NAME: Jamie Mahon

BUSINESS NAME: Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre

POSITION: manager, events

What are you working on right now in anticipation of a return of events?

Right now, I’m working on upcoming events. We have reopened already under our approved Site Specific COVID Safe Plan and are welcoming events back to the centre. Our first event, earlier this month, was a small meeting for a longstanding loyal pharmaceutical organisation.

The events department has been designing and redesigning floorplans according to government regulations, re-imagining service and space to provide a safe environment for our team and our guests. Every event requires unique planning and close collaboration with the client.

What’s one lesson you have learnt during the COVID-19 lockdown period?

There are issues just outside of your control. However, you need to ensure you can adapt to change and you have planned for the worst-case scenario. Ensure you have a Plan A, Plan B, Plan C and so on if needed, as change can happen very quickly and you need to be prepared.  Through this change you will need to have excellent communication within your organisation platforms, to your team, client, stakeholders etc.

What do you value more now than you may have pre-COVID-19?

In March this year, I was working with one of our largest clients preparing to deliver their conference. Only days out from this conference, it was cancelled!! The magnitude of this cancellation was significant to our client, their delegates, our team and the destination. It was a reminder for me to not take anything for granted! Appreciate and value what we have as it can be taken away from us quickly.

How do you think events will change in the future?

Initially, I believe face-to-face conferences/events will take some time to fully recover from COVID-19 attendee numbers. We will more than likely see reduced event numbers due to budget constraints – from the perspective of international and interstate speakers, delegates and exhibitors. However, we all know that there’s no genuine replacement for in-person experiences, that the ‘virtual’ experience doesn’t come close, and that events at large will be back!

The face of events will change as venues and organisers are required to implement new practices in their event planning, such as minimising touch points where practical. I would imagine that people will be more conscious of their social distancing; we will see more sanitising stations throughout venues, increased cleaning processes and awareness of individual hygiene.

Why are events important?

For organisations and attendees, events provide a forum for connection, networking, imagination, innovation, education and reward.

For the economy, events have a significant impact on the region they are held in. Events help many businesses such as restaurants, accommodation, shopping outlets and transport companies, just to name a few, thrive, so we can keep people employed.

The more events we attract, the better our chance to see investment into infrastructure upgrades, which in turn makes our destination even more appealing to our clients and travelers.