June 23, 2022 | By Graeme Kemlo

Melbourne may be slower at getting its workers back in the office full time, but it is busy hosting business events, with 11 conferences in the city this month for 200 to 1,500 delegates.

Melbourne Convention Bureau (MCB) figures show that for the balance of this year, 67 meetings are scheduled, many of them at Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC). Looking ahead to the end of 2023, there are a total of 114 on the books.

And that does not include last weekend’s private Robbie Williams concert for 800 attendees at Crown Melbourne’s Palladium Ballroom – arguably an incentive event for customers and staff of La Trobe Financial, just in time for the new fiscal year.

Typically, MCB wins about 300 meetings a year for Melbourne and currently has meetings booked as far out as 2028.  While 2023 may not see a return to pre-COVID bookings, the year is projected to deliver 320,000 delegate days and 212,000 room nights for business events. These include the city’s highest yielding conference in May 2023 for Rotary International for 17,000 delegates, as well as events on disciplines from sociology (3,000 delegates) to obesity (1,500 delegates) and entrepreneurship (2,500 delegates).

Some are rescheduled events, such as the World Barista Championships in September 2022 for 3,000 delegates, however short-lead events have also been booked this year, including the IATA Slot Conference in November 2022 for 1,000 delegates from 230 global airlines.

With conference organisers reportedly surprised at the pace of the sector’s return, MCB is quietly confident pre-COVID levels could be achieved in 2024. Currently, it has bookings for business events that will deliver 283,000 delegate days and 194,000 room nights in 2024 which includes a Lions Club International Conference for 13,000 attendees in June that year.