A full day of business sessions at the iconic Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) began as a rare encounter with the culinary bliss of quinoa and corn hash, Persian fetta and avocado, and perfectly poached 63-degree organic eggs prepared by MCEC’s Tony Panetta and celebrity chef Guy Grossi. Drooling over locally sourced food prepared by some of Australia’s most recognized and highly sought-after chefs was soon to become a theme of Dreamtime.
Taking in our surroundings, the incredibly geometric, and by all standards sustainable, MCEC quickly inspires its own fan club. But it’s not just a pretty face. With 300,000 sf of pillar-less exhibition space, 52 meeting rooms and seven major convention hotels within walking distance, it’s easy to see why it’s also an attractive spot for international conferences and events. For today’s festivities, part of the center was transformed to resemble a bustling Melbourne streetscape.
“Corporate and incentive travel reward programs account for approximately 20 percent of our business,” asserts Karen Bolinger, CEO of the Melbourne Convention Bureau (MCB). “The remaining 80 percent is securing international and national conferences for the state.”
Bolinger says that by the end of 2014, 70 international conferences secured by the MCB will have welcomed more than 85,000 delegates to Melbourne and added close to $420 million (AUD) to the Victorian economy. “But it’s not just economic returns that make business events imperative to our country,” she adds. “They facilitate innovation and knowledge exchange, create thousands of jobs, boost the skills and experience of our local workforce and open up trade opportunities for Victorian industries.”
Overall, business events add $24 billion to Australia’s economy, a figure that is expected to rise to $31 billion by 2020.