Case Study: Informa’s Northern Territory Resources Week, Oct 2021

By Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia , 23 November, 2021

Late October 2021 saw the return of the face-to-face Northern Territory Resources Week at the Darwin Convention Centre (after being postponed two months from the original dates in early September due to COVID).

This landmark event comprises three individual conferences – South East Asia Australia Offshore & Onshore Conference (SEAAOC), Mining the Territory, and the Environmental Management & Logistics Forum – with a shared trade exhibition. The event is known as the key meeting place for the resources industry in Northern Australia – and very much is seen as the annual opportunity to catch up with colleagues from the sector in Darwin.

The 2020 event was forced to go digital, which wasn’t that well received by the industry given one of the main purposes in attending is the many networking functions. Hence in 2021 the wider resources industry relished the chance to catch up in person again after almost two years apart – and this resulted in record attendee numbers across the various functions. The major challenge Informa faced was that although delegates and speakers from South Australia, West Australia, Queensland, and the Northern Territory were allowed to attend in person, the NT border closure wouldn’t allow our team which is based in Sydney to actually be on site to run the event.

Informa engaged the services of a local PCO based in Darwin – Agentur – and we set about establishing a “shadow team” so that Informa’s respective NT Resources Week team members had a counterpart that could be their representative at the event. After many zoom calls to bring Agentur up to speed on the various elements we had to rely on the local PCO delivering the event on the day – which they did very successfully. As an aside Informa had even tried having several staff apply to quarantine for two weeks in the NT, but this application was denied by the NT health authorities. We were fortunate enough to have a single Informa staff member – who lives in Perth – to be seconded to the event in Darwin given that border restrictions did not preclude them from entering from WA.

NT Resources Week was a fantastic success with record numbers, sold out Gala Dinner, sold out Harbour Cruise and glowing testimonials from speakers, delegates and sponsors. This as a remarkable achievement given the fact that delegates were not able to attend from NSW, Victoria, the ACT nor from overseas.

The constant worry was that a COVID outbreak in WA or the NT could derail the event at any moment in the weeks and days leading up to the event, and we were very relieved to see the event take place without any issues. The incredible situation arose a few days after the event was held – the Northern Territory did experience several cases of COVID (not from our attendees) which resulted in Darwin entering a lockout and various restrictions being introduced which would have likely derailed the event.

The key lesson learned was that until we had actually held the event we “didn’t have it in the bag”.