Interview with Laurent Charbonnier – Disney Business Events

LC – For a number of years I was in charge of the Corporate Events department at Disneyland Paris Business Solutions.

Jean-Christophe, you have been working in Australia for many years. How would you describe the changes undergone by Australia as a destination during those years?

JC – When I started in Sydney 35 years ago, the international clientele was mainly American and Japanese.

To Europeans, Australia still seemed distant, remote and the country had not yet realized or exploited its cultural richness, its natural beauty and unique life style, which now resonate strongly with the newer generations and wilderness lovers.

With the 2000 Olympic games, tourism in Australia really took a big step forward along with a growing awareness of its carbon footprint and the importance of developing eco-friendly solutions and accommodation in the same vein.

Australia is now an important player for the International Events, Conferences and Incentives market.

LC – Is the “country/continent” still an Eldorado for tourism, offering truly unique experiences?

JC – The sheer size of the country means there are so many possibilities!

Each state has a different personality and richness, providing a varied offering and distinct solutions.

Australia is the largest island-continent in the world, with internal deserts and over 30,000 km of coastline. 80% of the 25M population live along the East Coast, Victoria and Tasmania. Only 2.7M inhabitants live in Western Australia with 2.1M concentrated in Perth. This staggering contrast is a unique feature of Australia that travellers really discover once they get there.

It’s also a young country looking to the future, yet home to the world’s oldest living culture.

LC – How do you make your prospects feel more like guests than customers?

JC – At JCM we are not in the business of mass tourism and mass solutions, on the contrary we craft unique solutions to respond to specific requests.

Australians are welcoming, enthusiastic. They love their country ad they like people to take an interest in it.

We take advantage of these qualities to create the affinity necessary for our customers to feel at home in Australia.

LC – How do you allow your visitors to be in touch with this ancient heritage?

JC – This heritage is based on the ancestral Aboriginal culture and the very ancient land on which the country is founded. If there is a genuine interest in these important imprints, we make it a point of honour to initiate in-depth encounters and discoveries.

LC – Are the country’s natural resources diversified?

JC – They are, due to the immense size of the country and the variety of climates encountered depending on the region visited; the influences are very different in the west, centre, north, south and east, both in terms of people and nature. The fauna is unique to the country, on land, sea or in the air and is often most surprising. 

Finally, I’d like to add that Australia is a very responsive and solution-oriented country. Australians are good listeners and have a great deal of practical sense: you’ll notice this whether it’s for your meetings, business delegations, sporting events or incentives.