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Peter King on his new role

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Peter King on his new role at ABEA
It was only in the past three or four weeks that Peter King, former chief executive of Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC), was asked to consider becoming the chairperson of the Australian Business Events Association (ABEA), which seeks to provide a unified voice and unified services for Australia’s business events community.

In an exclusive interview with micenet we asked him whether this was what he expected to be doing.

“No, I have just had a few months off…playing golf…haven’t really had a plan at all, just had a break for a while. But this certainly ticks a few boxes. I can keep in touch with the industry.

“There’s quite a bit of work in the first few months,” he says of chairing the association which is set to trade from July 3. A nation-wide search for a CEO for the new organisation is already underway.

King is the steady hand on the wheel helping to set up and speak for the new body until the CEO arrives, which might be within weeks. He has been a part of two of the founding organisations, as a leading member of Australian Convention Centres Group (ACCG) and a decade-long board member of the Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia (EEAA). He was also the deputy chair of the Business Events Council of Australia (BECA) which is also a proponent of a single voice for the industry.

Since his appointment was announced last week, King has received messages of support from industry groups around the world.

“Some of them have amalgamated, some of them are in the process of doing it, some would love to do it but are having their battles,” says King of the industry groups which have been in touch.

The messages offered broad support and congratulations for having got to this point.

King has supported the amalgamation concept for years, describing the former landscape as “a massive duplication of effort”.

“It is not even about the money…when you have got five or six associations in Australia for example you have got to go to five or six different conferences and five or six different research efforts.

“The venues in particular were the ones putting a lot of money into these associations and I have felt for a long time it has been just duplication. So, it wasn’t about reducing the money we were putting in, just putting it into one bucket and getting it properly resourced, getting it staffed and having one voice.”

King says that message had also come loud and clear from federal and state governments that “there are too many voices, we just need one voice and one consistent message”.

ABEA’s main role will be advocacy, not only in Australia but also internationally, alongside other services the business events community requires.

“We’ve got a couple of million dollars from the federal government and with that we’re doing research, because it is hard to advocate without research and without data,” he says, adding,

“it’s a great industry with incredible stories to tell.”

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