September 23, 2021 | By Bronwen Largier

With winners reflecting the nature and distribution of pandemic impacts across Australia, the biggest winners at Meetings and Events Australia’s (MEA) virtual awards ceremony last night were Harry the hirer, who took home five awards, and Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre and La Trobe University, who nabbed three each.

The impact of the pandemic could be seen in the lack of major and regional events amongst the state winners – and the nature of the events in the mix in those categories – usually dominated by public events, there were only a couple of those represented. There was also no national or state winners for the Exhibition of the Year category and few state winners for Special Event of the Year.

In a worrying indication for young talent, the winner of the MEA Future Leader award no longer works in the events industry.

“I’d like to acknowledge the effort made by anyone who contributed a submission for consideration, to congratulate those who became worthy finalists, and to celebrate those deemed to ultimately be category winners,” said MEA CEO Peter McDonald.

“They’ve been determined to be the best of the best by their peers. They’ve established new benchmarks for the industry to emulate. Well done.”

“The greatest impact on the business events sector in the past 18 months has of course been COVID,” said Chair of Judges, Ian Stuart.

“The whole industry has faced cancellations, confusion and concern about when it will all end.

“But, resourceful as ever, our sector has responded creatively and with optimism. We’ve learned how to replace and to complement the traditional face to face experience by including hybrid and virtual alternatives. We’ve worked out how to keep our audiences’ attention, how to engage with them and the event’s stakeholders.

“There is great evidence of this in the 2020 MEA National Awards.”

MEA’s 2020 national award winners

Excellence in Industry Awards

Destination Marketing Organisation or Bureau
Destination North Coast

Innovation Award
Harry the hirer (NSW & VIC)

Event Products & Services Awards sponsored by Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre

Audio Visual Services
Novatech Creative Event Technology

Banqueting & Catering
Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre

Event Marketing
Milestone Creative Australia

Event Technology

Exhibition Services
Harry the hirer

Speakers, Entertainers and Team Builders

Specialist Services and Suppliers
Congress Rental Australia

Event Legacy Award
World of Drones & Robotics Congress 2020, Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre

Event Professional Awards sponsored by Ungerboeck

Event Manager of the Year – Agency
Alison Jack – Admire Events

In-House Event Manager of the Year – Association, Corporate or Government
Victoria Dillon – La Trobe University

MEA Future Leader
Joshua Clark – Formerly ICC Sydney

Operations Person of the Year
Chantal Trimboli – Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre

Sales, Marketing or Business Development Person of the Year
Christine Kotsis – Harry the hirer

Event Management Awards Sponsored by Scene Change

Event Agency
Alive Events Agency

Event Management Team – Association
ASHM Conference & Events

Event Management Team – Corporate
La Trobe University

Professional Conference Organisation

Venue Awards

Event Hotel of the Year
Hyatt Regency Sydney

Event Venue – Capacity less than 500
Fed Square

Event Venue – Capacity more than 1,500
Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre

Events of the Year Awards sponsored by Destination New South Wales

Association Event of the Year
The University of Melbourne MD Student Conference 2020, ICMS Australasia

Cause Related Event of the Year
NSW Rotary Emergency Services Community Awards (RESCA), Admire Events

Corporate Event of the Year
GradsFest2020, La Trobe University

Government Event of the Year
Creative Generation – The Show Goes on 2020 TV Broadcast, Department of Education

Major Event or Festival of the Year
New Year’s Eve Featuring Tones & I and Sheppard at Darwin Waterfront, Agentur & Darwin Waterfront Corporation

Regional Event of the Year
ASBAQ 2020 State Conference, ICMS Australasia

Special Event of the Year
Fed Square’s Dining In Turned Inside Out & Sky Castle, Fed Square

Platinum Awards sponsored by ICC Sydney

Event Company of the Year
Harry the hirer

Event Professional of the Year
Christine Kotsis – Harry the hirer

Event of the Year
New Year’s Eve Featuring Tones & I and Sheppard at Darwin Waterfront, Agentur & Darwin Waterfront Corporation Outstanding Contribution Award

Outstanding Contribution Recipient
Kate Smith – WALDRONSMITH Management