“There’s no plan B”: Businesses give corporate boxes a miss at this year’s Australian Open


Tennis star Serena Williams.

In any other year, businesses would have booked their corporate tickets for the Australian Open months ago, found some clients to spoil, and planned the event down to the minute.

But with the global pandemic still teetering along, and with it the potential of outbreaks and snap restrictions, some businesses have ditched a day out at this year’s Australian grand slam.

A spokesperson from MYOB says while their workplace has hosted Australian Open events it the past, interstate travel restrictions meant that it wasn’t practical this year.

“As many of our stakeholders are interstate and various travel restrictions are still in place, we don’t have plans for anything like this in the near future,” the spokesperson says.

Similarly, Belinda Coates, director of clients and strategy at property and construction advisory firm Slattery, decided to hold off on booking a corporate box this year.

“While we absolutely love the Australian Open, and it’s a really relaxing event to spend time at with clients, there’s been a lot of ongoing disruptions and I think that we just wanted to take it slowly,” Coates tells SmartCompany.

“I imagine many businesses feel a little gun-shy, having cancelled various events over the course of 2020,” she adds.

The Australian Open boasts four private spaces, including superboxes, Rockpool Dining, Player Pods and the Lounge. The superboxes, situated in the Rod Laver Arena, host 6 to 12 people and include a range of dining options serviced by waitstaff.

Coates says it became increasingly difficult to plan functions with any confidence last year, after she had to cancel several corporate events.

“At the moment, with the disruptions, there’s no plan B. The plan B is lockdown, so that’s difficult,” she explains.

Victoria has not recorded any cases of locally transmitted cases COVID-19 for 15 days.

However, as of yesterday, there were three COVID-19 cases linked to the Australian Open and its international players and teams who flew into the country last week.

The Australian Open is following the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services’ COVIDSafe guidelines, including having a reduced capacity across its venues, mandatory face masks indoors and digital ticketing, among other safety measures.

Despite these safety measures, Coates says she thinks it is still too soon to invite her Melbourne-based clients to a large in-person event.

“There’re a lot of businesses in Victoria who have only just started coming back at 50% to the office and they’ve been working from home for 10 months,” she explains.

The Victorian government relaxed its work from home orders from Monday, January 18, to allow office workplaces to have 50% of their staff on-site.

Despite the shifting restrictions, Coates says she has no plans to stop hosting corporate hospitality events in 2021 and has already committed to the Melbourne Fashion Festival in March.

“We’re really committed to culture in Australia, and we like to support sporting and cultural events where we can,” she says.


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