Australia keeping it real

Australia keeping it real

Authenticity is at the heart successful business events in Australia, says Wayne Harris, general manager of GO Conference & Incentive – and he has many examples to prove it.
‘The food and wine in Australia is sensational, not only the quality of the produce but also the standard of service delivery. No one does it better than Australia,’ says Harris. ‘This, combined with a natural Australian, setting can deliver an authentic experience that is hard to match – and for New Zealanders that is the key to a successful incentive. New Zealanders can smell a plastic copy a mile off – they want real places, local characters, tastes and touch points.’

Harris cites a number of business event deliveries to clients that have exceeded expectations and provided the authenticity that he and his clients feel are so essential.
Harris recounts a recent incentive where the client was transported at night to a cane forest and on arrival gathered under a huge banyan tree for pre-dinner drinks.
‘We kept the location a complete surprise,’ he says. ‘After the drinks the group went into a setting where the tables and chairs are set for dinner and it is adjacent to a sugar cane farm, with a massive harvesting machine floodlit close to them. It is a real outback, quintessential Queensland location to be right in amongst the sugar cane.’
Harris says the best was yet to come for the group. ‘The climax of the evening was having a group of horse riders charge in, di sticks into the burning brazier rand then haul the stick into the cane plantation. The can bursts into flame and becomes a spectacular bonfire – so it is a fantastic and dramatic way to end the night.
‘Flames of the Forest in Tropical North Queensland is another great example. The group arrives in the bush in the middle of nowhere and the first thing they encounter is a flame trench across the road. Already a sense of mystery and excitement has been created.’
Harris says the group then enter a clearing, again with a spectacular flame setting, candles candelabra. ‘The lighting, the natural outdoors setting, food and wine, entertainment and the climate all work so well. The whole unique environment creates delivers enrichment as well.’
He adds that New Zealanders who partake in this dinner leave feeling like they have experienced a very special event like they can’t get at home, and feel nourished by that encounter. ‘I think that is the real litmus test of any incentive.’
He says that GO C&I has had groups of 40 to 300 at Flames near Port Douglas. ‘I think that is one of its beauties – the same venue can cater seamlessly for a variety of group sizes.’
Harris says other examples of authentic Australian experiences which have impressed his groups include the Sounds of Silence Dinner at Uluru and the Queen Adelaide carriage in The Ghan between Adelaide and Alice Springs (or on to Darwin).
‘We have demand and interest for these very different dining experiences – we are organising Sounds of Silence with a client now.’
While both different, they again present true Australian experiences – dinner on the red sand under a spectacular southern sky, or an exclusive trip on one of the world’s greatest train journeys.
Harris also highlights a perhaps lesser known Northern Territory option as well.
‘Groups are always impressed by Ooraminna Station. They head into the outback from Alice Springs by 4WD and eventually arrive in a place with just one old pub, miles of red earth in every direction and a windmill turning overhead. Then they are served Australian delicacies and bush tucker and, again, they can have an amazing night sky experience.
‘Again it is the authenticity that’s so impressive and it provides those “postcard” memories that people want. These are things they can’t do at home, yet they are so accessible and easy to get to.’
He says such examples show that groups do not need to be in Australia’s big cities – though these too can provide different and memorable programmes for New Zealanders.
‘You can go to Adelaide and head to the Barossa Valley or McLaren Vale. Kiwis appreciate good quality wine and at these places it is combined with some of the finest food. In Adelaide itself, we have taken out whole streets for a dinner and that is a fantastic experience.’

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