Geoff Parmenter

Geoff Parmenter

Chairman – New Sydney Waterfront Company


Session title

Major events – The true shopfront of a place?


An event can speak volumes about a place. Consider the difference between Sydney’s Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras, and Oktoberfest in Munich. Dark MOFO in Hobart and the Gold Coast 500 V8s.

Hosting the right event can serve multiple, simultaneous, beneficial purposes for a range of stakeholders in a place. From the definition and promotion of a place’s identity, to commercial stimulus and economic development, to community engagement and pride, and social cohesion, major events may be unique in their capacity to deliver this range of benefits to a place and its various stakeholders.

This multiplicity of potential outcomes presents a challenge for prospective hosts however. Being clear on the desired benefits and the stakeholders that will enjoy those benefits is critical. That clarity provides a frame of reference to guide event targeting or design, and inform strategic choices around investment in content and leveraging activity.

Geoff Parmenter has implemented this strategy for a range of places around Australia and internationally since the pioneering days of Events NSW and Vivid Sydney in 2008/09. With clients across Australia, Europe and Canada, he will share some of the learnings and principles that have emerged from that experience.


Geoff has 30 years’ experience in tourism and events, hospitality, entertainment and sport – in Australia and overseas.

From 2007-2011 he was Chief Executive of Events NSW, the pre-cursor to Destination NSW, responsible for developing the first structured annual events calendar for Sydney and New South Wales. They established a number of major new bespoke events such as Vivid Sydney and Opera on Sydney Harbour.

New Sydney Waterfront Company