Case Study: Australian tourism exchange 2018

15 – 19 April, 2018

The Australian Tourism Exchange (ATE18)—Australia’s largest annual travel and tourism business-to-business event—returned to Adelaide, 15-19 April, 2018.

Hosted by Tourism Australia in conjunction with the South Australian Tourism Commission (SATC) at the Adelaide Convention Centre (ACC), ATE18 brought together tourism industry representatives from across 30 countries for four days of business appointments and networking.

Prior to the April event, ATE had most recently been held in Adelaide in 2010. Its return to South Australia in 2018 provided an ideal opportunity to showcase Adelaide’s transformation along with the ACC’s recent $397M redevelopment. The event was a perfect fit within the Centre’s expanded 20,000sqm footprint.

ATE18 was strategically timed to coincide with Tasting Australia, South Australia’s premium food & wine event. The overlap between the two events enabled the official ATE welcome function to be held at Tasting Australia, which provided a wonderful opportunity to showcase the Country’s vibrant food and beverage scene.

In preparation for ATE18, key members of the ACC team, including kitchen, operations and exhibition staff, attended ATE17 to talk to key stakeholders and gain an understanding of the current format and logistics to aid with event planning.

ATE18 featured a 12,070sqm exhibition stretching across the ACC’s Central and West buildings. Erected during a carefully orchestrated, four-day build, the exhibition featured more than 600 stands.

The exhibition was erected during a complex and carefully orchestrated multi-day build that saw the ACC team implement a number of special strategies. Debriefing notes from 2016 were revisited to identify hot spots for 2018, which further assisted with planning.


ATE18 provided a fantastic illustration of the ACC’s commitment to delivering creative and memorable cuisine.

From the outset, a positive food and beverage experience was highlighted as a key priority, driven by Australia’s perception as a quality food and wine destination (a key tourism message) and past ATE delegate feedback. The client brief also focused on food delivery, demanding an element of interactivity.

A high rate of return to the lunch room by delegates throughout the week highlighted guest satisfaction with the quality, presentation and variety of the food, along with the service and setting.

Key features of the ATE18 food & beverage experience, included:

LUNCH WITH A VIEW: A dedicated 3,000sqm space in the venue’s new East Building served as the ATE18 lunch room. Convenient and accessible, it was located just a short distance from the trade show floor (on the same level) and offered extensive natural light and panoramic views of the Adelaide Riverbank to deliver a heightened sense of destination and an immediate ‘wow factor’. Banks of café seating and live music by ‘Porch Sessions’ helped
build a relaxed atmosphere that saw delegates spend, on average, more than 33 minutes at lunch on the first day, well-exceeding expectations.

BEST OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA: The destination was showcased through a menu featuring the best of local produce, with 97 percent sourced within South Australia. Special touches such as Bickford’s drinks were included as a ‘value add’, building on the uniquely SA theme.

INTERNATIONAL FLAVOURS: To cater for the strong international audience, the menu incorporated both Indian and Asian flavours. Two live “wok” stations added a touch of theatre.

INTERACTIVE DINING: The ACC kitchen team had an increased presence on the lunch room floor, with five dedicated chefs working each buffet, visually reinforcing the ‘freshness’ of the food. The multiple buffets were set up and spaced around the lunch room, with staggered opening times to assist with service and movement; their placement provided opportunity for delegates to walk past and see the chefs ‘in action’ before selecting their food.

SUSTAINABLE PRESENTATION: The ACC team researched and sourced sustainable bamboo bento boxes, which not only added aesthetic value, but served to keep the contents hot. These compostable vessels were in line with both the venue and the client’s sustainability focus, and later disposed via the Centre’s organic waste stream.

ATE HAPPY HOUR: Held on the Wednesday evening, ‘Happy Hour’ was by far the most challenging aspect of ATE18 from a food and beverage service perspective. Essentially nine cocktail parties rolled into one function, staff worked with each state tourism organisation to ensure their state’s local product was showcased, providing assistance with not only sourcing produce, but staffing each stand accordingly. Unprecedented positive feedback was received from all states and territories.


Team Adelaide: Destination & Community Engagement
ATE18 provided a fantastic showcase of not only vibrant Adelaide, but the ‘Team Adelaide’ approach for which the destination is known. Guests were greeted with welcome signage at the airport, with street banners, footpath decals and ATE18 branded ecocaddy transfers further reinforcing event branding throughout the City.At the Centre, giant ATE lettering in the Plaza provided a great impact on arrival, as did a special activation coordinated by the SATC each morning featuring fringe performers (acrobatics and live street art).

Adelaide’s rich arts culture was further demonstrated via a themed evening street parade featuring Adelaide Fringe floats and mobile bars, which took delegates from the Convention Centre down North Terrace on the Tuesday evening. Coordinated by the SATC, the Adelaide City Council were engaged to assist with liquor licensing and coordinate permits to close one lane of traffic during peak hour, while ACC staff were responsible for driving the mobile bar floats (utes) and serving beverages to participants. These elements stand as evidence of the ‘big impact’ events can have in Adelaide, and how the whole City gets behind special events.

Event sustainability was another distinct theme set by Tourism Australia, which perfectly aligned to the Adelaide Convention Centre’s own, long-term sustainability program and EarthCheck Gold certification. Tourism Australia eliminated single-use water bottles, instead supplying delegates with refillable water containers and ‘Keep Cups’ for use at the various ATE cafés. The ACC team arranged for additional water fountains to keep up with demand. In addition, Tourism Australia pledged to plant a tree in South Australia for every delegate in attendance; an interactive display by the main show room doors encouraged delegates to choose the type of plant and location (region). In keeping with the ACC’s strong focus on food recycling, unused food was donated to Foodbank and OzHarvest.


It was a distinct honour for the Adelaide Convention Centre to play host to ATE18. The event not only provided a fantastic showcase of South Australia’s vibrant tourism and food and beverage industries, but provided opportunity for delegates to experience firsthand ‘A City in Transformation, A Centre Transformed’.

From a City perspective, delegates were able to witness Adelaide’s changing landscape, rich arts and festival culture and ease of conferencing, along with the ‘Team Adelaide’ approach for which the destination is known.

From a Convention Centre perspective, the event was ideally timed to showcase the ACC’s expanded capacity, just months after its $397M redevelopment. It also stood as a terrific illustration of the venue’s creative catering and sustainability initiatives.

With strong feedback on food and beverage in particular, ATE18 was dubbed by many as one of the ‘best yet’, reflected in a strong 98% delegate satisfaction rating.


South Australia enjoys an enviable reputation when it comes to our food and beverage. The feedback from ATE delegates was that the Adelaide Convention Centre did an exceptional job in harnessing this. They combined the best of fresh, local produce with creativity and imagination, along with touches of theatre, to create a memorable lunchtime experience. The feedback on the level of service received was also excellent. Our thanks goes to the Adelaide Convention Centre team who provided a very special point of difference for ATE in Adelaide.

– Rodney Harrex, Chief Executive, South Australian Tourism Commission

ATE 2018 was an outstanding success for Tourism Australia, and for Adelaide. The Adelaide Convention Centre was instrumental in helping deliver the event, demonstrating Australia’s capabilities in delivering events of the highest calibre.

– Penny Lion, Executive General Manager Events, Tourism Australia