1980s: making a mark in the burgeoning business events industry

In the 1980s, Arinex Founder Roslyn McLeod (OAM) led her company’s growth by creating unforgettable events for international audiences. Still named Tour Hosts at the time, the company navigated challenges and expanded its services to emerge a leader in the Australian business events industry.

While Tour Hosts entered the 1980s with a reputation for providing language services, tours and hospitality management, a key move in this new decade was a focus on special events.

The team quickly gained attention for creative event design, including a replica of Gulgong – the town featured on the $10 note – for events with an Australiana theme in venues such as Sydney Town Hall. Other themes included ‘A Taste of Australia’, ‘Colonial Australia’ and ‘Life in the Bush’.

The company also sought out unique locations for events, such as Camden Park, the home of John Macarthur on the $2 note, and Yengo at Mount Wilson in the famous Blue Mountains.

Throughout the decade, Tour Hosts continued to strengthen its operations, establishing a finance department in 1980 and gaining a high profile for its work with the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), a role that spanned 13 years.

Tour Hosts’ rising profile earned them a significant part in the Australian Bicentenary celebrations in 1988 – a pivotal time for the entire Australian business events industry. Roslyn cites it as a catalyst for Tour Hosts’ move into conference management.

“Tour Hosts played a key role in managing 61 international and six domestic conferences, providing tours, social and management programs, as well as simultaneous interpreting services for 33 conference assignments,” Roslyn said.

“Our success further built our reputation as a leading provider of language, tour and hospitality management services for international meetings, and set the threshold for our move into conference management.”

Despite Tour Hosts’ success in the 1980s, it was not without its challenges. The Australian recession of 1989, combined with the Gulf War and the Ansett Pilots Strike posed significant challenges for the company and the broader events industry. However, Roslyn used these challenges as an opportunity to pursue business management improvement and position the company for future success.

During this time, Roslyn’s profile as a respected figure in the global events industry also grew. She served as the President of the Association of Conference Executives (ACE), now known as Meetings & Events Australia (MEA), in 1982-83. She also travelled to attend International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) events. Tour Hosts became an official member of ICCA in 1987 and the company (now Arinex) remains a key partner to this day.

Tour Hosts experienced a decade of expansion and innovation during the 1980s, thanks to its delivery of unforgettable events for national and international audiences. This paved the way for the company to solidify its position in Australia’s burgeoning business events industry, setting the stage for further growth in the following decade.

Keep an eye out as we continue delving into Arinex’ 50-year history. Up next: a closer look at the events of the 1990s.