Australia’s enduring allure for incentives

Expert Opinion
Australia’s enduring allure for incentives

CMW hears from The Asembl Group’s CEO Gavin Farley on whom the Tourism Australia Dreamtime incentives programme made a big impression and he shares here some of the ideas gained that he intends putting forward to European clients in the new post-Covid era:


Prior to the pandemic, fresh from an incentive in Sydney and a submersion into the possibilities of Perth, thanks to Tourism Australia signature’s incentive showcase event Dreamtime,  UK-based The Asembl Group was looking to grow its presence in Australia due to strong demand for the destination. Now, they’re keenly anticipating the reopening of Australia’s international border and ready to start plugging the land Down Under once again.

According to The Asembl Group CEO Gavin Farley, interest in incentives to Australia in 2019 and early 2020, was “incredible”. After returning from Dreamtime in Perth – having experienced the direct Qantas flight to London – the agency began putting forward Australia as an option to almost every client.

“We’re massive advocates of Australia,” says Farley, who notes his business has been reaping the benefits of England’s autumn reopening, which has demonstrated the healthy appetite for corporates to get back to meeting face-to-face – and, hopefully soon, to travelling abroad in greater numbers.

In the UK, demand accelerated in a vertical trajectory when restrictions were scaled back in the summer and autumn. “It went crazy,” Farley says, adding: “We’ve seen what happens when normality comes back.

“We’ve seen the spike in demand, that willingness to return to face-to-face events. We’ve seen that the appetite, the budgets and the spend are there.”

Of course, there has been a step back again in many regions of the world, including the UK, as the omicron wave has blown in for winter, but while the concentration is currently on events within the UK and short haul destinations for Farley and many other European agencies, incentives to Australia will be back on the cards, he is sure, once Australia’s international border reopens.

“We will push [Australia] as much as we can. We know the feedback from our clients when they’ve gone is unbelievable,” says Farley. “Australia has only got better – it’s now even more of a mystical place.”

For incentives to Sydney, climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, visiting the Opera House, tours of the harbour and dinner at Sydney institution Icebergs Dining Room and Bar overlooking Bondi Beach are high on the agenda for Farley, and especially for clients who haven’t been to Australia before.

In Perth, Farley says he became obsessed with Little Creatures beer, which was founded in nearby Fremantle, and a tour of the original brewery is a highly recommended incentive activity. So, too, is a trip to Rottnest Island to get a selfie with a photogenic quokka (see main photo) – a type of small wallaby. From there Farley recommends a helicopter ride to drinks and dinner on Cottesloe Beach and spending some time in the vineyards of the iconic Margaret River region, around three hours’ drive – or a shorter scenic flight – from Perth. He is also keen to take an incentive group to Optus Stadium in Perth, where dinners can be hosted on the pitch itself. Hopefully guest delegates can remain on the field longer than the average English cricket batter:)

Little experiences that Farley was able to taste during Dreamtime in Australia, he says, have helped him sell the destination to clients, such as experiencing kangaroos bounding across the golf course halfway through a round.

“The destinations and the places that you can go and see across two or three days in Australia…versus what Europe has to offer…is mind-blowing,” Farley concludes.

Some more examples of new Australian incentives offer include:

  • In Cairns, a trifecta of new five-star hotels has been completed, with the opening of Crystalbrook Flynn.
  • Off the Cairns coast, the Dreamtime Island pontoon will open on the Great Barrier Reef in 2022, with up to 350 people able to explore the reef off the first new pontoon in over a decade.
  • In Melbourne, the Southern Hemisphere’s first permanent digital art gallery, THE LUME, has debuted at Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, offering corporates an 11m high immersive branding opportunity.
  • Perth has opened its first floating venue, The Raft, and its largest commercially available rooftop venue atop the Art Gallery of Western Australia.
  • In Sydney the city’s tallest hotel room has come onto the market in the new six-star 349-room Crown Towers Sydney.
Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World. Write Paul an E-mail

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