BE Sydney initiative aims to entice more international business events

New Hotel Agreement sets minimum standards for various terms

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Business Events Sydney has launched a new initiative aimed at improving the competitiveness of Sydney and NSW as a destination for international business events.

The organisation this month filed paperwork with the Australian competition watchdog, seeking approval for a new Hotel Agreement with its hotel and accommodation partners. The aim of which is to ensure Sydney remains appealing for large international events based on availability, cost and ease of logistics arranging accommodation services. BESydney also wants to improve its 2018 average win:loss ratio of better than 60:40.

Under the the Hotel Agreement, hotel members have agreed to “certain universal terms” that are offered to event organisers and delegates for events of 2,000+ people and which are likely to use 10 or more of Business Events Sydney’s Member Hotels for delegate room blocks.

Delegates attending the Amway China Leadership Seminar in 2017 take to BridgeClimb Sydney

BESydney’s members participating in the Agreement currently consists of thirteen five-star hotels, six 4.5-star hotels and three four-star hotels. They represent 40% of the luxury and upper upscale and upper midscale hotels in Sydney city and 34% of the total hotel room supply. Properties include InterContinental Sydney, Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour, The Westin Sydney, Shangri-La Hotel Sydney and Sofitel Sydney Wentworth.

The Hotel Agreement – flagged for no less than a 20-year term – relates to the holding of room blocks, cancellation policies, consistent check-in and check-out times, concessions, minimum room access, lowest advertised rate guarantee, quote validity and force majeure terms. It does not set the price of accommodation or services.

Opening address of International Bar Association event at the ICC Sydney in Darling Harbour on 8 October, 2017. Photo by Anna Kucera

BESydney told the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) it had identified that organisers of international business events are more likely to favour a destination that can offer accommodation options which have “consistent terms or policies, such as cancellation policies, to assist delegate and organisations with planning their event”.

The strategy seeks to address increasing competition from international hotel businesses, particularly in Asia Pacific and the Middle East, who offer cheaper accommodation “which can make Sydney and NSW less attractive destinations for international events,” BESydney told the ACCC.

In its application to the competition regulator, BESydney identified that over the last 18 months the destination has competed most frequently for association conferences and corporate meetings with Melbourne, Brisbane, Seoul, Singapore, Dubai, Auckland and Hong Kong. In the corporate travel reward programs space, Sydney was up against Melbourne, Gold Coast, Bali, Cairns and Hawaii.

Among the benefits, BESydney said the Hotel Agreement would fast-track accommodation selection processes, reduces costs and provides consistency around certain terms for event organisers and delegates, meanwhile streamlining the process of negotiating accommodation terms for Member Hotels.

The ACCC is inviting submission on the application until 22 July, 2019 and expects to make a draft determination on the initiative in August, with a final decision expected in September.

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