By Geoff Donaghy, group director – convention centres – AEG Ogden; vice president, AIPC Board of Directors

In a time when global competition amongst convention centres and destinations is more intense than ever, centres need to be able to differentiate themselves. One way to do this is by demonstrating adherence to the highest and most relevant management standards, which not only creates an advantage amongst increasingly discerning clients but also provides owners with the confidence they need that the centre is being managed efficiently and cost-effectively.

It’s for these reasons that AEG Ogden has adopted the AIPC Quality Standards program for the AEG Ogden portfolio of international convention centres with four of our managed facilities in Brisbane, Cairns, Darwin and Kuala Lumpur having achieved Gold level certification over the past two years with others including the Qatar National Convention Centre (just opened) and Oman Convention & Exhibition Centre (about to commence construction) flowing suit as they come on stream. The Quality Standards designation is only achieved through an exhaustive audit of all major factors in convention centre management carried out by an independent business process auditor – a rigorous but rewarding process that challenges our managers to achieve the very best in their respective operations.

However, having identified the importance of the designation itself we’ve discovered that the process also offers a lot of other benefits which complement those we also see through our pursuit of other relevant accreditations such as ISO and various environmental standards. This has been seen in a variety of ways by our centre managers;

In Darwin, it has taken the form of increased credibility in the community and enhanced pride amongst staff. Our General Manager Malu Barrios noted that the QS audit’s gold certification “not only validated our venue’s capability to provide world class standards but has also inspired staff to keep doing well and be proud of their association with the Darwin Convention Centre and AEG Ogden. This has resulted in increasing loyalty and the Centre being recognised as preferred employer”.

At the Cairns Convention Centre, GM Ross Steele sees Quality Standards accreditation as a logical complement to their having been awarded the AIPC Apex Award for “World’s Best Convention Centre” and something that validates that recognition in a visible, ongoing form. As Ross said “as a prior winner of AIPC’s highest award it was logical that Cairns Convention Centre applied for AIPC Quality Standards Certification, and to have achieved Gold Status is acknowledgement of just how well the team at the Centre meets the needs and expectation of both our clients and our owners”.

Being the first centre in Malaysia to receive such a certification and being a member of an exclusive global “club” were amongst the biggest benefits to the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre according to the centre’s GM Datuk Peter Brokenshire. In his words “The certification recognizes the way our team performs and operates within every aspect of the business and will now be a source of pride”.

The Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre saw AIPC Gold designation as a key element in their high level strategic plan. GM Bob O’Keefe says that their overall commitment has been to provide a sustainable future for staff, clients and the community and that achieving this certification is a logical progression in that regard. In his words “This award adds stimulus and further credence to our strategic direction and is an imperative in today’s very competitive global marketplace”.

Finally, from our perspective as an organization with operations in different parts of the world, there is yet another benefit, and this the fact that that the standards enable centres to achieve consistently high management quality while still recognizing the reality and the importance of highly variable operating environments. We know that in order to meet the diverse interests of both clients and delegates, centres these days need to make a unique statement that reflects their destination, culture and distinguishing features but at the same time maintain the kind of consistency and quality that address international expectations.

We have found that the AIPC Quality Standards program offers that flexibility, and that’s why it has become a key element in our strategy.