Key take-aways from the Queensland Events Conference: DestinationQ

Missed attending DestinationQ?

Want to know how to make your tourism event more manageable?
Want to know how to maximise benefits from your region's events?

Here are the key takeouts for Tilma Group director, Linda Tillman, from the recent Queensland events conference.

[Scroll to the end to learn about the biggest event opportunity for regional destinations, and to read TEQ's Event Exec's top 5 takeouts from the conference.]

Maximise your event's legacy

As was done for the Commonwealth Games, destinations need to ensure events leave a legacy for the destination. Destination managers should aim to have event visitors stay longer, come back, and tell their friends what a great time they had in the destination - in other words, become loyal advocates for the destination.

Tourism and events collaborating to create advocacy.png

What infrastructure can be built for the event that will generate legacy benefits for the destination?
Tilma Group client, sponsors of the Adina Polocrosse World Cup 2019 (#shamelessplug: the largest international sporting event to ever be held in rural Australia!) Telstra and Council are getting NBN fibre laid from the town to the sportsground. This will benefit several sports groups and annual events which attract 6,000 spectators each.

What upskilling and capacity-building benefits can the event generate for local event organisers and tourism operators?
For the Polocrosse World Cup, Council and TAFE worked together on a local business development training partnership to help local businesses upskill with the provision of new workshops in marketing, retail, hospitality, business management and volunteering. 

Mackay leveraged Elton John’s concert so well. They named a street after Elton, painted an Elton mural, created a festival around his concert, a northern Queensland band was chosen as the supporting act, the mayor dressed up like Elton and got in every national media... This was a conscious strategy – the destination worked their butts off for two years leading up to the concert to get the maximum value out of it.

Mackays mayor dressed as Elton John.jpg

Key message –
Destinations need to look very closely at how they can generate legacy benefits from events

See the DestQ presentation by Brian Nourse of The Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation on GC2018 – Legacy and Event Sustainability

See the DestQ presentation by Teona Cousin of Mackay Regional Council on How to Actively Engage your Community

Leverage events for destination marketing

This 30 second video successfully integrates events into destination marketing. 

Events are vibrant, fun, and give a reason to visit right now. Look at how you can leverage your events for marketing, brand appeal, and reputational benefit.

Be strategic in using your events as a marketing tool. Don’t just run a random event campaign but align your event marketing activities to your destination strategy and brand. Use your key messages and brand story when promoting events.

And when you acquire or support or promote events, feature those events that activate your brand.

Focus on event sustainability and resilience

Tourism & Events Queensland's excellent Event Guide has a new component on sustainability.

There was a lot of talk at DestinationQ on how events need to create sustainable foundations - solid financial foundations, and processes to avoid volunteer burnout.

QLD Event Guide.png

Invest in content creation

Events need to invest in content creation such as high-quality photos, videos, and blog articles that answer questions people search for about your destination (e.g. Where are the best places to [do activity] in [destination]?) Invest in content of higher quality rather than a lot of mediocre content. 

You can engage influencers to create content for you. (Remember you can apply for grant funding for this.)

Still images are currently getting better engagement than video on Facebook. A great example of excellent use of images is Discover Dindi, who get great engagement (8K followers, 1.2K engagement on posts this week). Their formula is posting several exquisite user-generated photos on whatever attraction they are promoting. 

Example of great images.png

A great example of excellent videos are those produced by Krista Eppelstun for Western Downs (this simple one is a favourite).

One longer hero video can be edited into several shorter ones, each with a different focus, key message or for a different audience.

Strong leadership is key to event success

An effective event committee structure and a leader with a vision that drives all decision-making and activity are vital. Tilma client, Kingaroy Bacon Fest, is a good example of this. This event was new this year, and the event coordinator managed the volunteer team in a way that everyone had a great time and raved about her leadership.

Having a strong leader can be a downside when that leader moves on unless succession planning is active.

And event leaders need to be supported by the community! - by local government, local businesses, community groups and residents. 

Be innovative

For the DestinationQ presentation by Vern Kimball, ex-CEO of the Calgary Stampede, Tilma Group director Linda Tillman was so mesmerised she couldn't even take any notes!

Linda followed up Vern for a one-on-one interview for students of our new venture, rEvents Academy, which helps regional event committees learn how to reinvigorate their events for ongoing sustainability. 

In the words of Vern, in 2000, the event committee of the Calgary Stampede was male, pale and stale. Or in other words, mature, complacent and decreasingly relevant.

Renewal for events is critical.

By 2015, under Vern's leadership, the Stampede had a new strategy, and had had a rebrand and an overhaul of its governance structure. It wasn’t easy to move the committee out of operational thinking into strategic thinking, but it was necessary. For example, in 2000, in a meeting, the committee might discuss the colour of a door for two hours, and then spend just minutes on deciding how to investing a million dollars.

Focus on delivering your strategic plan (under a good leader).

Know (and communicate!) the value of your event.

The Stampede earns $400m from its 1.4m visitors. When Calgary was flooded just 14 days before the 101st Calgary Stampede, Herculean efforts were brought to bear to restore the grounds before the opening day - not only for its economic benefits but to to increase the community's sense of resilience.

See the DestQ presentation by Vern Kimball of Calgary Stampede on Calgary Stampede – Icon, Myth, Relevance, Renewal

The biggest event opportunity for regional destinations is...

MI Associates presented on the current landscape of events in Queensland based on research done for TEQ.

Their tip for the biggest opportunity for regional destinations is...
…mass participation sporting events - masters games, state sporting events, triathlons, etc.

Fun run.jpg

See the DestQ presentation by James Paterson of MI Associates on Setting the Scene – Current State of Play


John Montgomery, the Group Executive of Events at TEQ gave his key takeouts from the conference:

  • Everyone needs to buy in – everyone in the community has a role in supporting an event for it to be success.

  • A good strategy provides clear direction.

  • Quirky homegrown events are powerful.

  • Successful events take time to develop and require a long term approach. Invest in a sustainable and productive way.

  • Every dollar spent on an event is a dollar spent on destination marketing.


See the presentations yourself!

The other presentations that were at the DestinationQ conference were:

And the case studies:



Linda TillmanComment