Diversify your delegate mix: Attracting delegates with young families
No matter how appealing a conference program is, taking time away from family to attend a business event in another city can be a difficult decision to make. For delegates with young children in particular, this can often mean opting out of a conference that may hold opportunities for career growth and networking.
The Brisbane Convention Bureau assists conference organisers to attract a full and diverse delegation by developing packages and providing useful information to support budget-conscious delegates travelling with their families to a conference destination.
Covering the cost: accessing grants
One of the biggest hurdles faced when considering attending a conference or business event is an obvious one: cost. Grants are increasingly being accessed and offered by event organisers to assist underrepresented delegates attend conferences, such as women, people from rural and remote areas, and people of diverse cultural backgrounds.
For example, Advance Queensland’s Women’s Academic Fund encourages female researchers to return to their research careers following maternity leave by providing funding to them to attend or present at a conference. Grants such as this can provide valuable financial support for delegates travelling with young families. The Brisbane Convention Bureau can assist conference organisers to identify and access funding grants.
Brisbane is one of the most accessible cities in Australia, with Brisbane Airport’s two major terminals servicing 29 airlines and flying to 76 destinations. From 2020, the skies will open up even further routes when a new $1.35bn parallel runway becomes operational. The Convention Bureau can assist in organising group and discount fares with select airlines.
From the moment delegates touch down, travelling with families is easy. Transport deals are available for delegates travelling to Brisbane for a conference, including discounted tickets for the Airtrain, which takes just 20 minutes from the airport to Brisbane CBD. Better still, children under 14 years of age travel free if travelling with an adult.
Once in the city, there are multiple public transport options. The $12 go Event card is an easy public transport options with three days' unlimited travel on buses, trains, CityCat and ferry services via the TransLink network. Staying in Brisbane a little longer? The card can be extended at an additional cost.
Brisbane offers a number of free transport options. The distinctive red City Loop buses take passengers around a CBD route of popular stops including the Botanic Gardens, Queen Street Mall, City Hall and Eagle Street Pier - all for free. Delegates and their families can also take in the sights by water via one of the regular CityCats or a free CityHopper ferry service.
Brisbane is also compact enough to get around by foot, with a network of walkways and bridges connecting to parks, cultural precincts, shopping and dining options. If the legs get tired, Green Cabs offer a safe and sustainable option.
Finding the right accommodation
Brisbane has experienced a growth in hotel supply in recent years, with 18 hotel projects completed since 2013 thanks to an incentive offered by Brisbane City Council.
New offerings such as the ibis Styles and Holiday Inn Express are designed for savvy travellers looking for a convenient location and added services where it matters most, such as on-site dining and guest laundries. Brisbane can also cater to families looking for apartment style accommodation. The Oaks Charlotte Towers, Meriton Apartments, Belise, Menso at South Bank, The Capitol Apartments, Mantra on Queen, Code Apartments, Alex Perry Hotel and Apartments and Evolution Apartments are just some of a range of self-contained and serviced accommodation accessible around the city.
Attending a conference at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre? Here are six of South Bank's best nearby hotels to make you feel at home during your stay. If central accommodation is what you're looking for, look no further than Visit Brisbane's comprehensive guide to accommodation in the City.
Put your wallet away
There are plenty of free and fun things to do throughout Brisbane that will keep the kids - and adults - occupied. The city’s visitor information centres in Queen Street Mall and South Bank make a great first point of call. The volunteers in the centres are knowledgeable and helpful locals who can help with bookings, entertainment ideas and special deals.
Delegates and their families can see Brisbane through the eyes of a local on a Brisbane Greeters tour. These volunteers host free three-hour tours in Brisbane about almost any topic - Greeter's Choice, your choice or even give the option to see the sights via CityCycle.
As Australia’s largest free live music program, City Sounds features local and touring artists belting out everything from alternative to folk, to jazz and electro throughout Queen Street Mall, Post Office Square and South Bank.
Just across the bridge from the CBD, the Queensland Museum, Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) stand side-by-side and offer free entry. QAGOMA has a Children’s Art Centre with a program of interactive installations and activities for kids and families. The exhibitions are high in quality and definitely worth a visit - one of the key ones coming up is ‘Marvel: Creating the Cinematic Universe’ (ticketed and running 27 May – 3 Sept 2017 at QAGOMA). The State Library has a special Kids Corner with reading fun and games for children under eight years.
In the South Bank Parklands, Little Days Out hold free children’s workshops every Thursday from 9am-1pm, focusing on fun activities such as gardening, science and art. The Parklands are packed with family-friendly activities, including the Aquativity area and Australia’s only man made city beach – Streets Beach, offer hours of fun and relaxation. Not far from Streets Beach the kids can discover exotic plants and fragrant herbs at Epicurious Garden.
Within the CBD the City Botanic Gardens and Roma Street Parklands make a perfect place to throw down a picnic rug or take a leisurely stroll along lush green lawns. Kids can explore modern playgrounds or board the popular trackless train for a gold coin donation in the Parklands.
A year-round events calendar
World Science Festival
Brisbane's subtropical weather means that outdoor festivals are a year-round occurrence - 283 days of sunshine per year also helps. Brisbane attracts a wealth of other cultural, arts and sporting events to complement its calendar of festivals, meaning there is always something for delegates and their families to enjoy outside the conference venue. Brisbane’s event calendar presents a range of appealing festivals for conference organisers to align with. Weave them into the wider conference itinerary, or promote them as a reason for delegates to bring along their families or extend their stay.
Held every March, the World Science Festival Brisbane is a five-day celebration of everything science related. Along with a number of free children’s activities, the festival attracts some the world’s biggest names in science, making it the perfect alignment opportunity for science conferences. The Out of the Box festival is a biennial festival for children aged eight years and under. Held at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) in June, the festival features eight days of cultural activity and learning-based play. For foodies and their families, Regional Flavours features cooking demonstrations, kids activities and most importantly, delicious food from Queensland’s regions and is held over two days every July.
The Ekka is held over ten days every August, and showcases the best of Queensland in a fun carnival atmosphere. From livestock to wood chopping, gourmet food and wine, and fireworks – the Ekka has it all. In September, the three-week Brisbane Festival attracts around one million people to a program of theatre, music, dance and circus-style performances. The festival culminates in Riverfire – an explosive evening of fireworks that light up the city skyline. We recommend arriving early and snapping up a spot along the river in South Bank.
Eating in the streets
Jan Powers Farmers Markets
Brisbane is full of dining options to suit any taste and dietary requirement. Eat Street Northshore replicates an Asian-style street market where a delicious selection of international food is dished up from around 180 shipping containers while fairy lights and live music create a welcoming and vibrant scene. The markets are open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday and $2.50 will get you through the door (kids under 12 get in for free).
The Jan Powers Farmers Markets are held at Reddacliff Place every Wednesday, bringing the country to the city with a selection of fresh produce, sweet delights and international cuisine.
Just across the bridge, the South Bank Markets offer a variety of delicious food choices and market goods within the popular South Bank Parklands and are held Friday evenings as well as Saturday and Sunday.
Access to additional services
One of the most important considerations for delegates travelling with a family is, of course, the availability of high quality health services. Brisbane is recognised worldwide as a safe and clean city, but if a delegate or their family member becomes unwell, there are easily accessible, high quality health services available.
There are a range of medical centres dotted around the CBD, however delegates can access affordable after hours and home care through services such as DoctorDoctor. The city also has a number of late night chemists, and a 24-hour pharmacy at Greenslopes Private Hospital, just 12 minutes from the CBD. There are also a number of childcare providers catering to families visiting Brisbane for business and leisure, many of which have longstanding relationships with hotel operators.
For more information on how to attract and assist conference delegates travelling with families, contact the Brisbane Convention Bureau.