SPICE Issue 92 Autumn 2021

Page 1

Issue 92 – Autumn – 2021

TREND REPORT Four event experts weigh in HUNTER VALLEY Blending business with leisure


How industry leaders are navigating the road ahead

TFE Hotels

There’s no stopping the hotel group in 2021

SAVE THE DATE Thursday 15 July, 2021 Sydney Masonic Centre

Join us on a discovery of the best new ideas, innovative products and the coolest spaces for your next event.

eventsuncovered.com.au Brought to you by the team behind A LIST Guide and Spice




42 Autumn 2021


Going up, going down New & noteworthy Cover story: TFE Hotels




10 Trend forecast Four event experts share their predictions for the year ahead.

12 Hot Seat 2021 Our annual feature is back, putting industry leaders in the Hot Seat to reveal what’s in store for 2021.

32 Venue spotlight A round-up of the latest and greatest venues for in-person meetings and events.



42 Supplier stories Meet the event businesses taking a positive approach to the changing event scene.

50 Case study: TEDxSydney 2020 We go behind the scenes to find out how the famed event reinvented itself in the midst of the pandemic.




52 Hunter Valley, NSW Spice checks in to Château Élan for a regional discovery. spicenews.com.au  3

Editor’s letter

Onwards and upwards


Brittney Levinson Editor Executive Chairman Simon Grover Managing Director Paul Wootton pwootton@intermedia.com.au Editor Brittney Levinson

ith 2021 now well and truly underway, the events industry is getting back to business, albeit facing new challenges along the way. While the New Year didn’t quite start off the way we hoped it would – cue border closures, snap lockdowns and event cancellations – the business events industry never stops charging ahead. Our peak bodies continue to engage with the government Cover image: (L-R) Vibe Hotel Hobart general manager for industry support, while groups of industry professionals Hammond Cardon and are adding their voices to the plea, gathering data and head chef Matthew Griggs in Belvedere Restaurant demanding answers from government. The industry’s persistence and desire to rebuild is also clear in our annual Hot Seat feature, which puts leaders from venues, event companies and destinations in the spotlight to share predictions and plans for the year ahead. From page 12, these leaders reveal their positive, yet realistic, outlooks on what the future of events looks like in 2021 and beyond. Also in this issue, our venue spotlight feature (page 32) rounds up a series of event venues, from casual spaces through to expansive centres, each ready to host in-person events this year and beyond. In our supplier feature (page 42), we share four inspiring stories that showcase the creativity and determination that runs through the business events community. Event and brand agency INVNT share a behind-the-scenes look at how TEDxSydney 2020 was transformed into a successful online event, with an all-star speaker lineup and an interesting solution to increase interaction (page 50). Finally, we head to Hunter Valley in NSW to explore a region that’s full of stunning places to eat, sleep and meet (page 52). We hope you enjoy the issue.

blevinson@intermedia.com.au National Sales Team Katherine Ross, Charlotte Marshall Production Manager Jacqui Cooper jacqui@intermedia.com.au Production Assistant Natasha Jara njara@intermedia.com.au Graphic Designer Alyssa Coundouris Prepress Tony Willson Subscriptions

Spice Magazine Team Group sales and marketing manager Katherine Ross

Sales and marketing manager

Graphic designer

Charlotte Marshall

Alyssa Coundouris

+ 61 2 8586 6176

+61 2 8586 6216

+61 2 8586 6152




Visit SpiceNews.com.au for the latest industry news as it happens. Our twice-weekly updates cover venues, suppliers, destinations and technology, as well as inspiration and tips to help you plan stand-out events. @SpiceNews



Spice Magazine

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Spice Magazine is published by Food and Beverage Media Pty Ltd (ABN 81 163 792 292) 41 Bridge Road, Glebe NSW 2037 ph: 02 9660 2113, fax: 02 9660 4419 ISSN 1832-7176 4 Spice Autumn 2021

DISCLAIMER This publication is published by Food and Beverage Media Pty Ltd (the “Publisher”). Materials in this publication have been created by a variety of different entities and, to the extent permitted by law, the Publisher accepts no liability for materials created by others. All materials should be considered protected by Australian and international intellectual property laws. Unless you are authorised by law or the copyright owner to do so, you may not copy any of the materials. The mention of a product or service, person or company in this publication does not indicate the Publisher’s endorsement. The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily represent the opinion of the Publisher, its agents, company officers or employees. Any use of the information contained in this publication is at the sole risk of the person using that information. The user should make independent enquiries as to the accuracy of the information before relying on that information. All express or implied terms, conditions, warranties, statements, assurances and representations in relation to the Publisher, its publications and its services are expressly excluded save for those conditions and warranties which must be implied under the laws of any State of Australia or the provisions of Division 2 of Part V of the Trade Practices Act 1974 and any statutory modification or re-enactment thereof. To the extent permitted by law, the Publisher will not be liable for any damages including special, exemplary, punitive or consequential damages (including but not limited to economic loss or loss of profit or revenue or loss of opportunity) or indirect loss or damage of any kind arising in contract, tort or otherwise, even if advised of the possibility of such loss of profits or damages. While we use our best endeavours to ensure accuracy of the materials we create, to the extent permitted by law, the Publisher excludes all liability for loss resulting from any inaccuracies or false or misleading statements that may appear in this publication. Copyright © 2021 - Food and Beverage Media Pty Ltd.

Industry advocates A shout out to those campaigning for industry support, from peak bodies and industry leaders to the likes of Bill Shorten!

Twelve Apostles, Port Campbell National Park, VIC

Regional events Make 2021 the year of regional events, to help support Aussie destinations and to bring in-person events back to life.

At-table ordering Phones out at the table used to be rude; today it’s the norm. At-table ordering systems, where customers scan a QR code that takes them to the menu, are becoming more popular at bars and restaurants, winning big ticks for convenience and hygiene.

Luxe mini bars While some hotel chains are foregoing mini bars, others such as Hotel X Brisbane (pictured) are upping the ante and providing luxe food and beverage options sure to entice even the most seasoned traveller.

Going up, going down Safety-pinned name badges While they can be a

Business cards

pain, name badges

Is it just us, or are the days of

are often necessary at

business cards long gone, especially

business events. What’s

in today’s hyper-hygienic state?

not necessary is using

Instead, connect with contacts on

safety pins to affix them to

LinkedIn post-event or jot down

delegates – it ruins clothes

their email in your phone.

and looks cheap.

Elbow bumps I think we can all agree, ‘elbow bump’ greetings were funny for about five minutes when the pandemic first started. While handshakes are still off limits, opt for a meaningful smile instead.

spicenews.com.au  5


Opening: Next Hotels makes Melbourne debut

New + noteworthy

Next Hotel Melbourne opens its doors in March 2021, offering 255 residential-style guest rooms, alongside a sophisticated selection of bar and dining outlets. To prove that it’s serious about food and beverage, the property boasts an inhotel barrel ageing program for spirits and cocktails, taking the classic mini bar offering to new heights. Guests will also enjoy the hotel’s ‘Club’ offering, a loftstyle space for working and meeting.

InterContinental Hayman Island Resort Beach, QLD

A quick glance at some of the latest news, openings and insights. Product: Doltone House brings premium catering to you If the only option is virtual or hybrid, add a point of difference by delivering premium catering boxes to attendees’ homes or offices. Doltone House has launched a series of catering solutions for virtual events, from full conference boxes that include morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea, to antipasto platters for online networking. For even more interaction, their virtual activation experiences include pizza making kits, ‘PopFizz-Paint’ classes, gin tastings and cocktail masterclasses.

Research: Travellers willing to spend for responsible travel More than half of travellers (60 per cent) are looking for more environmentally and socially conscious travel in the wake of COVID-19, according to a global survey of 9,000 travellers conducted by IHG Hotels & Resorts. The research also revealed:

86% of Aussie adults are committed to their everyday sustainable habits when they travel Travellers will spend an average 31% more on accommodation that operates responsibly Post-pandemic, 58% of Aussie travellers will be more mindful of dining out and supporting local businesses

6 Spice Autumn 2021

Work, dine, play & stay at one of the Gold Coast’s premier multi-purpose destinations With a combined 14,000sqm of indoor and outdoor usable space, Southport Sharks can meet your event requirements. The facility includes a multi-purpose conference and events centre, 120-room Mantra hotel, 24/7 gym, and various bars & restaurants to host pre-functions or exclusive events. Our central location on the Gold Coast includes direct access from the M1 and is within walking distance to the Gold Coast light rail. Delivering world-class experiences, contact the Events Team today for a tailored package to suit your needs.


Corner Olsen & Musgrave Aves, Southport, 4215 (07) 5532 1155 *T&Cs apply. Images indicative only. COVID Safe Venue and practices are applied.

Cover story

WHEN BUSINESS BECOMES A PLEASURE TFE Hotels has unveiled a stellar line-up of MICE hotels for the year ahead.


s COVID-19 took hold and much of the world paused over the past 12 months, TFE Hotels hasn’t rested on its laurels. Instead, the Australian-based international hotel company has forged ahead with an ambitious pipeline including new-build hotels in Victoria, New South Wales, Canberra, Perth and New Zealand, alongside a smorgasbord of new restaurants including The Belvedere in Hobart, The Storehouse Subiaco in Perth, Kingi in Auckland, and a creative partnership with Maybe Sammy and Maurice Terzini in Sydney. When it comes to conferencing with TFE Hotels, here are our top new picks for 2021:

Adina Apartment Hotel Melbourne Southbank Lauded for its green-build credentials, floor-toceiling windows and architectural design, the

newly opened Adina Apartment Hotel Melbourne Southbank is turning heads as an alternative to staying in the bustling CBD. It offers light-filled meeting rooms – perfect for hybrid events – and spacious one- and two-bedroom suites (complete with kitchens and laundries) that offer views over the Yarra River and Southbank. What we love: This 220-room hotel not only has onsite parking but is super close to the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC).

A by Adina Canberra Opened in January 2021, the 132-room A by Adina Canberra, and centrepiece of the aptly named Constitution Place, raises the flag on an exciting new premium brand by TFE Hotels. Guaranteed to win the public vote on comfort, accessibility and style, the Bates Smart-designed hotel sets a remarkable precedent in providing a ‘hotel living’ experience on the doorstep of Canberra’s famed Parliamentary Triangle, Lake Burley Griffin, the National Convention Centre and a buzzing line-up of cultural landmarks. What we love: Whether travelling for business or leisure, this is Adina, but not as you know it. Expect an elevated and exclusive experience from the moment you arrive.

Vibe Hotel Melbourne

Above: Poolside at The Calile, Brisbane Right: Local produce on offer at Vibe Hotel Hobart

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Rooms with natural light and extraordinary views are standard at Vibe Hotel Melbourne. The hotel opened its doors in April 2020 and is within walking distance of everything Melbourne is famous for: art, culture, coffee, shopping, food, festivals, sport and events at MCEC.

Cover story

Reimagining Vibe Melbourne was nothing short of a labour of love, combining a mix of old-world charm and contemporary design in the rooms and conference spaces. The juxtaposition can be seen in the hotel’s sleek 24-storey glass-fronted tower that rises out of its heritage façade. What we love: Vibe Melbourne’s Terrace Suite, measuring 60 square metres, is a rare luxury for any high-rise hotel.

TFE is giving clients greater visibility of what happens behind the scenes to keep them safe through the independently audited Clean Touch Program and Charter. bit.ly/TFECleanTouch

Vibe Hotel Hobart The stunning Vibe Hotel Hobart feeds a growing global appetite for authentic experiential travel for work and for pleasure. Taking its cue from Tasmania’s natural beauty, rich history and global reputation as a deliciously pure and disarmingly avant-garde destination, the hotel represents Tasmania at every touch point. Head chef Matthew Griggs heads the team at Belvedere Restaurant, the conference spaces offer views of Hobart’s iconic waterfront and the rooms are spacious and well thought out. What we love: The hotel owners worked with local suppliers to ensure every design feature has a totally Tasmanian vibe.

The Calile, Brisbane Part of the Collection by TFE Hotels, The Calile combines memorable meeting and event spaces with leisure facilities and an enviable location in the heart of James Street. From the Grand Room, which can be divided into four smaller rooms, plus two private rooms for more intimate events, the multifunctional spaces cater to everything from small meetings to conventions. When business is done, retire to pastel-coloured hotel rooms with the most incredible block-out blinds or while away the hours by the iconic resort pool. What we love: While we can’t travel overseas this year, The Calile brings a very welcome dose of Palm Springs to Australia.

Vibe Hotel Rushcutters Bay Sydney When it comes to creatively bringing teams together, Vibe Rushcutters offers a fantastic range of healthy and fun wellness options that take full advantage of the Sydney lifestyle. Here, delegates can spend half

the day conferencing and the other half learning the ropes aboard a sailboat on Sydney Harbour. There’s yoga on the rooftop, the option to break out for a picnic or tai chi session in the park, or poolside cocktail events with healthy canapés on the side. What we love: The event spaces take advantage of the beautiful parkside location and easy proximity to the city and airport.

Top left: Private dining at Vibe Hotel Rushcutters Bay Sydney Top right: Event spaces at The Calile, Brisbane Above: Belvedere Restaurant at Vibe Hotel Hobart

Rendezvous Hotel Perth Scarborough For centuries, visiting the seaside was thought to be a panacea for every illness under the sun. So, when you combine your beach visit with business, you know you’re onto a winner. The Rendezvous Hotel, perched on the Scarborough Beach shoreline, is TFE’s go-to for large conference and incentive groups. There’s a day spa on site, executive chef Wendelin Ulrich turns out delicious dishes, and the hotel’s luscious pool area is perfect for break-out sessions. What we love: Those unbeatable Indian Ocean views from the hotel rooms and the fact that this hotel recycles everything from coffee beans to wastewater. Book a conference and reward yourself with TFE Hotels’ Events with Benefits program: bit.ly/EventsWithBenefits n spicenews.com.au  9


EVENT STYLING Emma Perry, director of styling at This Space, says stylists will be experimenting with playful, exuberant patterns in 2021. As an event stylist, it’s a pleasure to draw trends from different industries, such as interiors, wearable, travel and lifestyle. We explore these industries because we find they are what our clients are most immersed in, and after all, our clients are who we strive to delight and surprise. The trend I look forward to exploring in 2021 is a play on pattern: florals, patchworks, checks and stripes. Patterns may be mixed or pattern on mass. It will be a fun look that combines curved and straight lines with lots of opportunity to play with colours (which are set to be delicious sorbet pastel tones!). I look forward to printing an enlarged floral design for a stage backdrop and, equally, shrinking the print down to fit onto a vase, filled with fresh flowers – flowers on flowers! I can’t wait to bring together an entry feature of straight lines standing upright, flanking a plush, curved carpet, paired with centrepieces on patterned tablecloths. Pattern brings a lot of joy and is so versatile. Most people associate pattern with a ‘busy’ feel but in fact, it can be used to create a sleek, contemporary look, which I am excited to see in 2021.

2021 Trend report Four event experts weigh in on the trends set to shake up the event industry for good.

10 Spice Autumn 2021


EVENT MANAGEMENT The three types of events every company needs to be running in 2021, according to Jodie McLean, director of JEM events.

TECH & AV Here’s how events will look in 2021, according to AV1 managing director Keith Wootton. Prediction #1 Virtual events will continue to be relevant throughout 2021 because of their global reach. Through the use of all virtual platforms, organisers have seen their reach expand beyond borders. A Sydney-based physical conference for 500 is now reaching a global audience of thousands as an online event. This will lead to live events in 2021 having a hybrid component in order to continue to reach further and also facilitate international presenters who can't travel to Australia.

Prediction #2 Online event content will get shorter and sharper. Organisers have learned very quickly that you can't replicate a full two-day event with hour-long keynotes and 45-minute sessions. Content will become shorter and punchier, replacing PowerPoint with lots of interactivity and live(ly) group discussion. Pre-records out; full live engagement in.

Prediction #3 After a year of Zooming from home, the novelty has worn off. Whilst having positive effects on the bottom line, workplace culture is suffering. Would-be teams and delegates are craving physical connection and human engagement. In 2021, masked events can provide the solution – given the safe and orderly environment in which we as an industry operate.

We’re all glad to see the back of 2020, but the silver lining of the year from hell was the introduction of a new type of event – hello HYBRID. A beautiful marriage of the personal connection and intimacy that comes from small, in-person events, with the future-focus and instant connection that technology brings. For the risk averse and those keen to “get back out there”, you want to be sure that your time out of iso is well worth the gamble – enter, EXPERIENTIAL EVENTS. No longer are we going to risk our lives for just any ol’ event, so if you’re going to hold an event, you better make damn sure it is an experience to remember. Secret locations, blindfolds, surprise guests – providing a full experience will ensure guests keep coming back for more. And you can kiss standard “strategy days” goodbye. Corporates are no longer bound by nine to five, in four office walls, rather opting for a work-from-home balance with regular overnight TEAM RETREATS in local Aussie destinations. Events are absolutely not dead, but they, like the rest of the world, have pivoted, and now demand a certain elevation and out-of-the-box thinking that our industry will be better for.

FOOD AND BEVERAGE In 2021, catering will be healthier, more environmentally conscious and oh so Instagrammable, says Pomelo Catering owner Kaz Derbas. Trend #1: Stand-out catering Within the social event space, our customers are organising more intimate events with a slightly higher cost per head. With restrictions on dancing and entertainment now a factor, the food at events has become the showstopper. We’ve moved away from grazing tables for the moment and onto individually packaged COVID-safe boxes still presented in an ‘Instagrammable’ fashion.

Trend #2: Healthy options Within the corporate catering space we’ve noticed our customers are often seeking out

healthier options; our bento lunch boxes, green power salads and rice paper rolls are becoming some of the most popular choices. In keeping with this theme, events are often styled with native plants and flowers to suit a healthy living aesthetic.

Trend #3: Eco-friendly Many of our customers are asking for events to be styled in an eco-friendly fashion. This involves minimal wastage and packaging, as well as wooden cutlery and sugarcane plates becoming the norm at many corporate catering events. spicenews.com.au  11

The business events industry is a resilient group by nature, so it’s no surprise so many industry leaders have their eyes firmly on the road ahead, as they navigate their way through the sector’s recovery. In our annual Hot Seat feature, leaders from venues, destinations and peak bodies share their predictions, ideas and hopes for the year ahead.

HOT SEAT 2021 The road ahead

Sea Cliff Bridge, Clifton NSW

12 Spice Autumn 2021

Hot Seat

5 THINGS to consider when organising hybrid events

Ben Ogden, senior event manager at CWT Meetings & Events, shares his top tips for getting the best out of both worlds.

T “The content, agenda, speakers and interactions need to be engaging and relevant, more now than ever before.”

hroughout 2020, the world was inundated with Zoom meetings and virtual events to keep businesses operational, in between getting our fresh loaves of sourdough out of the oven, of course. So, what does 2021 have in store for corporate meetings and events? My guess is it’s going to be a big year for hybrid events. In Australia, we’ve been fortunate enough to keep our case numbers down and many industries are bouncing back as the economy recovers. The return of face-to-face meetings has been welcome news for many. However, travel restrictions and distancing requirements, which will likely continue for some time to come, mean all participants may not be able to attend in person. Hybrid events, which combine both virtual and in-person elements, allow organisers to reach a wider audience and get the best of both worlds. You can achieve high levels of engagement and create valuable networking opportunities that are only possible through face-to-face interactions. At the same time, having some attendees join virtually can mean lower costs, a smaller carbon footprint and compliance with health and safety requirements. If you’re looking to plan a hybrid event, here are five important things to consider:


Budgets: By limiting the number of people who attend in person, a hybrid format helps reduce travel costs to a certain extent. However, planners still need to factor in the costs of both the live elements like the venue, catering and audio visual requirements, as well as the digital elements such as the online platform, audio and cameras required to stream the event to the remote participants.


Production format and options: Consider the technology needed to execute the hybrid event. Will you have 100 people in the live audience and 500 people view the stream?

14 Spice Autumn 2021

Is the meeting simply a presenter in a studio with content streaming to the whole audience online? Remember, you will need to meet the requirements of both the live and online audience. For larger events, like the one described above, each presenter will need their own microphone, a showcaller will likely be involved and multiple cameras may be required to cover the speakers on stage.


Content is king: Whilst your live audience can handle some ‘padding’ like the transition time between sessions and meal breaks, your virtual audience needs to remain engaged from start to finish. The content, agenda, speakers and interactions need to be engaging and relevant, more now than ever before.


Time management: Let’s face it, burnout from virtual interactions is real and we have learned that most audiences can’t do more than a few hours of an online event. Keep your content relevant, short and snappy, with high quality engagement throughout. Your live audience will thank you for it as well, a halfday meeting still allows time for their regular workload or to pick the kids up from school.


Engaging your online audience: Your live audience will benefit from chatting to colleagues in the pre-event area or the postevent function, but don’t forget about your online attendees when dishing out the perks. If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it's that we’re extremely creative and adaptable when put under pressure. During lockdown, many businesses pivoted their service, creating unique gift boxes, meal kits and the like, all of which your online audience can benefit from. Why not send a pre-packed, branded cocktail kit to the doors of your virtual attendees? Or perhaps send meal delivery vouchers for them to enjoy with their family that evening. n

BE THERE. THE TIME IS NOW. Keep conversations flowing. Stay agile and explore new opportunities. Marriott International is here to support you back into action with flexible terms and great offers. LEARN MORE ABOUT THE POSSIBILITIES FOR YOUR UPCOMING MEETINGS AND EVENTS. SELECT ONE OF THE BELOW BENEFITS*

1 complimentary room night 1 complimentary delegate per 15 paid room nights for every 10 paying delegates

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©2021 Marriott International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. All names, marks and logos are the trademarks of Marriott International, Inc., or its affiliates, unless otherwise noted. *Offers are for events booked and held before 31/12/2021. Please contact preferred property to confirm participation. Property tailored experiences subject to property discretion. Terms & Conditions apply.

Hot Seat

Event tips for recovery in 2021 Meetings & Events Australia (MEA) chair Nigel Collin shares five tips to help you navigate the year ahead.


ne thing 2021 promises to be is different. As we head into an expected recovery, the first few months have shown there will be a few road bumps (perhaps blocks) along the way. Because of this, knowing the best strategies to recover and grow will be difficult. At MEA, we have spoken with our members and other event professionals to get a feel for what is needed by our industry in the year ahead. Here are some suggestions:

Constantly learn


Amid COVID-19, constant learning has never been more important for you and your team, particularly in learning and adopting new ways of event delivery and doing business. MEA’s 2021 education program is based on what members are telling us they need for the sustainability of their business and their own personal development. Emphasis will be on best practices, event and business operations, case studies and dedicated content on recovery and growth.

you do to help build their confidence in holding events? How can you become a trusted advisor to your clients? At MEA we are focussed on communicating with our members, our industry colleagues and associated bodies to understand what is needed from the association in the short and long term.

Embrace virtual


We all want face-to-face events to return to pre-COVID levels, but the reality is twofold. Firstly, it will take time, and secondly, broadcast events are pretty much here to stay. There have been many success stories of virtual events held throughout 2020 and some amazing innovations. As momentum builds with face-to-face events, virtual will remain part of the event offering. There are many opportunities in the virtual offering if we are smart enough and open enough to learn and leverage them.

2 Be COVID-savvy

Working within the constraints of COVID-19, not against them, will be essential. This means keeping up to date with and being compliant with the latest restrictions and information. Unfortunately, COVID-19 isn’t going away soon and it will be important to stay informed and understand the different guidelines, rules and complexities from state to state. We need to demonstrate that events can happen in a safe environment and instil confidence in our clients and customers.

Be visible and communicate – a lot


Now is not the time to be quiet. Ramp up your marketing and ask how you can increase your profile, ramp up your virtual sales skills, ramp up the conversations you have with your clients and listen to their concerns and aspirations. What can

16 Spice Autumn 2021

Be proactive


Finally, a major strength of the events industry has always been our ability to adapt and learn as we go. As an industry we have worked through other challenging times and have shown our resilience. Although we have seen nothing like the impact COVID-19 has had, I believe our industry will recover as we are proactive in working with and supporting each other. n

“Working within the constraints of COVID-19, not against them, will be essential.”

W OR K GR E AT L E AV E GR E AT ER Surrounding your team with great, leaves your business greater.


Hot Seat

Back into the swing of things

Events at Pullman Magenta Shores Resort

Pullman Magenta Shores Resort director of sales and marketing Michael Reece says flexibility and communication are key to rebuilding confidence in events.

A “Companies are looking to reward their staff after what has been one of the most challenging years we have ever encountered.”

18 Spice Autumn 2021

s the New Year begins, workplaces resume and event planning gets underway, venues are readying for a year of recovery and revival. For the team at Pullman Magenta Shores Resort on the New South Wales Central Coast, 2021 is poised to be a strong year for meetings and events. Part of the Accor portfolio, Pullman Magenta Shores Resort is putting event safety and flexibility first through the brand’s ALLSAFE Meetings & Events commitment, which covers all facets of hygiene as well as booking flexibility for event organisers. Director of sales and marketing Michael Reece says the measures are designed to instil confidence in event organisers when booking their upcoming events. “Understanding our clients’ needs and ensuring their safety is at the heart of what we do,”he says. “We are here to assist and support businesses to achieve their desired outcomes in 2021.” But with restrictions and rules constantly changing, Reece says communication is key. “Pullman Magenta Shores Resort is providing communication surrounding ALLSAFE Meetings to provide clients with a clear understanding of what is occurring at the resort to ensure the safety of their delegates during the event,”he says. “We are also partnering with our key PCO partners to welcome event organisers to experience first hand what a COVID-safe event looks like at the resort.” The resort is also working with clients to ensure flexibility when booking events, to accommodate

for future travel or gathering restrictions. “Event organisers are hesitant to book their events unless venues are providing flexible booking conditions,” says Reece. “Having provided our clients with flexible cancellation conditions due to COVID-19, we are looking forward to welcoming those who were unable to visit in 2020.” When looking at the year ahead, Reece says the word “ambitious” comes to mind. “Speaking with clients directly and PCOs, everyone is looking to return to face-to-face meetings,” he says. “Hybrid meetings do serve their purpose, however to maximise engagement and interaction, nothing can replace in-person meetings. Companies are looking to reward their staff after what has been one of the most challenging years we have ever encountered.” For groups looking to be “ambitious” and reward their teams, Pullman Magenta Shores Resort’s COVID-safe corporate retreat packages are a no-brainer, according to Reece. Thanks to the property’s idyllic location on a championship 18-hole golf course by the beach, there are endless creative ways to utilise the resort for groups of up to 400 people. “We use every square metre of the resort to bring our events to life,” he says. “From pool parties and dinners on our Lakeside Lawn overlooking the golf course or clay shooting down at the BBQ recreation area, no two events are the same and creating memorable experiences is just the beginning.” n

MELBOURNE EVENTS HAVE A NEW CENTRE Located at the heart of Melbourne & Olympic Parks, the city's thriving sports and entertainment precinct, CENTREPIECE at Melbourne Park is where marvellous Melbourne comes to life. Opening late 2021.

sales@mopt.vic.gov.au | +61 3 9286 1118 centrepiecemelbourne.com.au

Hot Seat

Five ways

a convention bureau can help bring your event to life Melbourne, VIC

Melbourne Convention Bureau CEO Julia Swanson shares the benefits of working with a dedicated team of local event experts.


n today’s fast-paced, changing world, the event industry has evolved and opportunities to connect through new technologies can certainly be overwhelming. According to Melbourne Convention Bureau (MCB) CEO Julia Swanson, this is exactly where a convention bureau can step in and help. “Unless you’ve personally had experience with a convention bureau, you may not know what support services they provide for corporate and association event planners,” she says. “A convention bureau can help you transform the way you engage and connect your clients, whether it be through a corporate event, conference, team strategy day or incentive trip.” Here, Swanson shares five benefits to engaging a convention bureau to help plan and execute your next event:


Services are complementary. Local bureaux have a wealth of experience in executing memorable events using stateof-the-art facilities and innovative suppliers to ensure every event yields successful business outcomes. Planners can tap into that network for no cost, as MCB provides a free one-stop service to creating memorable events in Melbourne.


Access to contacts across government, industry sectors and more. Convention bureaux have access to a variety of government contacts and industry experts that may align with your event. MCB has the support of the state government and excellent networks in academia, medicine and research institutions to name a few.

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Receive advice and referrals to suppliers. With a plethora of venue, accommodation, catering, entertainment, transport and experience options on the market, a bureau can help narrow down the best suppliers for your event. MCB partners with more than 200 suppliers and can help you choose the right partners to meet your event brief and budget. If you’re taking your event hybrid or virtual, MCB can connect planners with state-of-the-art live studios, cutting-edge production teams and virtual event platforms.


Access to free marketing materials. Convention bureaux like MCB can help organise print and digital destination information for delegate boosting, including visitor guides, maps, images, videos, itineraries and website content.


Create a unique and unforgettable event. If you’re looking to really get the most out of a destination during your event, bureaux are in the know. Event planners are spoilt for choice in bringing their event to life with access to MCB’s expertise in working with different suppliers. Think laneway activations to gala events in unconventional locations like Old Melbourne Gaol or State Library of Victoria. In addition to the highest concentration of conference facilities in Australia, including the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Melbourne’s vibrant arts and live music scene and a delectable culinary dining experience doesn’t go astray to indulge a variety of clients! n

“A convention bureau can help you transform the way you engage and connect your clients…”

y r u x Lu


PLANNING YOUR NEXT CORPORATE RETREAT? Look no further than the 5 star Luxury Pullman Magenta Shores Resort nestled between Tuggerah Lakes and the Pacific Ocean on the Central Coast. Escape the city and treat delegates to luxury guestrooms and share villa’s only 90 minutes north of Sydney. Pullman Magenta Shores Resort is the perfect location for your overnight event with all catering and accommodation included. Extend your retreat with a corporate golf day on the majestic Magenta Shores Golf and Country Club course or challenge the team with some team building activities in one of many unique spaces within the resort.

C O N TA C T O U R F R I E N D LY T E A M AT H8791-SB@accor.com to book your corporate retreat.

Hot Seat

Regional revival

Artist’s impression of the new Cairns Convention Centre façade

The revitalised Cairns Convention Centre is just one of the many reasons to reacquaint yourself with Cairns & Great Barrier Reef this year.

A “There are incredible opportunities to create event legacies and leave a positive impact on the local community.”

22 Spice Autumn 2021

s the New Year unfolds, one development capturing the attention of event organisers Cairns Convention Centre. Set to be a major drawcard for Queensland’s Cairns and Great Barrier Reef region, the 25-year-old venue is in the midst of a $176 million renovation and expansion. For general manager Janet Hamilton, 2021 is about reintroducing the venue to the industry. “In 2021 we are looking forward to moving back into the centre, showcasing our spaces, utilising the new kitchen facilities to create delicious menus and crafting engaging events with our new audio visual technology,” she says.

A new-look local icon The refurbishment of the existing centre is on track for completion soon, with events set to return from May. Then, focus will be on the centre’s 10,000-square-metre expansion, scheduled for completion in 2022. “The centre’s expansion includes a new façade and entry, 410-delegate plenary, new exhibition space, three additional flexible meeting rooms seating over 100 each and the Trinity level with a 500-delegate ballroom and a terrace overlooking the Trinity Inlet,” says Hamilton. Already, the centre and the team at Business Events Cairns & Great Barrier Reef are seeing strong interest from the sector to revisit the region. “Our team has been in constant contact with our clients and there is a strong willingness to visit Cairns in 2022 and see the Cairns Convention Centre expansion and how the new spaces will work for their events,” says Hamilton.

An evolving destination The new-look convention centre plays a key role in the city’s evolution as a business events destination. In recent years, major investments in the region have led to the development of newbuild hotels, revitalised off-site venues and new visitor attractions. Event professionals are eager to explore the trio of five-star Crystalbrook Collection hotels, soak up the rooftop views at the new Oaks Cairns Hotel and experience the redeveloped Cairns Esplanade Dining Precinct, due for completion later this year. These new developments, coupled with the region’s unique position among two worldheritage listed sites, the Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics Rainforest, are all reasons why business events groups flock to the destination. “There are incredible opportunities to create event legacies and leave a positive impact on the local community,” says Hamilton. As 2021 gets underway, Hamilton says she’s excited to watch the centre’s expansion continue and to see the new, green façade come to life. With events set to resume in the next few months, the centre is also focussed on ensuring groups can meet safely and confidently. “The team will work with event planners on creating flexible plans that will allow events to go ahead in a COVID-safe manner,” she says. “We are committed to ensuring delegates have a positive experience, whether they are in the centre or attending the event virtually, and helping our clients achieve their business goals to aid our industry in getting back on its feet again.”n

Hot Seat

The Sky’s the limit SkyCity Adelaide is open and ready to welcome groups to the world-class entertainment and event venue in 2021.


kyCity Adelaide officially opened its magnificent new $330 million, world-class integrated entertainment establishment late last year, with SkyCity’s dedicated Level 2 events floor opening in January. The versatile event and meeting spaces cater for all occasions, from glamorous gala dinners to conferences, corporate meetings and personal celebrations. The SkyCity Ballroom has a footprint of more than 600 square metres, with a breathtaking river view completing backdrop. SkyCity Adelaide general manager David Christian said SkyCity’s offerings, paired with South Australia’s safe, clean and vibrant location, make it a clear leader for conferences and events. “SkyCity Conference and Events has a firm

focus on the finest and freshest locally sourced cuisine delivered by a broad range of specialty chefs, seamless state-of-the-art technology, fivestar service and stunning views of the Adelaide Riverbank Precinct,” he said. “SkyCity is located right in the heart of the city, with a transport network including the Adelaide Railway Station literally on our doorstep. South Australia is easily accessible from all Australian capital cities, with Adelaide Airport just 20 minutes away.” The expansion and refurbishment of SkyCity Adelaide not only offers conference facilities, but more broadly features Adelaide’s most luxurious five-star hotel, Eos, a gamut of new signature restaurants and bars, as well as expanded gaming, VIP and High Roller benefits. n

Feel connected.


“SkyCity Conference and Events has a firm focus on the finest and freshest locally sourced cuisine…”

Tiwi Islands

Hot Seat

Sheraton Grand Sydney Hyde Park

Reopening the doors Following a successful stint as a quarantine hotel, Sheraton Grand Sydney Hyde Park now offers even higher standards of service, hygiene and event expertise, says general manager Krister Svensson. Tell us about Sheraton Grand Sydney Hyde Park’s experience as a quarantine hotel and how it has benefitted the team and the hotel during this time? The hotel is proud to have played a part in the safe return of Australians and provided a comfortable stay as part of their mandatory 14-day quarantine period. To date, the hotel has accommodated more than 11,000 guests and served more than 460,000 meals as part of the program as well as provided opportunities for guests to join interactive virtual activities such as wine tastings and fitness classes. The program has allowed the hotel to continue to provide employment to over 170 associates and this has been the most significant benefit. In addition, we have been able to enhance and upgrade the hotel driveway and lobby as a result of the lower business demand and this will provide a grand welcome to our customers as they return to the hotel.

The hotel’s hygiene standards would have to be extremely high for a quarantine program. How will those standards be translated throughout the hotel as normal business resumes? The hotel has taken preventative measures in line with Marriott’s Commitment to Clean protocols which include increasing cleaning frequencies of kitchen and guest public areas, implementing strict food handling processes and tableware disinfection, offering contactless menus and payment options and providing hand sanitisers for guests and staff. All staff members are also required to wear masks and undergo daily testing for symptoms when on duty. There are also new standards for food and beverage service for events from facilitated buffet service to bento-style delegate lunch options, which still allow for delicious meals, yet eliminate self-service by guests. We discuss all 24 Spice Autumn 2021

of these protocols and more with our customers pre-event to ensure they are comfortable their event will be executed with confidence.

With conferencing now open, what can business events planners and delegates expect when they visit the hotel? What has changed? Our team has worked hard to bring to life new event protocols as guided by Marriott’s Commitment to Clean, to provide confidence to event planners and delegates when meeting with us. Planners and delegates can still expect the highest level of service execution that we are known for, together with more detailed pre-event discussions that address everything from delegate arrival and flow, to food service and table settings, so as to ensure each event is executed within the guidelines provided by NSW Health in addition to our own protocols. Guests will also notice a higher frequency of cleaning across the hotel’s public areas and event space, our associates wearing masks, distanced seating, hand sanitisation stations, strict food handling processes and contactless experiences.

What is your outlook on the year ahead? Are you confident Sydney will see a reboot in the business events sector? We are confident business events will bounce back in Q3 and Q4 this year as domestic borders reopen and consumer confidence to travel and do business increases. As Australia continues to implement and explore travel bubbles with international markets, this will give greater confidence and provide opportunity for business events and corporate travel in the future. It’s important that our industry continues to be given the opportunity to demonstrate its ability to execute events within this new framework to restore confidence in event planners to secure business events back into Sydney. n

“It’s important that our industry continues to be given the opportunity to demonstrate its ability to execute events…”

Hot Seat

The ever-changing events landscape Intelligent, integrated technology is the key to adapting when challenges arise, writes EventsAIR global sales and marketing director Joe Ciliberto.


f the past 12 months have taught us anything, it is that the one thing that is constant is change, and the ability to adapt and try new ways of doing business is crucial for success. EventsAIR is no stranger to change, having been through multiple eras of transformation including the global financial crisis, the tech bubble, the SARS outbreak, Y2K and 9/11, to name a few – all of which required a new perspective and business approach. Our response to COVID-19 on the technology front was to deliver a way to stop the postponements and cancellations of events, while being able to deliver elements of in-person events in an online environment. For EventsAIR, this was made possible with the release of OnAIR in May 2020. OnAIR is the virtual and hybrid extension of the EventsAIR event

management platform, allowing planners to run a range of events, conferences and tradeshows in a secure, interactive online interface. Thanks to customer feedback, OnAIR is now into its fourth release, offering a wealth of features to create virtual events, such as video content delivery methods, breakout rooms, gamification features, a dedicated Meeting Hub, Virtual Exhibition Hall, e-posters, AIRCast Studio (eliminating the need for third-party streaming products), plus tools such as live Q&A and discussion forums. As the events industry transitions to the hybrid space, partnering with organisations like EventsAIR that seamlessly integrate virtual and in-person elements within one system, will help event planners be quicker, more adaptable and productive when managing change. n

"...the ability to adapt and try new ways of doing business is crucial for success."

Field of Light, Uluru

Feel enlightened.


Hot Seat

Taking centre stage As construction of Melbourne’s newest event venue nears completion, CENTREPIECE at Melbourne Park general manager Lara Burnes reveals what’s in store.


uilding an event centre from the ground up is a mighty task at any rate, not to mention when it’s being constructed in the midst of a global pandemic. But the challenges of 2020 haven’t fazed the team at CENTREPIECE at Melbourne Park, where the purposebuilt event centre is on track to welcome its first events in late 2021. General manager Lara Burnes says while there have been some road bumps along the way, including reduced onsite capacity numbers, the completion date hasn’t been impacted. “Our opening date was always targeting the Australian Open 2022 and we are fortunate that we will open much earlier than that,” she says.“We'll be able to operate events towards the end of this year – we're hoping from about September.”

Creating an event planner’s dream venue Situated right in the centre of the Melbourne & Olympic Park precinct, CENTREPIECE was designed with event planners in mind. In fact, they were consulted in the very early stages of planning and construction. “We asked our event planners, if they could build something from scratch, what would it be?” explains Burnes. Feedback included high ceilings, so CENTREPIECE will feature 8.5-metre high ceilings within its 2,000-squaremetre Grand Hall, perfect for tradeshows, conferences and gala dinners. Other recommendations included natural light, flexibility and ease of access. In response, CENTREPIECE will feature floor-to-ceiling windows to filter in an abundance of natural light, multiple routes for simultaneous bump in and bump out, plus clearly defined navigation for delegates, whether arriving by car or public transport. 26 Spice Autumn 2021

A timeless and sustainable design When designing the venue, the brief was to ensure CENTREPIECE reflected its surroundings and encapsulated the buzzing atmosphere of the precinct. “We really wanted to make sure this venue feels like it's in the middle of our precinct,” says Burnes.

gum timber: elements Burnes hopes will stand the test of time. Sustainability is also a major focus, from the building’s design right through to its food and beverage offering. With a goal to achieve Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification upon completion, CENTREPIECE has committed to a range of initiatives, including water harvesting and recycling programs, as well as a rooftop garden to reduce the venue’s food miles.

Learning and evolving along the way

“We asked our event planners, if they could build something from scratch, what would it be?” “From every aspect in the venue, you can see the greenery outside, the outdoor venues or the expansive spaces that we have at Melbourne Park. “When it’s busy, Melbourne Park brings over 2.5 million people to the precinct. So being able to experience that and be part of it is one of the unique features of the venue.” Inside, the interior design celebrates the Australian landscape. Think red earthy hues, natural tones and Australian spotted

Despite the challenges associated with constructing a venue amid COVID-19, Burnes says it has been a good opportunity to reassess and rethink areas of the build. As a result, visitors can expect more automation throughout the venue and a strong focus on hygiene. “For example, we have had a look at where we can redesign and rebuild doors and taps to be automatic for less touch points,” she says. Filtered water stations will also be located throughout the venue and visitors will be encouraged to bring their own water bottles, checking both the sustainability and hygiene boxes. When the venue opens later this year, all eyes will be on CENTREPIECE, and the team is certainly excited. “It's extremely exciting to have a new venue of this calibre within this amazing precinct and to show it off first to Victorians, then to Australians and hopefully next year to clients from overseas,” says Burnes. “It comes at a great time as hopefully events start coming back. I can't wait to open the doors and have everyone come in and check it out.” n

Hot Seat

5 reasons to rediscover Perth

W Australia’s west coast capital city is constantly evolving, giving planners even more reasons to take their events to Perth, when the time is right.

ith so many new venues, hotels and experiences opening in Western Australia in the past year alone, Business Events Perth has launched a new online Interactive Business Event Planner to showcase the state’s business event offerings, while travel is limited. Business Events Perth CEO Gareth Martin encourages planners to jump online and take part in the interactive experience, where they will see Perth’s newest hotels and venues as well as other-worldly experiences on offer in the west. “When delegates come to Western Australia they always leave saying we exceeded their expectations with our sophisticated city and unique experiences,” he says. There are myriad reasons to visit the west coast; here are five to get you feeling inspired: 1 The $400 million WA Museum Boola Bardip has recently opened, offering a dedicated function centre and event spaces with waterfront views.

2 More than 30 new hotels have opened in recent years, adding 5,000 rooms to the city. 3 Perth Airport has undergone a $1 billion upgrade, providing a more seamless and comfortable transit for groups. 4 Dubbed 2019’s ‘most beautiful stadium in the world’, Optus Stadium is launching a new 42-metre-high rooftop tour attraction, Halo. 5 The Elizabeth Quay riverfront precinct is a major drawcard, booming with hotels, restaurants and bars for groups to enjoy. “While Australia continues to manage its response to COVID-19, I encourage organisers who want to create a safe and unique experience for their delegates in a destination filled with opportunity, to keep Western Australia front of mind, for when the time is right to travel west again,” says Martin. “We can’t wait to welcome you back to our beautiful state.” n

Parrtjima, Alice Springs

Feel inspired.


Hot Seat

Starting strong The Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia (EEAA) has hit the ground running in 2021, meeting with government and advocating for the industry, writes chief executive Claudia Sagripanti.


“Our key focus is to restart the business events industry, build confidence in demand and support the supply chain via continued collaboration.”

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t’s been a bumpy start to 2021, with refreshed COVID outbreaks and sudden state border closures. My goal in writing this column is talk about what we can do and will do in 2021! Our key focus is to restart the business events industry, build confidence in demand and support the supply chain via continued collaboration. For the EEAA, in the advocacy and policy arena, 2021 will continue to be a busy year. The year kicked off with a very beneficial introductory meeting with the new Federal Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan. The minister was very receptive to the needs of the business events industry, in addition to the Business Events Grants Program. The program is underway with Austrade announcing the initial Schedule of Approved Business Events, having received over 700 expressions of interest to date. The grant eligibility criteria has also been released, with further clarifications to come. The uncertainty around state border management has impacted business confidence generally and on our members’ events, as well as the organisers, venues and suppliers involved. We’ve called on the Federal Government to provide a nationally consistent policy to provide certainty and will continue to engage via our various channels. Over the last weeks, I’ve been connecting with the industry on a number of issues and broad subject matter. The good news is, many in our industry have adapted to the ‘new normal’ and with COVID-safe plans now in place, they can and will be running events in 2021.

For example, despite the changes in COVID restrictions in New South Wales, ICC Sydney are still able to run events and exhibitions under the current NSW Health Department guidelines. This is proof business events can happen, and can happen in a COVID-safe environment. Our job is to ensure we instil business confidence right across the event lifecycle – including the organisers, exhibitors, suppliers and, most importantly, the customers who attend. We’ve already kicked off our strategic thinking with a number of key initiatives. We are finalising our 2021-2022 strategy with a focus on getting the industry back on its feet. We will be rolling out the EEAA Sustainability Framework, supported by Business Events Australia in 2021, with a view to launch mid-year to “build back better’’. We’re also launching a Digital & Technology sub-committee, looking at the ways technology can improve engagement and experiences for in-person events. We will also continue the rollout of our Young Stars Mentoring Program as we remain committed to encouraging the careers of young leaders in the industry, and are also looking to champion women in leadership. Like the industry, the association has to continue to innovate and deliver programs and services that will help the industry to recover and thrive. Our board and I are very focussed on ensuring the association stays strong, connected and representative of a rapidly changing industry. n

Hot Seat

Central Australia academy provides invaluable pathways


he National Indigenous Training Academy (NITA) located at Ayers Rock Resort is part of Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia. NITA was established in 2011 to provide training programs for Indigenous Australians working or seeking to be employed in tourism and hospitality. The academy’s key aim is “to change the lives of Indigenous Australians by providing market-leading training and employment programs and empowering a growing Indigenous workforce,” an objective especially relevant to the Northern Territory. Working in partnership with education providers, the William Angliss Institute and Charles Darwin University, NITA has assisted over 500 young Indigenous Australians to obtain certificate qualifications for the hospitality, tourism, horticulture and retail sectors, as well as opening up potential employment opportunities with Ayers Rock Resort and other program partners. “We’re exceptionally proud of all our students who have graduated over the years, but we’re particularly proud of the 2020

National Indigenous Training Academy graduates

class who achieved a nationally recognised qualification in the most challenging year the tourism industry has ever encountered,” says Voyages CEO Matthew Cameron-Smith. A bespoke engagement opportunity can enable business events participants to learn about NITA and the Voyages Indigenous Traineeship Program, and how it enhances the guest experience at Ayers Rock Resort. Currently 44 per cent of resort employees are Indigenous Australians, the highest level in two years. Engagement with NITA is included as part of the annual Uluru Showcase, a partnership initiative between Voyages Ayers Rock Resort and Northern Territory Business Events, with famil participants never failing to be impressed by the excellent outcomes being achieved by the academy. n

Take Your Virtual & Hybrid Events To The Next Level! The EventsAIR virtual and hybrid event solution, OnAIR, has delivered successful online experiences for over 300,000 attendees around the globe

With OnAIR you’re able to easily manage your speakers and guests from a single secure platform. Full streaming and staging functionality is integrated into OnAIR through the AIRCast streaming service and AIRCast Studio.

AIRCast benefits include: Ultra-low latency (sub 5 seconds) Fail safe redundancy with over 50 locations around the globe Easy to use management console Access to AIRCast Studio Only pay for what you use, no monthly lock-in contracts

Book a demo and take a tour of the latest OnAIR release today!

“We wanted to show people in the sector what was possible with virtual events and give them confidence to take that positive step and hold their own virtual events. The event helped attendees to see how they could use the virtual space for their own businesses and pitch the idea to their clients. It was a great success!” Kirsty Forbes, Meetings and Events Australia Board

Book a demo today at:


Hot Seat

The NT combines authentic culture, CSR and cuisine


he Karen Sheldon Group, based in Darwin, operates as an award-winning Northern Territory caterer and registered training organisation. Karen Sheldon Catering delivers events at its premises, which are located at Parliament House in the CBD and at the TIO Stadium adjacent to Darwin Airport, as well as at a range of quirky and iconic off-site locations including the Buley Rockhole in Litchfield National Park, Fannie Bay Gaol, Hidden Valley Raceway and the Darwin Old Town Ruins. The company is renowned for its commitment to Closing the Gap on Indigenous economic disadvantage by inspiring, training and mentoring Aboriginal job seekers, through a range of training programs including the Future Stars Indigenous Employment Program, which assists participants to gain sustainable long-term employment and a future career.

Karen Sheldon with apprentices

Other programs include a Certificate III in Commercial Cookery and Cultural Development Training, which seeks to build respect, support and understanding of the diversity of Aboriginal culture. Business events clients can engage with Karen Sheldon Catering, from both a catering and training organisation perspective. A conference held in Darwin by national bedding and furniture company Snooze highlighted how the Northern Territory is ‘different in every sense for business events’ by incorporating a cooking class into the conference program. Staged at Darwin restaurant Pee Wee’s at the Point, delegates worked alongside Karen Sheldon Training apprentices to create special dishes, enabling engagement in an invaluable CSR activity. n

Discover the unexpected at a business event in Western Australia! www.businesseventsperth.com

Hot Seat

Drumming group provides positive engagement


rum Atweme, a not-for-profit initiative managed by the Tangentyere Council in Alice Springs, Northern Territory, engages young Aboriginal people in an exciting and dynamic drumming and percussion performance group. The key objective is to foster self-esteem and confidence amongst the participants, with a requirement that they regularly attend school and further their education. Profits raised assist to cover equipment, sports and education, provision of healthy food as well as actual performance and travel costs. Since 2004, more than 400 young people have moved through the group’s ranks, together performing at hundreds of business and community events in the NT and interstate. Business events staged in the NT regularly feature Drum Atweme to provide meaningful cultural interaction at conference opening and closing events and social program activities.

Drum Atweme performers in Alice Springs

The group has performed at iconic Alice Springs off-site locations such as Simpson’s Gap, Alice Springs Telegraph Station, Alice Springs Desert Park, Araluen Arts Centre and Ooraminna Station Homestead. Delegates are always delighted to join in and get involved by dancing and playing alongside the performers. Northern Territory Business Events includes Drum Atweme as a highlight of Alice Springs familiarisation programs, showcasing culture as well as the local CSR opportunities available. “A Drum Atweme performance works so well for a business event because it provides invaluable insights into local culture, enables meaningful interaction and is fun for the performers and audience alike,” says Drum Atweme co-ordinator Peter Lowson. n

TAKE YOUR EVENT TO THE NEXT LEVEL AT SKYCITY ADELAIDE South Australia’s most sophisticated and luxurious venue Begin your experience by contacting our SkyCity Conference & Events Team for an initial discussion Email:



+61 8 8212 2811

SkyCity Adelaide, North Terrace, Adelaide, SA, 5000



In-person events are returning and venues across Australia, from casual bars to spacious centres, are ready to fill their spaces again.

VENUE SPOTLIGHT * Capacities are changing regularly due to COVID-19. Head to the venue's website to find out more.

DoubleTree by Hilton Esplanade Darwin 116 The Esplanade, Darwin NT Set next to Darwin Entertainment Centre and overlooking the Esplanade, DoubleTree by Hilton Esplanade Darwin has recently undergone an extensive refurbishment of its 197 guest rooms and suites, fitness centre and conference and events facilities. The hotel features a dedicated event floor, with seven function rooms and additional unique event spaces including the award-winning Grand Ballroom and an outdoor space on the Esplanade. Darwin CBD’s largest outdoor pool and a fitness centre are also on offer. esplanadedarwin.doubletree.com

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Hilton Darwin 32 Mitchell St, Darwin NT Centrally located in the heart of Darwin city, Hilton Darwin offers spectacular Esplanade, harbour and city views from its spacious guest rooms and suites, providing contemporary accommodation for both corporate and leisure travellers. Hilton Darwin has recently completed a million-dollar renovation of its lobby, reception and two food and beverage outlets. The hotel offers six dedicated meeting spaces, including a Grand Ballroom, 24-hour Business Centre and Executive Lounge, as well as recreational facilities ­– all located under the one roof. darwin.hilton.com


One Hundred Event Spaces, ONE precinct. ONE team. Contact our complimentary venue-finding service team to plan your next conference. With 12 diverse venues, 100 event spaces and the addition of our new custom-built broadcast studio specifically created for hybrid events, the possibilities are endless. Take a virtual tour of the Park at sydneyolympicpark.com.au/360 then contact the team at businessevents@sydneyolympicpark.com.au or 02 9714 7133 to discuss your options.


SKYE Suites Parramatta 30 Hunter St, Parramatta NSW SKYE Suites Parramatta offers an unparalleled experience to ensure memorable business gatherings in Sydney’s west. High-design sophistication and masterfully elegant function rooms offering natural light come together to create an inspiring destination for productive collaboration and connectivity. The experienced and dedicated events team will assist with every detail, from venue design to special suite rates for meeting guests staying at the hotel. When it comes to an impactful meeting, the team at SKYE Suites Parramatta believe there are no second chances to make a first impression. skyeparramatta.com.au

NSW Terrigal Beach House 40 Terrigal Esp, Terrigal NSW Launched in early 2021, Terrigal Beach House is situated on the ground floor of Crowne Plaza Terrigal Pacific with sweeping views of the beach for the ultimate alfresco dining and event experience. Located on the NSW Central Coast, the venue offers panoramic views of Terrigal Beach by day and eye-catching sunsets come dusk, ensuring each event will be a memorable one. Terrigal Beach House offers unique event spaces for anything from intimate celebrations to large-scale events, paired with a menu suited to each group. terrigalbh.com.au

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Sydney Olympic Park Sydney, NSW Sydney Olympic Park offers extensive opportunities for business events, with 12 diverse venues, 100 event spaces and the recent addition of a custom-built broadcast studio specifically created for hybrid events. While the expansive destination can host large-scale events of up to 10,000, it also welcomes intimate

Forrester’s 336 Riley St, Surry Hills NSW Applejack Hospitality has revived iconic Sydney pub Forrester’s, with an extensive $1.5 million renovation. Combining the pub’s century-old history with Applejack’s signature greenery and fresh styling, the venue offers three distinct spaces that can be booked for team drinks, lunches and casual events. For lush interiors and feasting menus, Phylli’s is a great space to gather, while Upstairs at Forrester’s is decked out with its own bar, banquet seating and high tables, ideal for up to 90 guests. forresters.com.au

36 Spice Autumn 2021

events as small as 10 people for equally show-stopping experiences. With so many choices, the dedicated business events team is on hand to help planners create a memorable event. sydneyolympicpark.com.au


Swissôtel Sydney 68 Market St, Sydney NSW Swissôtel Sydney unites Swiss hospitality and efficiency with the vitality of Sydney to create dynamic meetings and events that run with clockwork precision. Eight meeting rooms and additional event spaces feature a sophisticated atmosphere and the technology to deliver hybrid and virtual meetings. Organisers and their delegates are


welcomed into a safe, clean and trusted environment through ALLSAFE global cleanliness and prevention standards. swissotel.com/sydney





Experience luxury at QT Gold Coast’s newest outdoor bar and event space. Book your next conference with us and we’ll treat you to a pre-dinner cocktail. Subject to availability. Non-exclusive use. One beverage per person. Non transferrable or exchangeable. For events booked before April 30, 2021 and held by June 30, 2021.

Venues Flames of the Forest Port Douglas, QLD Hidden deep in the heart of the oldest rainforest on earth, yet only 10 minutes from Port Douglas, Flames of the Forest is a private event haven for those seeking exclusivity, privacy, no noise restrictions and the opportunity for delegates to digitally detox and be present in the moment. An organiser’s dream, Flames of the Forest takes the hard work out of planning the ultimate dinner event, providing coach transfers, a selection of sumptuous menus, entertainment and an inbuilt wet weather back up. flamesoftheforest.com.au

QLD Southport Sharks Musgrave Ave & Olsen Ave, Southport QLD Nestled between the ocean and the hinterland, Southport Sharks is one of the Gold Coast’s most extensive entertainment and event facilities. The dedicated events centre can cater to a variety of business events, across its seven flexible meeting, conference and break-out spaces. The venue is also complimented by a 120-room Mantra hotel with 24-hour reception and undercover parking, while the 200-capacity Aviary Rooftop Bar is a popular spot for soaking up iconic skyline views. southportsharks.com.au

QT Gold Coast 7 Staghorn Ave, Surfers Paradise QLD For events at QT Gold Coast, the motto is ‘meet with style and forget the bored room’. Planners can choose from 14 different spaces, including the ballroom, meeting rooms with sweeping views of Surfers Paradise beach or QT’s new outdoor bar The Green. Each event is made unique with a touch of QT’s signature quirk, matched with premium food and beverages and a high level of service. When the event comes to a close, guests can retire to one of the 297 designer accommodation rooms on offer at the hotel. qthotels.com/gold-coast

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Peppers Noosa Resort & Villas 33A Viewland Dr, Noosa Heads QLD Peppers Noosa Resort & Villas is home to one of the Sunshine Coast’s largest conference and event venues. Located in the heart of the UNESCO-designated Noosa Biosphere, the property offers peaceful surroundings, a relaxing ambience and the leisurely Noosa lifestyle, located only 500 metres from the beach. With a range of flexible meeting spaces, an expansive pre-function terrace and trade space, unique 89-seat theatrette, expert AV technology and on-site hatted restaurant, everything is taken care of for you. peppers.com.au/noosa

Extraordinary Events Excited to welcome in a new year? Us too! We’re kick-starting 2021 with a bang! Peppers Noosa Resort & Villas is spacious and naturally designed to celebrate the sub-tropical environment, with views to both ocean and rainforest, yet the setting is intimate and friendly in distinct Peppers style. Choose from a range of flexible event spaces that can host up to 1000 guests cocktail style. Delectable menus, the latest multi-media technology and the highest level of guest service will ensure every event is seamless. The accommodation is elegant, from spacious resort apartments to luxe villas.

20% discount on delegate packages* 21% discount on accommodation* Experience Peppers. Call (07) 5455 2200 noosa.events@peppers.com.au 33A Viewland Drive, Noosa Heads *Terms and conditions apply. Quote ‘Hello 2021’ when enquiring to be eligible for the promotional rates. Valid for new events only. Book by 30 June 2021. Event must take place by 30 October 2021. Subject to availability. Block out dates apply. Accommodation discount only available in one and two bedroom apartments. Not valid in conjunction with any other offer. Minimum spend of $5,000.

spicenews.com.au  39



W Melbourne 408 Flinders Ln, Melbourne VIC After much anticipation, W Melbourne opened its doors in early 2021, welcoming guests into the 294-room, luxury lifestyle hotel. The hotel features four restaurants and bars, plus 830 square metres of ultra-modern event space. The stand-out venue is the Great Room, a pillarless ballroom with 426 square metres of floor space, an abundance of natural light and a large-scale LED wall. On level 14, guests can enjoy FIT and WET, comprising a fitness facility, gold-roofed indoor pool, poolside bar and DJ booth. wmelbourne.com


VENUES Experience an exquisite new standard in boutique luxury accommodation, exceptional dining and exquisite events at Emporium Hotel South Bank, Brisbane’s cultural epicentre.

events@emporiumhotels.com.au (07) 3556 3333 emporiumhotels.com.au

Expert advice


for selecting a venue during COVID-19 As in-person meetings and events get back underway, there are new factors to consider when sourcing your venue. “During the planning process negotiate with the venue that attrition rates and minimum spend will be flexible and can be reduced if required closer to the event,” she says.“This means, if the number of tickets sold are not as expected, the venue shares the responsibility of the realistic expectations and adjusts the minimum spend accordingly.”


ith a ‘new normal’ for meetings and events, comes a host of new considerations for planners, starting with selecting a venue. Claire Graham, operations manager at Interpoint Events, which manages events such as C&I Expo, AHICE, Design Inn and the ATSA Independent Living Expos, says there are more factors than ever to weigh up when sourcing an event venue. Here, she shares five tips to help choose the right venue partner to bring your event to life in a safe and seamless way.

Tip #1: Space and capacity

Tip #3: Cleaning and hygiene ”Check if the venue includes additional cleaning and hygiene services required for a COVID-safe event as part of the agreement,” says Graham.“Will the venue supply these protocols at no additional charge?” Additional hygiene services may include sanitisation stations on arrival and throughout the venue, temperature readings on entry, face masks at an attendee’s request, COVID-safe signage and floor markers for social distancing, QR code check-in systems and additional roaming cleaners on site to monitor high-touch areas.

With rules and regulations in place enforcing social distancing, you’ll firstly need to find a venue partner that will work with you to provide a space that adheres to your expected capacity. “For example, if your expected conference capacity is 300, will they provide a room large enough to hold this number, taking into account social distancing restrictions, for the same cost?” says Graham. “Find out if the venue will offer an additional day to bump in and bump out an expo to allow a staggered schedule for suppliers and exhibitors. Ensure there is additional space for setting up registration and catering stations with social distancing taken into consideration.”

Tip #4: Audio visual

Tip #2: Cancellation or postponement policy

Finally, be sure to find out how the venue will be handling their foodservice and catering during your event. Graham says start with the basics and decide whether it will be a canapé service or a plated meal. “Ask how the food and beverage team propose food items are packaged and find out if there any additional considerations for serving alcohol,” she says.“For networking breaks or cocktail events, how will the venue manage service and allow for COVID-safe plans to be executed effectively? n

As we all know now, cancellations and postponements are inevitable during a pandemic. With this in mind, Graham says it is important to check the fine print in venue contracts for clauses regarding cancelling or postponing your event due to COVID restrictions or an enforced lockdown. For example, will the venue transfer any deposit payments to a new date should the event not take place due to a new lockdown?

The reality is, there is now an expectation that events consider a virtual element to cater to those who can’t attend in person. Graham warns, the audio visual components and associated costs involved in hybrid events can be extensive. “Check with the venue if they only allow their inhouse AV team to operate your event as part of the contract or if they will allow for your preferred supplier to use the equipment at the venue,” she says. “Request a quote from both suppliers so that you can manage your budget with any additional costs.”

Tip #5: Food and beverage

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Feature A rustic banquet by Sydney Prop Specialists

Setting up for success Event suppliers are finding the positives amid the challenges and refocussing their efforts to future-proof their business.

42 Spice Autumn 2021


THE BLACKTIES Magicians and Mind-readers

WE PERFORM MAGIC TO: • Bring astonishment • Spark conversation • Drive Engagement Scan here to see some magic!

0450 753 623 • events@theblackties.com.au www.theblackties.com.au

Completely COVID-SAFE roving and stage shows.


Sydney Prop Specialists are seeing interest in fun, colourful themes


here’s no denying event suppliers have faced enormous challenges since the pandemic began and many businesses are still feeling the major impact of the shutdown of events. But as we look to the future, one with in-person events in it, suppliers are forging ahead and staying committed to bringing events to life. Here, we speak to four suppliers, from theming and props to team building and entertainment, to hear their inspiring stories of adaptation and to find out what the future holds as events get back underway.

Changing focus Prior to the pandemic, the team of magicians at The BlackTies could be found roaming through events performing mind-blowing magic tricks for corporate groups all across Sydney. But, as a business built on up-close interaction and engagement, the company was forced to change gear as in-person events began to slow. 44 Spice Autumn 2021

“We developed a completely online Zoom magic show that we could bring to our corporate clients,” says director and founder Scott Zhou. “We developed new tricks that specifically work well over camera and use illusions that are targeted to engage and enlighten the day of a typical work-at-home individual. We focussed on ensuring high levels of engagement and involvement in our shows so that it can be interactive, even if we can not physically be in the same room as the guests.” Having created a business around largescale event props and theming, Sydney Prop Specialists had to think fast about ways to keep going when the pandemic first struck. General manager Craig Watson says as events began switching to virtual, the company’s film and photographic studios in Marrickville saw higher demand than ever. “This area of our business has been buoyant; even in lockdown clients were live streaming,” he says.

sydney props


event school






“Music is a universal language. Physicality, age or gender isn’t an issue, it’s like a mutual playing field for everyone and it’s not work related.” – Andy Sharpe

SongDivision has found success with virtual programs

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While the studio work softened the blow, Sydney Prop Specialists had to look for additional revenue streams to keep its full-time staff in work. They focussed efforts on a recently acquired business, Chair Covers Candelabra, which mostly operates in the wedding and special events space, and even opened The Virus Shop, selling face masks, hand sanitiser, thermometers, signage and more.

Finding new opportunities Operating across Australia, Asia, US, UK and Europe, musical team building provider SongDivision has found the move to virtual and hybrid events a beneficial one. A few weeks after COVID-19 hit Australia in March 2020, SongDivision was running free virtual ‘happy hour’ shows to keep the community, and its musicians, engaged. Since then, the virtual side of the business has continued to grow and in less than 12 months the company has performed more than 1,000 virtual and hybrid events. Founder Andy Sharpe says it’s also opened the business up to a broader range of clients. “We’re working with companies that we hadn’t worked with before because we were previously too expensive for their event, where we would have been bringing in a five-piece band and all the AV that goes with it,” he explains. “Now we’re doing a lot more state-wide and national teambuilding programs for teams spread out across the country that can’t get together and meet, but they’re still working with each other every day and need some sort of human connection.” Based in Adelaide, training and team building supplier Venture Corporate Recharge also saw new opportunities arise last year. “As an organisation that floats between the conference, training and development, recreation, education and tourism sectors, we felt the initial hit as much as any other service provider,” says general manager Luke Duncan.

Suppliers With the conference market still not fully recovered, the group has focussed on other avenues for growth. “Going into 2021, we have a huge number of bookings from schools looking at developing leadership qualities for the student cohorts,” he says. “We have also seen South Australian organisations and fully independent domestic tourists explore local opportunities for adventurebased learning and outdoor recreation.”

Supporting the supply chain

The BlackTies magicians

As in-person events get back underway, suppliers are encouraging event organisers to think local and support the businesses around them where they can. Watson hopes the move to smaller, localised events will provide a much-needed boost to the sector. “With overseas travel restrictions still in place we feel there may be more opportunities in the local market,” he says. “We've seen a few events with bigger corporates doing simultaneous theming in three locations like Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne and then video linking them. So that’s an opportunity; there's more people thinking about supporting local suppliers.”


Team building with Venture Corporate Recharge

SongDivision has found the success of its virtual programs, and their lower price point, has given more businesses the ability to invest in their teams during the pandemic. “Companies are trying to connect their people who are at home or spread out across the country,” says Sharpe. And one of the best ways to do that, he says, is through music. “Music is a universal language,” he explains. "Physicality, age or gender isn’t an issue, it’s like a mutual playing field for everyone and it’s not work related. “A big part of our program is getting groups to write an original song. Initially, the majority of people get freaked out a bit, but our process is to make them comfortable and show them it’s a collaborative effort. “At the end of the program they’ve written a song and they’ve achieved something together they didn't think was possible before.”

“The great thing about a small industry within a small state is the overwhelming sense of community and support.” – Luke Duncan

A promising future While times have been tough, an overwhelming sense of community has helped businesses like Venture Corporate Recharge stay strong through it all. “The great thing about a small industry within a small state is the overwhelming sense of community and support,” says Duncan. “Small businesses have been monumental in helping each other out and associations like Outdoors SA have been integral for advocacy and support during trying times.” While he is optimistic the industry is on the right track to recovery, Duncan encourages corporate teams to “push through the hesitation and uncertainty” and get their staff out experiencing team development and adventure-based learning opportunities. 48 Spice Autumn 2021

Adventure-based activities with Venture Corporate Recharge


“The mental health and wellbeing benefits of adventure-based learning are in high demand as we move into 2021,” he says. Similarly, Watson’s outlook on the future is positive and he’s confident the industry will build back if there’s a collective approach to the COVID-19 recovery. “We can't stay at home and do nothing; we are all keen to move forward in a safe way,” he says. As event enquiries start returning, Sydney Prop Specialists are seeing growing interest in fun, uplifting themes. “We are sensing that teams are looking for something to celebrate, so fun themes such as vintage circus and Alice in Wonderland are going to be popular,” says Watson. “Also with the lack of travel, we feel destination themes will be popular – let’s have Paris, New York, Italy or Mexico at home!” The future is also looking bright for the SongDivison team, who have plans to expand further into China in 2021, while continually evolving their technology offering for clients.

“While we know live events are going to come back, remote working is not going away,” says Sharpe. “Every day we make sure we’re staying across the latest technology; the innovation is happening all the time.” As in-person events start ramping up again, The BlackTies are also adapting their offering to suit a new style of meeting. “We have completely transformed our magic repertoire ensuring there is no contact or passing of props required and that all tricks are enjoyable and visible from a safe distance,” says Zhou. But ultimately, the team is ready to get back to doing what they do best. “We look forward to corporate events returning and being able to joke around with guests, make them laugh and create that sense of connection,” says Zhou. In the face of adversity, suppliers have changed focus, found new ways to utilise their teams and expertise and, ultimately, are looking ahead to a future brimming with events. n

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Case study


Case study: TEDxSydney 2020 Amid the restrictions and roadblocks of 2020, TEDxSydney was yet another event forced to reinvent itself in order to go ahead.


s a world-renowned platform for curating ideas and innovation, TEDxSydney traditionally draws in eager crowds by the thousands, to meet in person and watch powerful talks by a diverse range of speakers. Slated for May 2020, TEDxSydney looked to event and brand agency INVNT to design and produce its flagship in-person event for an audience of 5,000 for the third consecutive year, however COVID-19 had other plans.

The brief Like many events taking place in the first half of 2020, the initial plan was to postpone until the COVID-19 situation eased. “In the first instance, INVNT worked closely with TEDxSydney to postpone the event – liaising with venues, caterers, technical directors and other vendors – to 6 November 2020, at a time when an inperson event may have still been feasible,” explains Laura Roberts, managing director at INVNT APAC. As the pandemic unfolded, the team at TEDxSydney decided to take the event online for the first time, with a goal to stay true to its mission and core focus: content and community. 50 Spice Autumn 2021

“TEDxSydney tasked INVNT with supporting the four main stage sessions live from a studio in Sydney, and ensuring its community had an interesting and exciting place to virtually ‘go to’ outside of these sessions,” says Roberts.

The event An event like TEDxSydney called for more than your average Zoom-based conference with presenters streaming from their living rooms. Instead, INVNT took the event to a Sydney studio, where a full-scale production could be executed. “We streamed live from a big and beautiful studio in Sydney using eight cameras, lights and all manner of creative and technical wizardry – it was a major production,” says Remo Giuffré, founder and licensee of TEDxSydney. Most speakers presented live in the studio across four main stages, which were streamed via virtual event platform Jomablue. Speakers and performers included Atlassian's Dominic Price, tennis champion Daria ‘Dasha’ Gavrilova and Australian Indigenous singer-songwriter Emma Donovan. Each session had capacity for 22 socially distanced audience members, while a virtual ‘wall of faces’ was

3 1. The main stage at TEDxSydney 2. Vocalist Emma Donovan performing on the main stage 3. TEDxSydney main stage with the 'wall of faces' 4. B ehind the scenes at the INVNT studio 5. Atlassian's Dominic Price speaking at the event

Case study


used to create the feeling of a larger live audience. Giuffré says the feature “opened up a portal to the rest of the world that felt more visceral than it had felt in the past”. In between the main stage sessions, attendees could choose from dozens of interactive discovery sessions, where they could learn a new skill, meet the speakers or chat with other attendees. Highlights included yoga classes, coffee demonstrations and backstage interviews. “We wanted to recreate the elements of learning and interaction that we know our community loves at the physical events,” says Giuffré. “Each of these 27 discovery sessions required a producer and a technical set up somewhere in the real world. It was a complicated beast.” The INVNT team worked out of a 16-person studio to ensure each discovery session was successfully broadcast throughout the day, while other team members were on site at the main stage studio to help the whole event run smoothly.

The key learnings

FAST FACTS What: TEDxSydney 2020 Where: A Sydney studio and online When: 6 November 2020 Who: 3,000 registered virtual attendees, 88 in-person attendees spread out across four main stage sessions


According to Roberts, one of the main challenges with taking the event online was upholding the TEDx reputation. “With TEDxSydney a renowned brand and leader on the global TEDx stage, it was important we uphold its reputation, while bringing TEDxSydney’s tight knit community together to share ideas through a highly connective, emotive event experience, all in a COVID-19 safe environment,” she says.

“We overcame these challenges by moving swiftly to communicate how the event would change, and got working on the technicalities involved in the shift to a virtual – and somewhat hybrid – experience months in advance of the new November date, while ensuring engagement and connection was possible in multiple ways.” Safety and hygiene were the top priority for the INVNT team, which was managed through an extensive COVID-19 compliance plan. This included a COVIDsafe check-in system, temperature checks on arrival, providing masks and hand sanitiser and COVID-safe signage. Staff at the event were briefed on the COVID-safe plan before their arrival, while COVID-19 marshalls patrolled the site throughout the day.

The results According to the INVNT team, the event was a success overall, with 3,000 registered attendees from around the globe and an 80 per cent rating of ‘excellent’ or ‘good’ following the event. In their feedback, attendees commended organisers on the format and smooth delivery of the event, while others commented that the use of the live ‘wall of faces’ created an engaging experience. The team at TEDxSydney were also extremely pleased with the end result. “It was epic and I feel very proud of our team and all of our partners for digging so deep to deliver something special for the benefit of our precious TEDxSydney community,” says Giuffré. n

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Escape to the

Château Above: Château Élan at The Vintage Hunter Valley Below: Greg Norman-designed golf course


f there’s one positive to come from the lengthy travel bans and closed borders 2020 threw at us, it’s the opportunity to see our home states with fresh eyes. New South Wales isn’t short of stunning regional destinations, and one that never fails to impress is the Hunter Valley. The region is a strong favourite among Aussie event planners and for good reason – it’s just far enough from Sydney’s CBD that it feels like a break from the city, yet close enough that a short two-hour drive will get your delegates there in time for breakfast. There is an array of conference venues and premium accommodation on offer throughout the region, but one that encompasses both, plus a highly regarded day spa and golf course, is Château Élan at The Vintage Hunter Valley. On arrival, Château Élan feels like a much-needed breath of fresh air. Coming from Sydney (or any capital city for that matter), the open space and lush greenery brings an immediate sense of calm and relaxation. For corporate groups, that feeling might be exactly what’s needed after the challenges of 2020.

Endless green lawns, inquisitive wildlife and charming event spaces are on offer at one of the Hunter Valley’s hidden gems.

Wide open spaces Spanning acres upon acres of manicured lawns and gardens, Château Élan can be exclusively booked for conferences and events, ideally suited to groups around the 200-delegate mark. Stepping into the property’s dedicated meeting spaces, the first thing you’ll notice is the abundance of natural light – it streams in through large glass windows and doors, and is reflected back via cleverly positioned mirrors. Of course, when it comes time for a presentation, block-out curtains are there to strike the right balance. The Founders Room is the largest venue on offer at 269 square metres and can be divided into two rooms. Meanwhile, the smaller 169-square-metre Barrington Room features 5.2-metre-high ceilings accented by striking dark wood beams and elegant styling. Both spaces boast views over the golf course and open out into a quaint courtyard, perfect for pre- or post-event networking functions. While traditionally a popular choice for weddings, the Carriage House also makes for a great break-out space for corporate teams. The handcrafted, convict-cut sandstone building opens onto to a dreamy alfresco setting shaded by large gum trees. Château Élan also makes use of its expansive outdoor areas and can organise marquee setups on its lawns.

Inviting accommodation Château Élan features 100 accommodation rooms in total, including 20 spa suites within the main hotel building that offer special spa access, and the rest are villa-style rooms that cascade down along the fairway. While making your way to one of the studio, one- or two-bedroom villas, don’t be surprised if you’re greeted by an inquisitive kangaroo or two – the resident wildlife are just as comfortable on the property as guests are. The one-bedroom villa is incredibly spacious, with a balcony overlooking the 52 Spice Autumn 2021


Barrington Room

lawns, full kitchen amenities and separate lounge and dining areas that could easily double as workspaces or casual meeting spots. The bedroom itself is certainly not short on space either, while the bathroom is complete with luxury amenities and both a bath and shower.

Business meets leisure The Hunter Valley region is an idyllic choice for incentive groups, not just for its delicious food and wine scene but for the myriad activities and experiences available. Groups often incorporate a golf day into their incentive program at The Vintage, given the property is home to a Greg Norman-designed, 18-hole championship course. For those who prefer to rejuvenate and unwind, the Château Élan Day Spa is one of the largest private spa facilities in the country. It truly is a

On location

haven of relaxation, with 17 treatment rooms, elegant waiting areas and a hydro lounge and deck area. Corporate groups can take the spa session to luxury heights with exclusive use of the deck, accompanied by a menu of local beverages and cheeses. Beyond the property, the Hunter Valley region has endless food and wine experiences, team building providers and activities on offer for groups, such as grape stomping, hot air ballooning and cheesemaking masterclasses. Château Élan genuinely gives you the feeling of escaping to a secluded, faraway destination, something all corporate teams are yearning for following a challenging 12 months. The experiences and spaces on offer across the property, not to mention the super attentive and welcoming staff, are more than enough reasons to put it on your event bucket list for 2021 and beyond. n

Snapped by Spice during our stay at Château Élan

The Carriage House

Bottom left: A grand entrance welcomes you to Château Élan Bottom middle: Thoughtful touches on arrival make all the difference Bottom right: The Château Élan Day Spa transports you to France

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Hunter highlights Leave the city behind and explore a regional gem. Photo credit : Destination NSW




Events amongst the casks

French-inspired dining

State-of-the-art tasting facilities

Hope Estate is an all-encompassing cellar door venue that plays host to everything from large music festivals and corporate events to intimate tastings. Among its impressive event spaces is The Great Cask Hall, surrounded by 59 enormous winefilled casks and huge vaulted ceilings, and The Winery with seating for up to 1,000 guests (at regular capacity).

French restaurant Bistro Molines channels the South of France with its alfresco setting, paved courtyard, picturesque outlook and vines that stretch along the property. Owned by husband and wife duo Robert and Sally Molines, the highly awarded restaurant serves up sophisticated yet rustic dishes, inspired by Robert’s French roots.

After completing an $8 million development just over two years ago, Brokenwood Wines is now one of the biggest cellar doors in the region and is a great location for corporate groups and events. Groups can taste wines in one of the circular tasting ‘pods’ or in one of two private tasting rooms, before enjoying a meal at The Wood Restaurant or on the expansive outdoor terrace.


Credit: MJK Creative



Picturesque event settings

Charming culinary experiences

Rise above it all

Located in the Broke Fordwich region of the Hunter Valley, Margan is a family owned winery, cellar door and event venue. The property offers multiple spaces for corporate events, including a courtyard, bar, restaurant, barrel room and outside gardens. Whether a casual cocktail event or a more formal sit-down lunch, events at Margan showcase produce from the on-site gardens and the brand’s locally grown wines.

Located at Keith Tulloch Winery, Muse Kitchen is a charming European bistrostyle restaurant, and the sister venue to the high-end Muse Dining nearby. At the helm is chef Josh Gregory, whose passion for local, seasonal ingredients informs the ever-evolving menu. Muse Kitchen can be booked for exclusive events, offering groups a relaxed, intimate setting balanced with a high standard of professionalism and culinary expertise.

There’s nothing quite like soaring high above a destination in a hot air balloon – it’s an experience that will always leave a lasting impression. Balloon Aloft has been soaring above the Hunter Valley for more than forty years, taking off at sunrise and showing guests the picturesque wine regions of Pokolbin, Lovedale, Rothbury or Broke. Groups can even end the flight with a Champagne breakfast at Peterson House Winery and Restaurant.

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Hope Estate is perfectly located in the heart of Hunter Valley wine country. Award Winning Craft Beer, Fine Wine, Premium Spirits and home to the biggest concerts in the Valley. Book your 2021 event with Hope Estate and receive an upgraded beverage package.* Choose between our Great Cask Hall, Harvest Restaurant and Winery spaces for your gala dinner or corporate event.

Contact us today for more information on functions@hopeestate.com.au *Terms & Conditions - Event to be booked by 31 March 2021, to be held by 31 Dec 2021. Booking must have a minimum F&B spend of $5k to be applicable. New bookings only.

Stay at Tower Lodge

Tower Lodge can be used for executive retreats of up to 12 guests in individual rooms with a conference space. Book Tower Lodge exclusively for your corporate retreat in 2021. Enjoy a Degustation dinner on one night and breakfast daily for an experience your team won’t forget in a hurry.