As the chatty crowd filtered from the pre-function area of Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre into the Plaza Ballroom, the room went dark. Voices ceased. The beating of drums commenced. Three performers from the Aboriginal Centre for the Performing Arts danced around the stage. The audience was mesmerized, with dozens recording the entire 10-minute performance on their phones.
Then the lights came up and Penny Lion, general manager of business events for Tourism Australia, came to the stage and shook us all back to reality that we were, in fact, at a conference.
This was how Brisbane kicked off Dreamtime, the biennial three-day program organized by Tourism Australia that brought 95 buyers and 19 media from the United States, Asia, Europe and Australia to experience the country’s business events offerings. All indications are that the first-time host of the program hit it out of the park.
“We are very happy with buyer satisfaction for Dreamtime 2017 and are confident they will be more likely to consider Brisbane after visiting,” says Rob Nelson, COO of Brisbane Marketing, the city’s official tourism organization.
Incentive planners from the U.S., in particular, were delighted by what Brisbane had to offer.
“I was pleased with how Brisbane has grown into a nice destination with so many activities in and around the city,” says Bill Sellmer of Florida-based Sellmer Meetings & Incentive Travel.
Playing host to Dreamtime couldn’t have come at a better time. Overshadowed in the past by glamorous Sydney and hip Melbourne, Brisbane is forging ahead as an Australian destination in its own right, particularly for incentive groups.