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Paula Rowntree: Designing events for lasting impact

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As planning for AIME 2024 ramps up, the head of external engagement at the Australian Psychological Society, founder of The Business Events Network and AIMEbassador Paula Rowntree is in the Q&A hot seat.

Produced in partnership with the Asia Pacific Incentives and Meetings Event (AIME)

Now more than ever delegates are demanding immersive, bespoke experiences – what role do boutique venues and suppliers play in enhancing events?

As an event planner, facilitating human connection is at the core of what I do. Because of their very nature, boutique venues and suppliers have the flexibility to create truly immersive experiences. For example, delegates could be stomping grapes at a winery or hiking a beautiful property while meeting.

Excitingly, one of the new sections on the show floor at AIME 2024, The Boutique Zone, will be dedicated to these boutique experience makers that have never exhibited before. It’s a fabulous opportunity for small, independent venues to showcase their offer and provide event planners with new ideas and opportunities for their events.

What role will legacy and impact play for associations and destinations in securing international events?

In today’s world, for someone to make a commitment to attend an event – the event needs to be transformative – there needs to be an element of the event that is bigger than them. And for associations, particularly the global ones, there is a real focus on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, of which legacy and impact play a big part.

In order to secure these international events in the future, I think we need to be doing a lot more than we are currently. Venues and destinations should be looking at how they are partnering with social impact programs to give them an edge. And as event planners, we need to be asking ourselves how we can make sure that every event we deliver leaves a lasting positive impact on the destinations that we’ve been to.

Paula Rowntree: Designing events for lasting impact

What changes do venues or trade shows need to make, to meet the changing needs of event planners?

An exciting project I have been working on via the Business Events Network addresses exactly this – we are supporting venues to think differently about their spaces.

One example, where event design has seen a shift in thinking, is seeing a meeting room as more than a theatre or classroom and instead a dynamic space for connection and education. Venues can gain a competitive advantage by simply offering more detailed diversified seating plans that consider multiple different uses of the space.

Next year at AIME you’ll see a number of new informal breakout spaces on the show floor – all designed to foster more opportunities for attendees to connect. Find me there – and let’s have a chat!


AIME 2024 takes place 19 – 21 February at MCEC. Meet Paula and AIME’s other AIMEbassadors on the show floor. Register to attend at aime.com.au.

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