Why communication has been the cornerstone of recovery

14 Dec 2020

In a year of predominately virtual panels, it was a welcome change to address the business events community in person this week on two occasions.

The first of which was the Professional Conference Organisers Association 2020 Conference, where I joined fellow panellists to discuss our roadmap to the future followed by delivering the welcoming address at the Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia’s (EEAA) Annual Awards for Excellence.

As well as future gazing and forward planning, discussions focused on the gruelling year our industry has endured and what strategies and decisions helped us to pull through. The end of the year is naturally a time for retrospective analysis – even more so this year.

A crisis demands clear, consistent communication so as soon as the coronavirus pandemic reached Australia, we made a commitment to our team members, clients, stakeholders, suppliers and industry representatives to maximise communication early and often.

While we inevitably didn’t get this right 100% of the time, it was always our top priority as the situation unfolded at pace.

Constant communication and dialogue internally and externally allowed us to build trust and identify a pathway through the pandemic while being clear on how we would get there, including the launch of our virtual and hybrid event solutions platform and designing our industry leading EventSafe Operation Guide based on our parent company, ASM Global’s worldwide Venue Shield program.

We immediately increased the frequency of direct communications with our clients, stakeholders and suppliers regarding our changed operating plans and procedures. Even when we haven’t had positive news to share, we have been transparent about the current state of affairs at ICC Sydney and our destination via regular updates.

More broadly, we have remained in constant dialogue with our industry colleagues and representative bodies to ensure our industry’s long term recovery strategy remains front of mind with decision makers at the state and federal levels. This includes my roles with the Business Events Council of Australia (BECA) and Australian Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s Tourism Restart Taskforce alongside, Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia (EEAA) and Meeting & Events Australia (MEA).

These industry-wide efforts have contributed significantly to positive outcomes including the launch of the Federal Government’s $50 million Business Events Grants Program and state-wide eased restrictions for exhibitions and corporate events.

An emphasis on communication has certainly underpinned all of the progress we have made and helped the business events community to assume a position of leadership, setting the tone to rebound and grow.

We are not yet out the other side of this crisis but the recent roll back of restrictions by the NSW Government, the control of Australian infection rates and opening of state borders are all positive indications of an improved operating environment. This is good news for ICC Sydney, the entire business events industry and the many businesses and individuals that rely upon our success.

It collectively gives us a degree of confidence that we can indeed rebuild and move forward on our lengthy journey of recovery to promote Sydney as a safe, world class business events destination.

While we may not have all of the answers right now, I look forward to updating you on our progress as we strive for recovery together in the new year.

Geoff Donaghy, CEO