Melbourne goes big in quest for events dominance
The battle to assume the mantle as Australia’s premier events city is well and truly heating up with the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre’s (MCEC) $200 million expansion set to make it the largest venue in the country when works are finally completed in July.
Among the list of impressive specs that will accompany the 20,000m2 development is 9,000m2 of multi-purpose event space, brand new exhibition halls, an increased number of meeting rooms and a new banquet room.
The extension forms part of a wider strategy for the Victorian Government, whose South Wharf development project encompasses a new 347-room Novotel Melbourne South Wharf and a new 1,150-space multi-level car park.
“Our expansion is an absolute game-changer, we’re talking three and a half MCGs of new space to attract more events and thousands more visitors to Victoria,” said Victorian Minister for Tourism and Major Events, John Eren.
“Not only will this redevelopment boost tourism, it will also create more than 900 new jobs and provide a massive boost to our local economy each year,” he added.
The sheer size of the project is something the Melbourne Convention Bureau (MCB) believes will create a valuable point-of-difference with competitors, particularly when vying for major large-scale events.
“MCEC’s expansion represents a powerful vote of confidence in the state as a destination that has the infrastructure and capacity to continue hosting large prestigious association and incentive events,” said MCB chief executive officer Karen Bolinger.
When the ribbon is finally cut on the project in a few months’ time, the facility will boast several venues inspired by the Garden State’s “gold rush” history, from the Goldfields Theatre, Sovereign Room, Eureka Rooms and Goldfields Cafe and Bar.
However, it’s not only the scale of Melbourne’s ambitions that have rival locations sitting up and taking notice, with the city also undertaking a significant upturn in investment in the digital sphere to ensure meeting planners understand the full extent of its value proposition.
One example of this technology offensive is the MCEC’s recent launch of an online portal called myMCEC, with the new tool designed to create a “seamless experience” for meeting planners who can create a centralised location for all event documentation, which can be accessed at any time, on any device.
“We encourage creativity and innovation…and are constantly looking for ways to create new experiences and develop innovative products to ensure the best possible experience for our customers and their guests,” said MCEC’s director of customer experience & optimisation, Anne Jamieson.
“We created myMCEC, a digital solution, in collaboration with our customers which ensures their needs are met from the initial event planning stage through to its completion.”
This pro-technology mindset is nothing new for the MCEC, having previously snaffled the prestigious INCON Digital Infrastructure Award in 2015 in recognition of its investment in upgrading its IP network and cabling infrastructure.
The spoils of this reputation as a leading adopter of digital innovation in the events sector has culminated in MCEC landing some highly regarded digital events in 2018. These have included winning the bid to host the annual Magnify World Expo and Business Summit in August. This event brings together leading minds and influencers from around the globe in the virtual and augmented reality space and is considered the most esteemed event of its kind in the Asia Pacific region.
Another major feather in the cap for Melbourne was landing the world’s largest online conference for video creators called VidCon for the next two years. The MCEC had already successfully hosted the gig in 2017, generating a seismic social media ripple of over two million Twitter impressions, nearly 200,000 Instagram posts and just under a whopping four million minutes of video consumption on VidCon’s YouTube channel for the month.