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A Year of Milestones for Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre

Last year, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) celebrated the tenth anniversary of the Melbourne Convention Centre and one year since opening its new expansion space. MCEC Chief Executive, Peter King, says the expansion had been a great addition to the venue, increasing MCEC’s economic impact.

“In 2018–2019, we contributed more than $1.1 billion in economic impact to the state of Victoria. The expansion has exceeded all expectations as it provides such exciting flexible options for our customers to consider. Our golden expansion has already become an iconic addition to the Melbourne skyline. On the back of the expanded space we have grown our revenues by 40 per cent in just over two years,” says Peter King.

Since the official opening in July 2018, MCEC’s expansion has hosted over 300 events including a diverse range of meetings, conferences and exhibitions. The Melbourne Convention Centre was officially opened on 5 June 2009 by former Premier of Victoria, the Hon. John Brumby AO, who now presides as Chairman of the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Trust (MCET).

Since opening, the Melbourne Convention Centre has become an iconic Melbourne events destination, hosting over 7,000 events and welcoming millions of visitors through its doors.

“We’re a government authority, so partnering with the State Government is essential to us. There are growth limitations for our physical site, given that we are positioned between a freeway and the Yarra River, so we have completed our major infrastructure work for the near future. However, there’s an enormous amount of work we can do within the building to sweat the asset harder including better utilisation, increased flexibility and finding new ways to use the spaces we have. We continue to partner closely with our customers to find new ways we can work together.”

“We’ve had an excellent year financially and we’re putting together a strategy for the future. We are focusing on our impact from an economic perspective, but also importantly, at a legacy and community level. We are evolving our business by being smarter and embracing all things digital in the way we work, engage and communicate. The other challenge we are dealing with is the conversation around the future of events. Our people have the keys to the future and by nurturing their innovation, we will unleash their potential to help us navigate our way forward over the next few years.”

A couple of recent and significant recruitments in the business reflect the tone of the organisational plans in data, insights and sustainability.

“As most industries, we now make our core decisions and identify new business opportunities through the use of data and analytics. We have dedicated business insights employees who help manage our strategies. We have invested in greater capability in our marketing and communications team to provide a more sophisticated and mature approach to driving sales initiatives. Our teams work closely together and this is building a pipeline of business that we have not seen before. As CEO, it gives me comfort that we have a very solid platform for continued growth well into the future.”

With sustainability being another focus, MCEC recently hired a dedicated sustainability manager, Samantha Ferrier.

“We needed someone who wakes up focused every day on sustainability. We have initiated many ’green’ projects and work practices over the years, including things like the Melbourne Renewable Energy Project, which is a partnership approach to energy procurement. Until now, our employees have driven most of this change in isolated groups. Now, we are finding our customers want to partner with us to help them be more sustainable in their work practices. Sam is our dedicated resource who will not only amplify what we are already doing but will set up a strategy that will lead the industry in this area. Our employees and our customers are demanding it.”

“It’s important to acknowledge it has been a challenging start to the year and those of us in the business events industry have undeniably been affected. Despite the challenges, it has also been heartening to see how the industry has responded and rallied together during this time. At times like this, it is important we stand together as a community to support the event and visitor economy.”

“International and domestic visitation is an enormous industry and employs many thousands of Australians. Our industry is an economic powerhouse of which we should be very proud. In times of difficulty and challenge, we can solve the problems of the world if we can communicate, learn and transfer knowledge. These are interesting times but the fact we can work together so effectively gives me great reasons for optimism.”

Peter King is the Chief Executive at Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) and Deputy Chairman on the Board of Melbourne Convention Bureau (MCB). He sits on the Global Board of the International Association of Convention Centres (AIPC) and is on the Committee of the MCC (Melbourne Cricket Club) which operates the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground).

Photo: Peter King, Chief Executive, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, photo by Nick Harrison.