By Joyce DiMascio

This is part two of Joyce DiMascio’s interview with Adrienne Readings, general manager and CEO of Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre (GCCEC).

It’s been a year of challenges for the Gold Coast venue, but also of opportunities. In part two of our interview with Adrienne, she discussed the lessons from 2020 and the one thing she’s excited about for 2021.

Q. Any lessons from the past year? Have you run any super interesting events?

A. Lessons?  Yes, we have a resilient team here at GCCEC. People have had to change their daily activities, their way of working, communicating and approaching the business and yet are on the whole a positive and proactive bunch looking forward to getting back to business as usual – or even an improved version!

We have been working closely with local suppliers to re-imagine event delivery. Dreamweavers is one that we collaborated with to add entertainment elements into social distancing. We also introduced new innovative ways to deliver our catering and this has now been adopted for other conventions going forward.

Having Netflix filming a blockbuster movie with Chris Hemsworth has been interesting including working with our COVID safe regulations, coupled with the requirements of the US team.

Our GCCEC Christmas event was a resounding success. People were keen to get out and have a good time. The event sold out within weeks of going live. Although no indoor dancing was allowed, we created outdoor dance areas and streamed the band (ABBALIVE) onto the exterior walls of the building.  The feedback was it was a great night – even under strict regulations.

Q. It is going to be some time before the international market comes back – what are the implications?

A. We will be focussing on the domestic market for the short-term but international events can be booked up to eight years ahead. So our outreach to the international conferences will continue as usual.

There is of course a lack of certainty around international flights and borders but we hope that once the vaccine is rolled out, things will improve. During the past six months, five international conventions have been confirmed. This is the nature of our industry – we look so far in advance, it’s like a parallel universe.

Q. How have you accommodated the needs of the local market?

A. A lot of organisations who may have gone to a smaller venue, have come to the convention centre this past year as we have been able to offer space in a COVID approved environment with the ability to stream to and from meetings and events.

Around 23 senior schools held their Year 12 formals here.  Challenged by social distancing requirements, hotels were unable to host the events, but we were happy to offer a glamourous red-carpet arrival streamed to the parents and family both in venue and online. We don’t normally do this, but it was fantastic to be able to support the graduates after a very difficult year.

Q. Has the federal government supported the business events sector adequately?

A. I believe the federal government has supported the industry in the best way it knows how. Obviously, some of the frustration may be around process but we understand it is necessary to ensure support gets to those who need it most. Additional support consideration should be strongly considered for either tax relief, grants or income support post-March 2021.

The tourism authorities have been very supportive and informative with research, grants and other support. Tourism Australia Business Events has been very agile moving back in the domestic market and providing support to the industry.

Q. The Queensland Government has maintained a tight control of borders – has this been justified?

A. I believe all state governments are doing what they need to do to ensure their states are safe. However, I would like to see Australia adopt a model of hot spots rather than border closures.  Industry will only gain confidence if they know they can freely travel across borders.

Q. What are you personally most proud of from the past 12 months?

A. I am most proud of my team and how they have navigated through these times of uncertainty.

Also, proud that we are dealing with great clients who have worked with us and understand that we are in this together – so the risk should be shared and not just sit with the venue.

Q. What are you excited about most for 2021?

A. I suppose excited is a little optimistic but the roll out of a successful vaccine.

If you missed Part 1 of the interview here is the link: