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Why 2023 is the year of face-to-face engagement


Why 2023 is the year of face-to-face engagement

In an exclusive interview, directors of The Venues Collection – Christopher Drivas, Jacqueline Worrall and Philip Beauchamp – share their strategic vision for the year ahead and how the company endeavours to “operate smarter”.  

The Venues Collection has a unique portfolio of venues spanning Sydney’s harbour and hinterland. After a particularly difficult few years for the hospitality and events industry, how do you feel going into 2023?

We feel cautiously optimistic going into 2023. Yes, there will be challenges however there are numerous opportunities. We spent the second half of 2022 reviewing and reinvested heavily in solidifying the company’s infrastructure. Part of that investment included recruiting and developing our people, who underpin our success.

As early as January this year, we already saw the return of business events and brand activations. Our appointments at AIME 2023 informed us that there is an even stronger appetite for face-to-face gatherings [than before the pandemic] as stakeholders see a greater return on business objectives and investment through in-person events.

We are also delighted to be a strategic partner of Business Events Sydney this year – to support their massive efforts in bringing the right types of business events into the city and beyond.

Despite a renewed optimism surrounding face-to-face events and travel, ongoing inflation and budget pressures are dampening the economic outlook for the year ahead. How do you plan to combat this? Tell us about your strategic vision.

We agree with Dr Ben Hamer, the head of Future of Work at PwC Australia, who indicated that 2023 is about efficiency and productivity.

Businesses like ours use lessons from the Covid years to operate smarter. Cost efficiency has always been paramount to business success. We provide our people with the right tools and technology to ease the increased workload since the economy returned in early 2022.

We’ve also invested substantially into effective internal and external communications by combining data and customer feedback. We believe in leadership-in-action and are consistently there with our team to support and motivate them through good and bad times.

Lastly, it is important for our company to take courage and be a leading force for our industry so government bodies can see the importance of the business events industry and its significant contribution to the economy. We may not be doctors, but we understand people and the power of human connection – our industry deserves respect.

On top of macroeconomic concerns, new ways of working (largely hybrid) are also set to impact meetings and events. How do you see the business events sector evolving in the next 12 months?

Australia is a highly social market. The need to meet and talk things through will always be part of our DNA. Yes, online meeting platforms gave us alternative ways to gather and meet safely. Many of our clients are already using digital platforms for pre- in-person meeting topics and from there, use our venues for discussions and brainstorming.

This combination empowers event organisers to achieve desired outcomes earlier than pre-Covid days. Thus, making in-person events more meaningful. People love gathering and celebrating success together – ultimately, this is what life is all about.