Home' micenet eMag : micenet December 2016 Contents A
lost horseshoe was lucky for
prospector Paddy Hannan back
in 1893 when he stopped to
re-shoe his steed and
discovered “Hannan’s Find” which led to
hundreds of prospectors flooding Kalgoorlie
in search of the glittering prize. Still one of the
world’s top gold producers the city senses a
new gold in business tourism.
Meetings and events are not unknown in the
city of Kalgoorlie Boulder with the city being
dominated for 25 years by one major event –
the annual Diggers & Dealers Conference.
It is one of the world’s top three mining
meetings, attracting more than 2000
delegates from the mining and finance
sectors around the world. The truth is it
seriously stretches the twin city’s resources.
Early in 2016 city leaders met to discuss how
they could lure smaller, more manageable and
less costly business events, including incentive
groups to this quintessentially Australian
outback location, 300 kilometres and a
50-minute flight east of Perth.
One of the key movers, city councillor
Laurie Ayers, describes it as a “golden
opportunity”. He visited Kalgoorlie 26 years
ago “for three months...and I’ve been there
ever since” - as hotelier, caterer and now
director of Goldfields Conferences and Events.
“Diggers & Dealers is probably one of the
most prestigious conferences in the world,”
“One year it brought 2600 delegates to
town. We have C-level people flying in their own jets from all over the world... it is amazing the
people who come and need to be accommodated, fed, watered, conferenced and to have access
to things like WiFi. We identified that we had the capacity to do events way beyond the norm.”
As it stands the city has about 900 hotel rooms with ensuites, so among the big winners from
Diggers & Dealers are the hundreds of locals who rent out their homes – some worth $2 million
through Airbnb at an average $5000 a week. The owners head to Bali for a holiday as
conference delegates pay dearly for the best bedrooms in town.
One of the directors of Diggers & Dealers agreed to talk to me about the event held in one of
the most isolated locations in Australia. John Langford described how hotelier and former
accountancy partner, Geoff Stokes, came up with the idea to draw more people to the city.
“When Geoffrey first set it up in 1992 the mining industry was a couple of big companies and
a lot of explorers, so the idea when it was first established was for the junior mining companies
to get together and try and do deals, to get some interest from stockbrokers, to do deals with
each other and to create opportunities,” he said.
The first event held in the Stokes family’s iconic Palace Hotel drew 45 attendees and “Geoffrey
deemed dealers had to wear a hat” so the diggers would know who they were talking to.
“In the early days it was slow. We grew to 200, 400 and then we would try and get another
100 in... and everyone would shit themselves and say ‘how the hell are we gonna do that’. It
built up to 700, we looked for another hundred, then it hit 1000 and we didn’t care anymore.
“The largest attendance was 2600 in 2012 – that was when the industry was at a peak, but
we made a decision that was too much for Kalgoorlie... you couldn’t get into the pubs; it just
stretched everything too far,” said John Langford. The limit is now 2200.
Staging Diggers & Dealers required the family-run business to rent the largest marquee in the
southern hemisphere to accommodate the overflow of delegates and exhibitors from the Arts
Centre auditorium. The marquee covers the centre car park and this year hosted 140 booths,
more than 300 delegates watching large video screens of conference content, the rest chatting
with exhibitors. The marquee also hosted a 1200-seat gala dinner after a quick turnaround from
lunchtime on the final day of the three-day event in August.
“People often ask why we don’t hold it in Perth... the only people who don’t talk about that is
us,” he says, admitting that one year they did do the sums on relocating.
“We calculated it costs us $670,000 more to hold the event in Kalgoorlie than it would to hold it
down there (in Perth). Down here you have got the exhibition centre, but we have to take the largest
marquee in the southern hemisphere, a big ticket item,” he says, quickly tallying other costs: trucking
a full commercial kitchen from Perth, caterers flown up in a 100-seat chartered jet, AV equipment
Kalgoorlie is hoping to
strike it rich with a new
kind of gold in 2016 –
Kalgoorlie councillor Laurie Ayers
with his wife Arianne.
PROSPECTING FOR MEETINGS
60 | micenet
Links Archive micenet October 2016 micenet February 2017 Navigation Previous Page Next Page