August 25, 2021 | By Joyce DiMascio
Rochelle Uechtritz has an extraordinary job. She’s a great ambassador for Australia and works in markets which may be seen as inhospitable, especially for women.
But ASM Global’s Director of International Market Development for convention centres in Asia Pacific and the Gulf region says the key is to build respect and show your professional competency.
In recent weeks, she shared the news that ASM Global is opening a new convention and exhibition centre in Bahrain – the largest of its kind in the Middle East.
ASM Global is a global powerhouse in venue management, specialising in managing stadiums, convention centres, theatres, and unique venues. In Australia, its venues include ICC Sydney, Cairns Convention Centre, Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre and Darwin Convention Centre. It will also oversee the opening of the first in the new generation of convention centres in New Zealand in October through its management of Te Pae Christchurch.
The business as it is today, was formed in late 2019 by bringing together SMG and AEG Facilities. At the time of the merger, the company had 300 arenas, stadia and other large venues on five continents, and employed 61,000 staff.
Over the past 21 years, Uechtritz has had a hand in eight “pre-openings” of convention centres in Australia, New Zealand, across Asia, Qatar, Oman and most recently in Bahrain and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. In addition, she worked on three “transitions” or change of management in Los Angeles, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.
It is a mighty role in which maintaining key relationships and market intelligence are critical.
“No matter where you are in the world, our business is based on relationships. It is simple – people like doing business with people they like,” she says.
“You need to take the time to understand the culture and treat everyone with the same level of respect, she says. “Every country in a region such as the Middle East has its own culture – you have to understand that and all the nuances.”
ASM Global will operate the new Bahrain International Exhibition & Convention Centre. This is the largest of its kind in the Middle East. It’s located in the Gulf region, one hour’s flight time from Dubai,
Currently under construction, the new Bahrain International Exhibition & Convention Centre has 95,000m2 of exhibition space over 10 halls, a 4,000-seat auditorium and 95 meetings rooms. It is scheduled to open next year.
“We have hit the ground running and have recruited our key executives. This will be announced shortly.”
Apart from Uechtritz’s role in supporting bids for new venues, she plays a key role training the venue teams on business processes.
She says she helps set up the ASM Global best practice systems and procedures “to research and secure potential business”. She also assists with recruiting, mentoring and training the business development teams.
Not all countries have convention bureaux, and most are built in “greenfield” convention destinations, she says.
“So, we mentor, train and assist the tourism organisations on how to attract international conventions and the need to set up a convention bureau.”
Uechtritz is grateful to her mentor, Geoff Donaghy, CEO of ICC Sydney and the Group Director of convention centres for ASM Global in Asia Pacific. He hired her 21 years ago.
And what does she love most about her work?
“There is an Arabic saying that translates to ‘with one hand, you cannot clap’ – that is what our industry is all about. In our industry you make friends for life.
“I am privileged and honoured to have lifelong friends in almost every corner of the world. They are both clients and competitor convention centres, destinations and suppliers.”
She says that during the current challenges facing the industry around the world, global destinations are taking this time to build new venues or expand existing venues in readiness for the world’s recovery and to meet the need for people to meet, celebrate and enjoy face-to-face events again.
“Yes, our world is a different place, our venues are adapting to this new world, and we will keep adapting for the future.”