It has undoubtedly been a challenging year for our industry. With unforeseen circumstances and the immediate loss of revenue, the issues have been far reaching, but Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) is exploring new business models, products, revenue streams and ways of working across local, national and international markets.
Like many, MCEC have found themselves unable to perform their core business due to coronavirus (COVID-19) and associated restrictions on gatherings and travel. As a major contributor to Victoria’s economy, with more than $1 billion in economic impact the financial year prior to the pandemic, they are turning to the future to focus on transforming their business as a driver in the state’s economic recovery.
MCEC will slowly be welcoming people back in-person following the latest Victorian Government’s easing of restrictions, and in accordance with the latest advice and directions of the Chief Health Officer, events at MCEC are limited to 25 per cent of the venue’s seating capacity, up to a maximum of 250 people seated.
A density quotient of one person per four square metres applies to non-fixed seated areas, such as grassed areas. Free standing events are not permitted for the time being.
Event capacity will increase over time on a 14-day basis subject to public health advice, in line with the framework and future easing of restrictions. Depending on the scale of an event, the event organiser must also seek approval from the Victorian Government to run the event.
In order to make this a safe and seamless transition, MCEC has released a comprehensive VenueSafe plan to ensure customers are confident in their safe operation, and whilst there will always be a demand for face-to-face meetings, they acknowledge that the way these happen will be fundamentally different. This is challenging when your central offering involves bringing people together, however, they have adapted a flexible attitude and began down the path of a ‘business relaunch’ process to explore new ideas across the business.
Through this process, they are looking at every aspect of what they do well, could be done better and what they have never done before. At the core of the strategy is the prioritisation of the employees. When revenue streams were lost, MCEC offered a support package and has continued to offer salary maintenance throughout the pandemic. Equally, they have offered mental health seminars and developed health and wellbeing resources, as well as increased learning opportunities through a new ‘learning credit’ scheme that encourages employees to use this time to learn in a way that is meaningful for them.
MCEC is now providing virtual events solutions to customers, which will likely play a greater part in the industry moving forward, be it through events held entirely online or through a hybrid of virtual and in person. One example is the inaugural Unconventional Ideas event MCEC recently held over two days with more than a hundred innovators and thought-leaders from the events industry, who took part in a virtual idea generation ‘hackathon’.
The event brought together in-house experts, as well as customers and stakeholders within the sector, to workshop and pitch business ideas for MCEC to a panel of esteemed judges, including Melbourne’s Lord Mayor Sally Capp, AFL star, television personality and hotelier Luke Darcy and MCEC Chair and former Victorian Premier, John Brumby AO.
It is an exciting and dynamic way to work, combining a fast-changing and challenging commercial environment while simultaneously investing in positive long-term outcomes for the community. This outlook means their goal is to continually strive to keep pace with a world that presents new challenges but also brings with it, new opportunities.