Every which way you turn, convention and exhibition centres are flat chat, with many undertaking expansion programs, some celebrating new space, and others crying out for more.
North, south, east and west, here and internationally, dedicated convention and exhibition centres remain at the forefront of the meetings business.
Talk of how the internet and advancements in teleconferencing could spell the end of these immovable behemoths is clearly unfounded, with the majority recording better than ever business levels in all areas.
Not only do convention and exhibition centres offer plenty of space for a variety of activities they are now venues of culinary excellence with teams of chefs dedicated to dispelling any remaining myths about poor quality food. The quality on a grand scale is so good in fact that it could be said many venues are now securing more major corporate events – gala dinners, awards nights, charity benefits – than ever before.
Coupled with their exhibition space and their meetings facilities, things really are looking bright for the convention and exhibition sector.
Business is so good in some cities that some centres, like the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre, are reportedly turning business away. The solution, according to MCEC’s CEO, Peter King, is to build an additional 12,500 square metres of exhibition space.
“We’re turning away 30 per cent of potential business,” he said in Melbourne recently.
That has been the problem in Sydney for some time, with the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre set to close its doors at the end of this year for a complete rebuild and expansion. The three year closure will see Sydney off the radar in some respects (despite a temporary venue being constructed at Glebe Island), but many in the business event sector believe the pain will be worth the gain.
As if to remind the sector how long it has been servicing the industry and that it won’t be forgotten the SCEC launched a new logo last month celebrating 25 years in the business.
In South Australia, the Adelaide Convention Centre is undergoing expansion while in Perth there is talk about expanding its dedicated facility. On the Gold Coast there are ongoing discussions about expanding the Gold Coast Convention & Exhibition Centre, while in nearby Brisbane, its boutique expansion in early 2012 is reportedly going gangbusters.
One year after opening, BCEC on Grey Street, the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre’s five level expansion is celebrating a successful first year of operation. Specifically designed to meet increased market demand for smaller and medium sized meetings, conference organisers have praised the iconic design and boutique nature of the venue citing its unique flexibility, functionality and ability to ‘own’ an entire convention level as significant factors in their decision making process.
In its first 12 months, the Grey Street venue hosted 73,000 delegates and guests at 470 events including 58 conventions, surpassing initial expectations, with a further 63 convention bookings for 2013.
With its expanded facilities, Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre increased its total number of business events in the calendar year in 2012 by 28 per cent over the previous year.
BCEC general manager, Bob O’Keeffe, said the boutique venue had been a catalyst for growth for the centre. “2012 was a year of transformation for us with achievements of expansionary growth across the entire centre’s operations, with BCEC on Grey Street addressing a very evident trend within the national and international meetings industry,” he said.
“Many clients are seeking a more intimate and personal experience when it comes to planning conferences for numbers of 500 delegates or fewer which now account for 70 per cent of the market. Interest and bookings have far exceeded original targets and continue to do so.”
Mr O’Keeffe said 2013 is set to be yet another defining year for BCEC, setting new growth and performance benchmarks.
“Growth in conventions has more than doubled in the past five years with the trend set to continue with increased investment and innovation in both research and infrastructure.”
The international headline news for BCEC during last year was undoubtedly its selection as the official venue for the world’s highest profile event, the G20 Leaders Summit in 2014. The momentum and lead up to this event will have enormous impact, placing the centre, Brisbane and Australia at the very centre of international attention.
And it’s not just Australian venues that are growing in size and stature. There’s plenty of excitement in Singapore at the present time with the impending opening (June 2013) of the newly modernised Suntec Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre.
The S$180 million dollar modernisation will ensure greater flexibility and functionality, with a plethora of the latest technological bells and whistles.
From the exterior the most visible changes will be the modernised facade which includes an impressive three-storey interactive video wall at the entrance. Inside, the conversion will be eye-catching, with retail space on levels one and two, and level three home to 36 convertible meeting rooms.
Level four will see the exhibition space converted into premium entertainment spaces.
Suntec Singapore has played a major role in advancing Singapore’s MICE industry since it opened in 1995. Strategically located right in the middle of the central business district, it sits at the heart of what is often described as Asia’s most integrated meetings, conventions and exhibitions hub.
Beyond the centre’s 100,000 square metres of meeting space, a 15-minute stroll around its environs also provide visitors convenient access to 5200 hotel rooms, 1000 retail outlets, 300 restaurants, six museums, and a world-class performing arts centre.
Since it opened Suntec has hosted more than 18,000 events spanning a breadth of industries, including some of the world’s largest exhibitions and conventions.
One of its loyal clients is ITB Asia which has consistently held its annual travel market tradeshows at Suntec since 2008 until it closed for renovation. It is now poised to make a comeback this October.
“Suntec Singapore offers the optimum business environment for ITB Asia exhibitors and buyers and we look forward to experiencing the new and improved centre,” said ITB Asia executive director, Nino Gruttke.
“We are excited about the new hardware in terms of facilities and we expect that the software – the people – will be as excellent as we remember them. Based on our excellent years at Suntec Singapore we’re anticipating to return to a winning team, a winning format and a winning location.”