THIS year’s Surat Basin Energy and Mining Expo is expected to be even better than the inaugural expo the previous year, following the implementation of new marketing strategies to strengthen event awareness, increase attendance and further support Queensland’s
resources sector.
After undertaking research in the region, Queensland-based Australian Events devised the idea of the expo and formulated the event program, with the first ever Surat Basin Energy and Mining Expo held in June 2011.
Australian Events director Bob Carroll said that the company’s affiliate, Carroll Media and Marketing, was then used to implement effective marketing strategies.
This year’s approach involves utilising the APN media group’s network to promote the event in APN regional newspapers from Central NSW to North West Queensland and on APN’s radio network.
The expo is also being promoted in in-flight magazines on both domestic and international flights.
In addition, other media forms including television and social networks will be used to advertise the expo.
“The Surat Basin is on the edge of the biggest economic and population growth in its history. It will maintain its position as the biggest producer of coal – tripling its production by the year 2020 to almost 700 million tonnes a year,” Mr Carroll said.
“This is significant in coal alone. Then you have gas and other natural resources that are being pulled out of the ground from this region,” he added.
“There is enormous opportunity for investment in the [region].” Mr Carroll said about 7000 extra workers would be needed in the basin by 2020 to support the anticipated growth.
“And that is not accounting for the additional population required to service supporting industries, and natural population spread and growth. “
The Surat Basin comprises the local government areas of Toowoomba, Western Downs, Maranoa, Dalby, Chinchilla and Roma.
Mr Carroll said that the majority of new workers in the basin would live in Toowoomba, Western Downs and Maranoa. Many new mine employees would relocate with their families, which would in turn create the need for extra staff in shopping centres, schools, health services and other similar industries to support the population growth.
“We’ve seen [this] in Mackay, where they’ve established a [shopping] centre at Canelands: they have had a real job getting people to work in the new shopping precincts because it was a different type of worker.
“Previously, the push had been on getting skilled and semi-skilled workers for mining in the Bowen Basin. Then it was found other areas were lacking. As that community grew, people needed to buy radios, televisions, clothes, boots, shirts and produce, and they need people to be involved in those industries.
“It is a complex area of growth for [the Surat Basin] and something they’ve never experienced previously.”
He said part of the aim of the expo was to raise awareness and act as a recruitment drive to attract skilled and support staff to the region.
Mr Carroll said that Queensland Resources Council chief executive Michael Roche had predicted the state’s boom would boost royalties by about $10 billion a year.
“This is three times the current amount of money that came out of it in the last financial year. State-wide they are looking for an additional 40,000 workers [by 2020].”
In the beginning
Last year, the inaugural two-day expo attracted 425 exhibitors and almost 6500 delegates.
More than $6 million was injected into the Surat Basin region as a result of the event, with $52 million in sales made at the expo. Sales are expected to rise to more than $100 million this year.
“Last year, 18 per cent of all visitors to the event were specifically there looking for information on employment, career opportunities and changes,” Mr Carroll said. “We found a lot of companies have devoted their entire stand this year to attracting new staff and new career-minded people to their companies.
“The other thing we have found through general data research and researching visitors to Surat in June last year [and at similar expos in other Queensland regions] was that we have a lot of interest from workers
in other states: Western Australia,South Australia, Northern Territory and even northern remote parts of Queensland. [Workers] are eyeing the Surat Basin development with great interest because they see a pleasant change for them in lifestyle: they can live and have their families based in Toowoomba, which is two hours from Broadbeach or Surfers Paradise by car and an hour and a half to [the] Brisbane CBD.
“This is a significant attraction, plus the fact that Toowoomba has some of the best schools in Australia, excellent sporting clubs and facilities. It is a well-managed city.”
The expo is an opportunity for organisations to promote services and products, generate additional sales and leads, accelerate the process, build market awareness, network with like-minded businesses and
strengthen business relationships with face-to-face contact.According to Mr Carroll, about 80 per cent of the visitors attending the expo will be there for the networking aspect.
Products that will be on show at the expo include hire equipment, bearings, pumps, conveyors, boring and blasting tools, earthmoving machinery, tanks, tools, specialised mining apparatus, computers and
software, and air conditioning systems.
Exhibitors will include companies offering the following services: drilling, pipeline construction, scientific analysis, project management, electrical, maintenance and repair, welding, erosion control, transport, security and safety systems, fuel and lubrication, surveying and engineering, wastemanagement, residential and commercial construction, health and social, hospitality, cleaning, catering, communications, accounting and administration, human resources and training.
Mr Carroll said many of the companies that operated in remote areas of WA and other states were experienced in growing businesses in harsh environments.
“Those people are bringing their expertise and are looking for partners in the Surat Basin.”
The Toowoomba Regional Council will facilitate networking at the expo and afterwards.
“The new mayor is very active and easy to work with. Maranoa and Western Downs [councils will also be represented at the expo and] – are very progressive and interested in talking to anyone who wants to relocate their business, or is looking for incentives and information.
“We found in 2011 that 24 per cent of the delegates told us that they would be establishing an office in this region or, at the very least, they would be establishing a dealer network.” Mr Carroll said the Surat Basin had already seen office space shortages in the regional centres and that there was an opportunity for investors to purchase and develop land.
He said that many of the companies from the 2011 expo had returned to carry out further research and make more connections.
“We know that there were sales recorded as a result of [the 2011 Surat Basin Expo] in excess of $100 million. We can expect that level to increase,” Mr Carroll said.
“It is clear there is significant business being done already from last year’s event and we already know from the feedback from companies which have already rebooked, and new companies coming online, that they are here and serious about doing business. That’s the nature of the event.