As we all head back from Christmas breaks, enthused with energy with what the New Year has to offer some MEA member views as well as my own are as follows…
Whilst many of our members are reporting good business, it is a fact that many are doing it tough, needing to rationalise staffing and seek new endeavours to keep their businesses afloat. I see this continuing if not becoming more prevalent during 2013.
A lot of discussion and concern has been centred on the redevelopment of the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre. With plans announced, members are asking “is this really what we thought it would be” as the exhibition industry is understandably concerned regarding space.
Members are also questioning how relevant staffing at the centre will survive to the end of 2013, with business continuing in a way that will ensure meetings and events will still run in a highly professional manner. Is enough being done to keep the required existing staff motivated to the "close of doors"? From listening to our members, my view is this conversation is far from finished.
The Business Events Council of Australia BECA is certainly due for some runs on the board and my view is that 2013 could be the year. With Ton van Amerongen at the helm and a focused ask of the Commonwealth Government, the timing is perfect to win some much needed funding for our industry.
Attracting overseas conferences into all states and territories is clearly a huge focus for our convention bureaus, with many reporting great wins. However our growing number of overseas competitors is a reality we must continue to contend with. Of course there is also the issue of winning the business and being able to service the business in a professional manner.
Attending recent conferences in Asia and Malaysia has really highlighted the service culture in these countries that is naturally inherent and very hard to compete with. In Australia we do not have an inherent service culture and for this reason we must recruit and educate as best we can to deliver meeting and event success.
On a domestic level we must continue in 2013 to promote the value of using PCOs or event managers to deliver our meetings and events as opposed to an administrative staff member. Meeting and event management is a skill in itself, however many companies wrongly believe that they are saving money by taking this role in-house. In-house is good if performed by a specific in-house meetings professional who stays in touch with industry and understands how to buy and work with suppliers.
MEA is looking to collate case studies on how not using the correct personnel to organise a meeting or event can backfire.
Whilst companies within the industry need to remain competitive and make a good living, it is in my opinion important at times that we remember the greater good of the industry. If sectors of the industry are not in agreement it is important that they come together and discuss the issue. Whilst in many instances MEA cannot take sides we offer to provide a forum for the issue at hand to be de-cluttered and discussed in a professional manner with the view of an end resolution.
In conclusion, 2013 will be a tough year for the industry. To survive we need to think smart, work smart, make good professional long and short term business decisions and use available resources to advantage. As an industry we can survive and grow.
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