Sydney remains the most popular city for professional association conferences according to new aggregated data from leading conference sales platform, Conference Monitor.

The appeal of the recently completed ICC Sydney and its surrounding venues continue to attract association conferences. As well, a number of key Sydney hotels that underwent major capital works in recent years have boosted their marketing and are attracting larger numbers of industry and professional events. 

Of the nearly 1,500 industry and association conferences tracked by Conference Monitor in 2018, NSW hosted 400 up from 389 in the previous year. 

In contrast, there was a decline in the number of Australian professional association conferences choosing Melbourne as their host city during the period.  Conference Monitor data showed professional and industry events in Victoria fell by 9% on the previous year, to 296. 

All other states recorded gains last year with NSW remaining the most popular state for association conferences followed by Queensland with 365 association conferences in 2018, up from 302 in the previous year. 

Conference Monitor director, Matt Baxter, said the Melbourne drop off could be a result of strong competition from the other major capitals, especially Sydney which had many key venues back in the market with strong offerings following extensive refurbishments.  Melbourne venues may also be targeting more international conferences or private corporate events that are not included in the industry and professional organisations tracked by Conference Monitor.  

Baxter remained upbeat that Melbourne could return to the top position in the coming years as organisations that were attracted by the opening of the ICC Sydney looked for alternate locations.

 “Melbourne has plenty of great venues and offers real value for association events,” Baxter said.

The CM database contains information on 120 conferences that were held in South Australia, 98 in Western Australia and 78 in the ACT and 53 and 26 in Tasmania and the Northern Territory respectively.  Data on 48 conferences that opted for overseas destinations is also available to subscribers of Conference Monitor.

Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre top for 2018

Despite Melbourne’s drop off in the total number of association conferences, the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre was the most popular single venue for association events last year with 91 tracked by Conference Monitor.

The Brisbane Convention Centre, ICC Sydney and the Adelaide Convention Centre rounded out the top four venues to host professional association conferences, according to the CM data.  The Hotel Grand Chancellor Hobart was the only non-convention centre venue to make the top five.

Baxter said that Hobart and the Hotel Grand Chancellor had worked hard in recent years to increase their profile with professional events and lift market share.

“Our data shows more associations are considering the Apple Isle than ever before.  The Hotel Grand Chancellor Hobart is definitely appearing more on the short list of associations considering events in the southern states,” Baxter said.


QLD still the most popular destination for medical associations

Healthcare and medical associations continue to be the most prolific organisers of conferences in Australia, and Queensland is still their preferred destination.

During 2018, of the 418 healthcare and medical sector conferences tracked in Conference Monitor, 112 were held in Queensland, up from 99 in the previous year.   

The advertising and marketing sector hosted the second the highest number of conferences in 2018 with 190 events tracked by Conference Monitor. Education was the third biggest conference host with 155 recorded last year. 

“For the last few years the top industry sector positions have remained static, but 2018 did see a boom in the services and consulting sector events,” Baxter said.  The services sector jumped into fourth spot with 115 events hosted in 2018, up from 86 the previous year.  The not-for-profit sector saw little growth between 2017 and 2018 with 97 and 96 events hosted in those years respectively. 

September and December quarters still preferred for conferences

Analysis of the 1,484 conferences in the Conference Monitor database last year also confirms that the second half of the year remains the most popular times for conferences, with 888 in total.

September and October were the most popular months to host conferences in the second half of the year and March and May were the most popular first half months.

850,000 to attend conferences in the next 2 years

Conference Monitor tracks more than 8,000 conferences regularly held in Australia and New Zealand. Forward estimates from the database show conferences currently in planning and scheduled to be held over the next two years will attract more than 850,000 delegates to the successful venues.

Conference Monitor’s research team is currently tracking 1,584 conferences that will take place in the next two years, many of which are yet to finalise their venue contracts. Numerous larger events also tracked by Conference Monitor are scheduled even further out (in some cases as much as seven years.) These provide invaluable planning leads for venues and conference organisers.

More conferences are added to the database each week, with around 1,700 events expected to be tracked this year.

Please note: Conference Monitor specialises in tracking conferences organised by Australian professional associations that are held annually in Australian.  We do not generally include visiting international conferences or similar one-off events in our analysis and any have been removed from this research.  Corporate events are also not included in this data piece.     

About Conference Monitor

Hotels and conference venues use the Conference Monitor sales platform to assist with their marketing and forward planning.  Advance knowledge of conference space requirements helps venues to market their services and to allocate resources for the coming year.