We’re honoured to have had the pleasure of hosting 6 inspiring guest speakers to discuss one of Melbourne and Bandung’s shared city challenges — how might we use creative and innovative solutions to reimagine tourism/visitor experiences to reach new audiences and revitalise the tourism industry post-COVID?

We hope you were just as inspired and energised as us throughout the session! We also want to take this opportunity thank all 200 of you for attending and our guest speakers for generously take time out of their busy lives to join us.

This session was the third of four events in our Melbourne-Bandung Innovation Series. Attending at least two of these events live makes you eligible to participate in our pitch competition in August, with cash prizes and other exciting goodies to be won. If you were present in the zoom call for this event, that will count towards your eligibility.

Find out more about Pitch Competition


The highlights

On Wednesday we hosted 6 incredible speakers with our collaborating team at City of Melbourne to talk about creative approaches to tourism in the new post covid world. 

Our experts Kenny Dewi Kaniasari, MA and Fides Mae Santos-Arguelles set the scene with an overview of the tourism sectors in both Bandung and Melbourne and the current challenges faced.

We then heard from four fabulous innovators & entrepreneurs Indra GunawanDanny SmithAdi Panuntun and Simone Dowding who presented innovations including a capsule hotel (Bobobox), a real-life arcade game where your body is the controller (MV Arcade –SAGE Automation), an audiovisual, interactive art installation in a forest (Sembilan Matahari) and localised, storytelling audio guide series (Storytowns).

Let’s hear more about what can we learn from our speakers:

Kenny Dewi Kaniasari

Head of Culture and Tourism Department, City Government of Bandung

Through painting the picture of Bandung, a ‘ City of Design’ since 2015,  as a tourist destination for 7 million people a year we gained insight into what Bandung was like pre-covid. A vibrant city underpinned by a buzzing fashion and music ecosystem.  Even though tourism has, not surprisingly, reduced by 60% since the pandemic began there is hope in the recovery phase and leading the way to define covid normal tourism.  From sharing about the use of creative spaces in regional markets, digital art spaces, farm stays – and celebrating its diverse cultural heritage  – Kenny really set the scene of hope through collaboration, innovation and creativity that was mirrored in our guest speakers in this session.

Fides Mae Santos-Arguelles

Founder and Director, Fides & Associates

It is undisputed that 2020 was full of unprecedented challenges – devastating bushfires and then the pandemic.  The recovery phase is still uncertain and changeable but a few things became very clear in Fides’ presentation – Melbourne is a key driver for tourism in all of Victoria, and the decline city users in an environment where the competition for visitor spend between Australia’s states has never been more fierce, means that strategies to immediately encourage visitor spend need to remain front and centre in marketing and recovery efforts for Melbourne. 

Fides shared incredible initiatives that were underpinned by diversity, authenticity and covid safe practices.   Flinders Quarters Augmented Art Walk – 12 artwork treasures that come to life in Melbournes CBD – highlighted the importance of a hyperlocal focus to serve creative, independents, hospitality folk and retailers as a part of the solution. This project had great insights over the 2019 – 2021 period that highlighted the benefit of real-time data collection of the project.   Melbourne Money, a priority on First national led experiences and Citizen M for contactless hotel experiences all contributed to the fact that remarkable innovations and creative collisions will feature in the recovery of all economies and communities.  We think that is equal parts inspiring, hopeful and exciting.

Indra Gunawan

CEO and Co-Founder, Bobobox

Smart accommodation and capsule hotel solutions already had our attention, and as much as we embrace a life that big and full  – we can’t avoid sleep.  Imagine a world where you are sleep wherever whenever YOU need it!  Private tech-enabled sleep pods where you are catered for with changing light colours, music and even access to kitchen suppliers and bathrooms – what if that could all happen while immersed in nature (hello, bobocabin)? 

We loved hearing how bobobox responded to Covid using data-driven insights to be the basis of their covid responses.   From creating boboexpress that saw the implementation of  200 rooms in 17 hospitals to facilitate helping health workers in the Covid crisis, to seeing opportunities that there was in fact a market of people willing to travel to safe destinations – taking that piece of information and that desire for outdoor activities had increased in popularity saw the birth of bobocabin that continues to see impressive booking rates from domestic travellers in Indonesia.    We love that that they kept brand experience at the front and centre and focussed on delivering consistent value and that they leveraged technology to enhance the customer experience to ensure safety and security (from cleaners to guests) whilst still be enthusiastic and responsive to the growth in millennial travellers.  The confidence that new markets, like the millennial and domestic traveller, presents an opportunity to keep in mind as bobobox scales and becomes resilient in the covid normal environment was encouraging and inspiring to listen to.

Danny Smith

Head of Business Development, SAGE Automation

With MV Arcade – you are the controller.  We had been excited to hear from the winners of the Reimagine City Challenge, and they didn’t disappoint.  Playing classic araced games – pong, snake and asteroid, with your body as a controller, is something straight out of a dream and we learnt that the team behind MV Arcade invested their time heavily to create a really intuitive experience. 

They have used strategic and impactful collaborations to double down on innovation, data collection and interactivity with the interface of the concept – but they have also included hyperlocal elements like integrating as a platform to advertise local businesses to stimulate local economies.  With priorities like being family orientated, creating universal access for ambulant participants whilst supporting economic growth – and the fact that this is a venture hasn’t been done on this scale anywhere else – which we are sure Melbournites will love- and that they will welcome it with open arms when they launch by Christmas 2021.


Adi Panuntun

Co-founder, Sembilan Matahari

Like we heard from bobobox, the desire for outdoor activities is a growing priority for the new covid normal traveller, and this session shared the incredible pivot that will keep them well placed to deliver community-based and meaningful experiences as they recover from 2020 and move confidently to the future.   Reimaging a city forest next to their new studio north of Bandung is a stunning use of video projections and interactive installations, but as Adi described, Hutan Menyala is also symbol of a bright future, and a new opportunity to take another look at the natural environment and our behaviour towards it – by celebrating our natural ecosytem, conservation and our connection to it we can be inspired about how we interact with the world around us.  After 14 years in the business this shift from architectural projections to outdoor enchantment is as stunning as it is innovative, and knowing that local employment, education and entertainment are important priorities we are excited to see where Sembilan Matahari goes from here!

Simone Dowding

CEO, Storytowns

This incredible startup is underpinned by a great attitude, that “success can happen by using innovation and strategy to serve the community and boost tourism”.   Storytowns serves regional and rural towns and location-based based podcasts to immerse and entertain tourists to uncover hidden gems, local stories and interact more meaningfully whether they are on a road trip, or listening from their armchair.  Learning that the Founder was a hitchhiker and seasoned traveller, who was bursting to leverage his personal experience locals sharing their pride and hospitality filled us all with those warm and fuzzy feelings.  This business is one to watch (or listen to from your armchair) as their use of a humble podcast to deepen the experience of travelling, and engaging local communities is beautiful.   The added benefit of creating a tool that can stimulate the economies of regional and rural towns is icing on the cake – the hyperlocal theme of this whole session was definitely apparent here again.  Take a look at their Silo Art Tour or The Grampians Way our to inspire your next roadtrip! 

If you are interested in accessing the recordings for this session (or sessions one and two), want to know more about the pitch competition associated with this innovation series, or register for the fourth session on August 4 – you will find every link that you need right here.

Find your next inspiration at Melbourne-Bandung Innovation Series!

Next and last session, we’ll be hearing from innovators and experts from Melbourne and Bandung who have been acting as the front liners to promote innovative public health awareness and services in the post-pandemic world.

This Shared City Challenge will seek to answer the important question: How might we use innovative solutions to address public health challenges above and beyond COVID-19 by utilising approaches that were unearthed during the pandemic and can be applied ongoing into the future? 

Register Here