, governments and communities when a business event is held,” adds Ms Lewis-Smith. “Our series of studies confirms the immense value that is generated from multiple face-to-face interactions – interactions in which delegates co-create value together.

“Business events mobilise exchanges and collaborations that form the foundation of innovation, economic development and societal change – all catalysts for a thriving economy and prosperous community,” she says.

The report concludes that there are four main dimensions to the legacy of business events, and each dimension comprises specific elements that contribute the real value of business events to communities: innovation, collaboration, sector development and the attraction of global talent.

More info on www.businesseventssydney.com.au

Read the rest of Sydney’s story in Boardroom Launch Issue – out in March.

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