At this year’s Asia-Pacific Incentives & Meetings Event (AIME) which kicked off in Melbourne yesterday, Karen Bolinger, CEO of the Melbourne Convention Bureau (MCB) indicated that the city has plenty to be proud about when it comes to event wins and infrastructure development.
“Melbourne, today, as we stand, has 33,000 accommodation rooms,” said Bolinger. “When I first came to Melbourne seven years ago, we had something like 20,000, so to have grown that much in seven years is astronomical.” This year will see the opening of 10 new hotels in the city.
In terms of big wins, recent scores include the World Congress of Philosophy in 2023 with 2,000 delegates, the International Congress of Genetics in 2023 with 3,000 delegates, and the 20th International Union of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology in 2026 which will bring in over 2,500 delegates.
But perhaps the biggest win for MCB was the International Convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses, which will welcome 50,000 delegates in November this year. “It’s absolutely enormous. And that’s the second time they’re coming to Melbourne. We’re thrilled to say that it’s a repeat visit for us,” said Bolinger.
She said that the culmination of all four events will see close to 60,000 delegates visiting Melbourne and contribute approximately A$126 million (US$90 million) in economic revenue.
The city’s incentive market is also thriving with a focus on greater Melbourne. As much as the city anchors itself on big events such as the Melbourne Grand Prix and the Australian Open, Bolinger hopes to see the market diversify by dispersing visitors into regional Victoria.
“It could be something that’s going on in Geelong or a wine festival that’s going on in Ballarat,” she said. “Our integration with Visit Victoria has really helped us leverage and expand these events.”
On top of that, Melbourne’s recently revamped Melbourne and Convention Centre (MCEC) has also seen growing numbers. According to MCEC’s chief executive Peter King, MCEC provided A$984 million (US$784 million) worth of “positive economic impact” to the Victorian economy. He projects this figure to reach A$1 bilion this year.
The centre’s current strategies include continuing to grow its impact, revenues, partnerships, and its effect on local communities. The second phase of the strategy focuses on its smart facilities and tech developments as well as introduction of process improvements.
“So we’re working in those two areas to sweat the asset a bit more and having better utilisation, and ultimately getting more customers in through the facility,” he said.
AIME kicked off at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre on Monday with over 600 buyers and exhibitors on the showfloor. The event was sponsored by the MCB with education sessions in partnership with Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA).