The Launceston Chamber of Commerce has released a Market Assessment Report that considered a purpose built Convention Centre for Launceston today.
The report produced by convention experts, GainingEdge, based in Melbourne and servicing global markets, did not recommend undertaking a more in-depth financial feasibility for a Purpose-Built Convention Centre in Launceston at this stage. However, the consultants did encourage the city to continue to plan for such a facility in the future. The report also indicated that Launceston should be performing better currently with the facilities it currently has in place.
The Executive Officer, Maree Tetlow, said that “Launceston should definitely be planning for a Convention Centre in the Future. Cities of any significance do build these facilities as they contribute to the economic, intellectual and cultural capacity of a city. The global engagement that visiting specialists bring when they attend various conventions in a convention city far out ways the direct cost of those facilities. That being said, 90% of all Australian business events are currently less than 500 delegates – and Launceston has the current facilities to host most of these events. There is work to do however, to improve our convention services and other infrastructure to more effectively compete in this market.”
The report also stated that whilst Launceston does not currently have a purpose built convention centre, there a multiple venues catering for 300-500 delegates. They are currently not reporting a high volume of meetings above 200 delegates and very little business is currently being turned away at the 300 delegates conventions or more.
The consultants also interviewed some interstate meeting planners and they indicated there was no real latent demand for Launceston that is constrained by the lack of a larger purpose built facility. Insights from the meeting planner interviews indicated that “even if 500-1000 delegate purpose built facility was built, other related infrastructure (hotels, off site venues, air access) and low membership base would limit number of potential 500+ delegate events.” The membership base referred to by meeting planners – is the number of delegates that would normally attend a conference from within the host city.
The report stated that Launceston may be under-performing in the 200-500 delegate conventions. It went on to state that an opportunity for immediate intervention that would help Launceston overcome some negative perceptions would be strengthening Launceston’s destination promotion and events servicing. The most effective way of accomplishing that would be through Destination Marketing Organisation (DMO) activities focusing on Launceston’s events business – business development, sales, marketing, event support, and product development. This might best be pursued in partnership with Business Events Tasmania and/or Tourism Northern Tasmania.
Ms Tetlow went on to say that “The Chamber is keen to follow up with the Launceston City Council and our other stakeholders to investigate how we might fund a locally-based business events coordinator linked in to Business Events Tasmania. That would be the optimal outcome from our perspective. We feel that Launceston needs some targeted attention around our convention branding and development of our suppliers to better cater to the convention market. Business Events Tasmania already has good databases and other assets and systems that can benefit Launceston – but this organisation is not well funded and they don’t have the resources to include a specialist based in Launceston. We need to see that happen as soon as possible.”
Other improvements recommended in the report included: • 1,000 additional rooms in 4 – 5 star known brand hotels with at least one 200 – 250 room property. • Improvements to direct air access from more Australian capitals and at least hourly service from Melbourne during peak hours. • Improvements and upgrades to the current convention facilities including Albert Hall – which needs upgrading to be considered a more suitable large off-site venue and a better quality exhibition facility to support national conventions.
Although the plans regarding Errol Stewart’s new Silo Hotel development at North Bank, which includes function space for up to 500 people, was not released at the time this report was compiled – Ms Tetlow stated that “this new development aligns well with the recommendations in the report, and will add more hotel rooms and convention capability to our city – so we are definitely moving in the right direction”.
Media Inquiries Contact: Maree Tetlow 0408 825 060 or 03 6331 9364 END MEDIA RELEASE