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Surviving The Meetings Industry: Melbourne Convention and
Visitors Bureau Takes Initiatives

29 September 2009 - Sandra Chipchase, CEO of the Melbourne Convention and Visitors Bureau (MCVB) and a speaker at the upcoming Web In Travel conference said that to survive the meetings industry today, you have to be forward thinking and treat your business as a partnership, rather than a transaction.

Some of the innovations that are occurring in the meetings industry in Melbourne, Australia, for example, are taking reduced deposits, working with their clients to be lenient, adopting the attitude that people remember personal kindness long after their cash issues are over with. 

“We are looking at what deals can be done to keep the business. We’ve adopted the attitude of ‘don’t cancel, don’t postpone, come, and what can we do to help you make that decision?’”, commented Chipchase when asked what innovations the MCVB has taken in their recent sales and marketing approach. 

Furthermore, “we’ve also tried to be a bit clever by asking ‘can we sign you up for 2 years rather than one?’ and discussing what packages can we offer to keep forward business.” 

“I think that people are attracted to destinations and to companies that do invest in the future and are forward thinking. In Melbourne, for major events here, the corporate business is solid,” remarked Chipchase.

MVCB is perhaps the first bureau in the world to partner with a university to do a research study, which will measure 4 conventions with exhibitions over the next 3 years to measure the impact of the destination beyond tourism. That is, “they will be looking at the impact of innovation, business migration, education, exports”, said Chipchase. “Everyone understands the direct tourism benefits of hotels etcetera. We want to be able to go back to our government having defined more closely the benefits beyond tourism, in order to ensure that more investment in infrastructure continues.”

When questioned about the impact of more meeting space becoming available on the marketing, Chipchase observed that “More meeting space is going to be a very tough platform for all of us. What I find fascinating is how we will all have to start to define our unique selling proposition. That pertains to each individual venue, city, country and region. It will be about professionalism. The differentiator will be how they pitch themselves to clients. 

“It is about getting results. People have less time to attend meetings. Meetings organisers need to ensure that meetings run like clockwork, will be seamless, won’t cost additional time or money. Now and into the future, the winning pitch will about professionalism and service delivery.”

Chipchase added that, “Price always important. It will never go away, but won’t be competing just on price.” Other influencers on the choice of venue will continue to be how eco friendly the venue is, and the latest consideration is the security of the venue. How safe people are in a particular venue. 

Chipchase will join Robin Lokerman, Managing Director of MCI Asia Pacific and Jill Henry, CEO of the Sarawak Convention Bureau on stage at WIT to discuss “No Events, No Money”, a panel session on the business events sector, which has perhaps been the hardest hit by the financial meltdown. The session will be moderated by Elizabeth Rich, the Executive Director of the Business Events Council of Australia.  WIT-Web In Travel is set for 20 -23 October, 2009 at Suntec City in Singapore. 


Illka Gobius
tel +65 9105 8268

Also See: The ‘Greenest’ Convention Center in the World? The Melbourne, Australia Exhibition Centre Claims it has Defied All Earlier Definitions of Green / September 2009

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