MICE Travel Advisercatches up with Martin Radcliffe, General Manager ofAdelaide Convention Centre for a tete-a-tete. Radcliffe shares his insight on Adelaide’s MICE scene after the grueling pandemic years and his plans to promote business with sustainability as key priority.
MICE Travel Adviser: Looking back at the pandemic years how has Adelaide’s MICE scene transpired for you?
Martin Radcliffe: Business events are certainly back. Clients and prospective clients are demonstrating significant desire to meet again, with the 2022/2023 financial year (July 1, 2022 – June 30, 2023) set to be our most successful year on record.
This month (May 2023) is shaping up as our biggest month since the onset of the pandemic. An influx of events in May—74 in total, including 15 major national and international conferences and exhibitions—not only demonstrates that the business events industry is well and truly back, but also the heightened appeal of Adelaide as a leading business events destination.
As a destination, Adelaide has emerged from the pandemic years with more business events infrastructure. From a hotel perspective, we’ve seen an additional 1,700+ accommodation rooms open since the beginning of 2020, including the five-star Sofitel Adelaide and Eos by SkyCity. Indeed, there are more new hotels on the horizon, including a Marriott-branded property which is set to open later this year, along with a Hyatt property due for completion in 2023.
MICE Travel Adviser: In terms of getting back to ‘usual business’, how can we expect you to keep the business going, and which markets will you focus on in 2023?
Martin Radcliffe: Together with our partners at Business Events Adelaide, we are working closely with local industry leaders to attract high profile international events that align with South Australia’s key priority sectors, including:
Health & medical
Energy & mining
Food, wine & agribusiness
Over recent years Adelaide has witnessed an investment explosion in innovation and infrastructure across these industries, enabling clients to leverage the Adelaide Convention Centre’s extensive local networks to provide market leading delegate experiences.
Adelaide’s innovation districts continue to grow from strength to strength. The precinct is now home to major global companies including Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services and world-leaders in computer vision, the Australian Institute of Machine Learning. Very conveniently, both precincts are located within walking distance to Adelaide Convention Centre.
Adelaide is also home to many global thought leaders and decisions makers. We have built meaningful connections with these subject matter experts and business leaders to leverage incredibly exciting opportunities for conference organisers and delegates alike.
MICE Travel Adviser: How many events have you secured after the reopening of borders and resurgence of the global MICE industry?
Martin Radcliffe: Adelaide Convention Centre’s strong rebound and record forecast can be attributed to market-leading success in retaining and rescheduling business event bookings throughout the pandemic period. The centre has been operating at near capacity throughout 2022/23 to date, with forward bookings indicating it will achieve another outstanding result in 2023/24.
MICE Travel Adviser: How has business changed over the past few years?
Martin Radcliffe: It is evident that clients today are more conscious about creatively and responsibly incorporating technology, sustainability, wellness and connection to country into their conference and event programs. As such, we have worked hard to reflect these elements in our offerings.
Connection to Country In our latest menu, we’ve built upon our Honest Goodness menu philosophy by integrating various traditional native Australian ingredients, which enhance featured dishes with their unique and diverse flavour offerings and textures, as well as provide opportunity for delegates to experience and celebrate one of the world’s oldest cultures.
Wellness There has been a major shift towards wellness since 2020 and how this is incorporated into our everyday life and dealings. Adelaide Convention Centre’s design and location means that we readily embrace this renewed focus on wellbeing.
Adelaide Convention Centre’s central location on the Adelaide Riverbank means that planners can easily incorporate daily rituals into their conference programs, which elevate informal networking opportunities while also enabling delegates to explore our destination and take advantage of its fantastic climate. There is opportunity for conference planners to incorporate informal riverside walks or even fun runs to start each day before treating delegates to a wellness juice or coffee on the promenade prior to the day’s official program starting.
Sustainability At Adelaide Convention Centre, our commitment to sustainability is unwavering. We were the world’s first convention centre to achieve Earthcheck’s coveted Platinum status for best practice in business and environmental sustainability and are now well on our way to Master status –a 15-year commitment.
Sustainable exhibitions are a particular focus area, and we’re proud to work with partners such as Adelaide Expo Hire, who are leading the way when it comes to minimal impact exhibitions. A great case study is offered by the recent evoke Ag National Conference, which opted for greener, more sustainable display stands within their exhibition. This included crafting exhibition walling from Adelaide Expo Hire’s 100% repulpable and recyclable Eco Boards, as well as using furniture made from recycled pallets.
MICE Travel Adviser: What are your plans to promote sustainability in Adelaide’s MICE industry?
Martin Radcliffe: A clean, green event destination, Adelaide is the world’s only ‘city in a park’ and takes sustainability very seriously, with a mission to become the world’s first carbon neutral city.
Adelaide Convention Centre shares this commitment, with environmental sustainability and social responsibility integrated through all aspects of our business.
Our latest Earth Check audit recognised the venue as a regional leader in numerous important areas including water conservation, reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, along with minimising waste to landfill.