On behalf of the team at Cliftons, I wanted to start by wishing you all a happy and safe festive season. It's been another tumultuous year as we all ride the waves of inflation, but it's great to see positive signs ahead. For me, in Sydney, I'm looking forward to a summer of (hopefully) hot days and the chance to spend time with my nearest and dearest. I hope you all get to embrace the opportunity to relax and recharge with the people you love.
Looking back over 2023, seeing the strong revival of the business events sector has been incredible. Face-to-face events are back, and we see strong trends in the return to in-person meetings, corporate events and large-scale conferences. People crave that connection that comes from meeting up in person, and events are a fantastic way to deliver that – especially as many people continue to work remotely for much of their time.
Our Horizons event series in October and November was an incredible success, with attendee feedback strongly emphasising how good it was to be at events in person. For me, speaker highlights included The Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG, who shared his thoughts on a range of emerging issues like workplace equality, cybersecurity and the rise of AI, as well as Brad Twynham's moving welcome ceremony and insights from speakers such as Dominic Thurbon.
Speaking of AI, that's absolutely a trend that we see further shaping the business events world in 2024. It's a space that's rapidly developing, and there's a lot we still need to learn. Still, the capacity to streamline event planning and more sophisticated applications is an exciting technology to explore.
The trend towards immersive experiences is gaining momentum, with strong interest in add-ons to business event bookings. Things like dark dining experiences, team building challenges like an amazing race across the CBD, and motivational speakers are at the top of clients' wish lists. And, of course, considering ways to use various technology platforms, AV and styling to create a dynamic and seamless experience continues to evolve.
It's undeniably an exciting time for the business events sector. That's why I'm also incredibly honoured to be named the chair of Meeting and Events Australia just this month. Together with my fellow board members and the MEA team, we'll navigate challenges, identify growth opportunities, and foster an environment of excellence, innovation and collaboration for members and industry.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on how we can continue to shape the business events space to ensure you are getting value – whether that's exclusive to Cliftons or, more broadly, in my MEA role. Staying attuned to client needs is vital as we continue to shape the industry and deliver on our commitment to providing remarkable event experiences.
All the best for a fun, festive season, and I look forward to continuing to support your business event needs in 2024.