Key Takeouts from the DestinationQ Events Forum in Cloncurry 

140 delegates attended the DestinationQ Events Forum in Cloncurry near Mt Isa in Outback Queensland, including Tilma Group’s MD, Linda.

For those who missed out, here are our key take outs and learnings from the conference. 

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Theme: How the past shapes our future

The conference featured plenty of practical information on event delivery, including 

  • how to work with sponsors

  • packaging events with flights and accommodation

  • getting the most out of research

  • building an enthusiastic and capable volunteer work-force


Charter flight from Brisbane to Cloncurry made the trip possible for many! 

KEY TAKEOUT: Could the government allocate funds to subsidise flights for regional and rural events? Would this be an effective ROI for state marketing contributions?

The conference organised a charter flight for 80 conference attendees flying to Cloncurry from Brisbane and Toowoomba. A travel subsidy was available for attendees from flood-affected tourist destinations.

Cloncurry Airport.jpeg

TEQ and events

John Drummond Montgomery, head of Group Executive Events at Tourism & Events Queensland

KEY TAKEOUT: Every dollar you spend on your event is a dollar spent on marketing your destination

John welcomed all guests to the event and set the scene by reminding us about the importance of events, not just the economic value but also the marketing and social value.

“We cannot underestimate the social value of events - events bring people together in a powerful equalising way“


The extraordinary Christchurch story
How do you plan for and bounce back from the unthinkable?

Sir Bob Parker, Mayor of Christchurch during the earthquake 


KEY TAKEOUT: Councils do not know everything - community engagement is key!

Every disaster, no matter what it is, is about people…not about buildings, not about economies.

15,000 families lost their home in 25 seconds. When the dust settled we began to re-envision our world.

Council engaged the community and asked them to envisage a future for themselves with a ‘Share an idea’ campaign

*First 6 seconds of video are slow

Council received 106,000 ideas from the community – a plan for their community from their community 


How would you as an organisation deal with the worst thing that could happen at your event?


The world’s most remote music festival

Greg Donovan, Event Director of Birdsville’s Big Red Bash 

KEY TAKEOUT: Build a community of event advocates and never spend another cent on marketing! 


People are invested in Big Red Bash (4,300km is the average distance people travel to attend). People are coming from every corner of Australia. Repeat visitation is at 25%.


Build a community for your event, and focus on creating a feeling of belonging:


“I never set out to create a rock concert in the middle of nowhere - if I did I would have had rocks in my head….but look at where we are.”


Why Big Red Bash works 

  • It is totally unique

  • The team strives for relentless pursuit of excellence - having a passionate and experienced team is key to success. 

  • Commercial event model - small family company with 5 staff. We contract out logistics and operations to Event Safety Services in the Blue Mountains and work alongside this team. 

  • 500 volunteers at event time 


What’s next for Big Red Bash? How do you top Midnight Oil in the outback? It’s not about striving for a better band every year, it’s about building a better experience every year - watch this space... 

This would have to be one of my fave events in the world - knowing what Greg and the team have been through to get to this point of success brought tears to my eyes…PROUD!!!!


Resilient Events – A practical guide to future proofing your event 

Jo Jordan, City Events Manager, Ipswich City Council


KEY TAKEOUTS: Does your event need fresh eyes? What are you doing to ensure event resilience?

According to Jo, the most resilient event in Queensland is Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers (yay, go Toowoomba!! Plug: it’s coming up in September - check out the amazing program). Is it just coincidental that this is also Australia’s best festival (3x!) according to the Australian Tourism Awards?

Carnival was put to the test in 2004. It was in bad financial shape, the organising committee had stepped down, audience numbers were decreasing. It was an example of an event that was losing its relevance, and the community was no longer engaged.

Council stepped in and reviewed and reimagined the event. All the event needed was fresh eyes. 


Jo’s 10 tips on how to build a resilient event:

  1. Event brands must align with the destination 

  2. Keep detailed documentation (If you would like templates for your event’s documentation, we can help you)  

  3. Prioritise succession planning - involve the next generation in your event and ensure continuity 

  4. Rotate the bus driver – the event coordinator or president needs to rotate. Aim to change every 3 to 4 years. Certain people are better leaders at different stages of the event.

  5. Plan for the unexpected: What happens if the event manager gets sick? What about if your head act pulls out last minute? 

  6. Embrace change. Events need to be open to change and embrace the opportunities that come with it. 

  7. Diversify your income sources - do not put all your eggs in one basket 

  8. Consult your partners. Don’t assume. Always have an initial meeting without any proposals or assumptions. 

  9. Ask your audience - the most important people. Do not get out of touch with what your audience wants

  10. Sell your event. More resilient events know their audience and how to reach them. Find a balance between traditional and digital marketing. 


rEVENTS Academy is a support program we developed to give event committees tools, resources and team work so they can deliver a high-quality event - in other words, to help build the resilience of your event!
Find out more



Packaging Events 

Sarah Gerrand, Tourism Partnerships, Hello World
Neil Robertson, Manager Group Sales and Tourism Bodies, Virgin Australia


KEY TAKEOUT: People are taking longer to book their holidays. Events need to start planning and marketing well in advance 


What is your event doing to differentiate? 
You can create a unique point of difference via a packaged experience.

Remove barriers to travel with packaging - make it easy and cheaper for people to come. 

How does an event organiser work with companies like Hello World to promote their event? 

  • Start discussions as early as you can to develop partnerships and packages

  • The priority is to keep people in the region longer - package add ons like regional touring to encourage a couple of extra nights. 


  • There is a swing back to domestic travel, so it’s a perfect time to use events to engage the Australian market. 

  • People are booking further in advance (domestic and international). They are taking fewer trips but taking longer to decide on where to go. For the domestic market it is about 3-4 months lead time.

When we work collaboratively we all win!


TAFE Queensland’s New Volunteers and Events Training Program

BREAKING NEWS: TAFE Queensland has a new initiative to train volunteers and event organisers in disaster affected communities.

  • A bespoke training program available to staff of event providers in the affected areas

  • 12 scholarships fpr residents in the affected areas to study in the areas of hospitality, tourism, events and business.

If you are outside the 37 local government areas activated for Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements, rEVENTS Academy can support your committee to gain valuable skills to make planning and delivering your event more efficient and less hard work (and more fun!) Find out more


Volunteering and Events

Mara Basanovic, CEO of Volunteering Queensland
Shane Harris, Manager of Volunteering North Queensland 


KEY TAKE OUT: Volunteering is not about getting stuff done; it’s about helping volunteers achieve their own personal goals and the by-product is getting the work done.


Trend in volunteering: people want short defined experiences that make them feel and see that they have made a difference (This is good for events)

Volunteering Queensland is a good resource for volunteers, as are

 You may also have a local branch in your region – check it out!

These organisations connect volunteers with opportunities, so get your event listed! They are not a volunteer bank, instead they guide incoming traffic to the volunteering opportunities where they are a good match.


Volunteering is not declining (!)

Volunteers come with a range of motives and it is important for us to tap into these motives in order to appeal to volunteers.

Volunteers need good management.



Optimising your research – turning insights into action

Glenn Hardy of TEQ’s preferred event research provider, IER


KEY TAKE OUT: It is vital to understand what is important to your attendees. You cannot create a resilient event without robust research and analysis.

Events play a critical role in encouraging people to spend more and stay longer in a region.

Continue to be innovative - draw on visitor feedback to improve your event to become/remain successful.

I love the energy when Glenn presents - he gets super excited by research and data. Read our blog article based on a previous presentation by Glenn about How to increase your event's economic impact (and how to measure that!)


Sponsorship and commercial success – How to make your event pay

Bryn Skilbeck, Head of Tourism and Major Events at Sunshine Coast Council

Bryn has sat on both sides of the sponsorship negotiation table, which ensured that he delivered a very interesting and effective view point!


KEY TAKE OUT: Events do not have an automatic right to sponsorship! 


Councils are looking at the value exchange, thinking commercially.

Sponsorship is part of a viable commercial strategy, not the only strategy.

Focus your resources - focus on what and who you are targeting. 

Rather than ask how to sell more tickets, think about where the money is being spent by attendees at your event e.g. once they enter the event are they spend on trade sites, food and beverages, etc. Once you know where attendees are spending money you are exposed to potential new revenue streams. Rather than sell more tickets you could increase the trade site fees or take over the running of a food tent.

Two problems events have are.

  • Assuming that we are owed sponsorship 

  • Assuming that it is the sponsors job to leverage the event


Our Tip:

Create a marketing kit to provide to sponsors and other stakeholders and partners to help them understand how they can benefit from the event’s promotional activity, and promote your event to their audiences.


  • Target markets /audiences 

  • Marketing objectives (what your event is aiming to achieve with its marketing activities)

  • Schedule of planned marketing activities 

  • Suggestions for marketing activities for the stakeholders 

  • The festival’s marketing channels (website and social media) and other official channels for event information such as the director’s contact details

  • Where they can sign up to the event’s newsletter to stay up to date on event news

  • Links to an online filing system where they can find

-       Event promotional copy with key messages (50 words and 100 words) 

-       Event logo  and brand guidelines 

-       Social  media  graphics   to share on their social media

-       High resolution images  

-       Video content 

  • Request for content  such as  

-       logo for their organisation 

-       content about the sponsor for social media posts to be used on official event channels   (copy and high resolution images ) 

-       links to their social media channels so the event can follow and engage on their posts


TEQ has a very good resource on how local businesses can leverage events: How working with events can benefit your business


Mindfulness and resilience 

Dr Joann Lukins, a psychologist who works with organisations to deliver their best performance


KEY TAKE OUT: We must look after ourselves before we can look after others!

Jo Lukins has kindly provided extra content that elaborates on the key teachings of her presentations on the importance of Mindset and Resilience. Log into this portal, go to the tab ‘The Locker Room’, click on ‘DestinationQ’; enter password ‘TheCurry’.

How our past shapes our future

Matthew Goldman, Communications Director of New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival
Matthew has helped produced many events of national significance in the USA. It was an absolute pleasure to hear him speak about this amazing event (which is now on my bucket list!)


KEY TAKE OUTS:  If everyone pulls together in the same direction, events can recover from disaster


No matter how big or small your event you need to stay true to your roots. Don’t get distracted by the big names, the artists, the glossy cover....always remember where you came from and provide an authentic and unique experience that only you can offer.

Their 2019 video shares their history of big name performers, but wrapped with the New Orleans culture. 

Hurricane Katrina occurred in 2005, 7 months prior to the festival. At a time like that, having a common project to distract everyone presents an opportunity, so although they had no idea if/how they could get the event to take place, everyone rallied around the event - artists, corporates, government. That event became a reunion for the staff and was the most special festival in its history. 

They had to have the right marketing tone - ‘bear witness to the healing power of music’.


Thank you, Cloncurry! 

A big shout out to the community of Cloncurry – the hospitality, the amazing catering, the shuttle bus service and the amazing school chaplain that made the coffee – what a great host destination! 

Cloncurry experienced record floods in February, losing hundreds of thousands of beef cattle to this natural disaster. Mayor Greg Campbell was very thankful to the state government for hosting the conference in the northwest in the Year of Outback Tourism

What a resilient bunch of people. This is one of the reasons why I love rural Australia. 

 15 things you didn’t know about Cloncurry

What about you? 

Did you attend? What were your key takeouts?

Kushla GaleComment