"The think-tank of the exhibition and event industry."

EEAA 2016 Leaders Forum

9 June 2016

Carousel, Food and Desire


EEAA was pleased to deliver a high-powered line-up of leaders for a healthy discussion on trends, investment and opportunities.


The Federal election and what it means for business

James Pearson, Chief Executive, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

James kicked off the Forum with an overview of the Federal election and what it means for Australian businesses. He said The Australian Chamber’s election priority was to get Australia back into the top 10 competitive countries in 10 years and make local businesses more dynamic and Australia a more attractive destination for international investors.

The Wave of Opportunity for Australia

Theo Psychogios, Partner, Deloitte Access Economics

Theo provided an overview of Australia’s economic conditions, speaking specifically about the big investments in Australian infrastructure. He showcased Western Sydney as a new growth corridor which could see opportunities evolve for exhibitions and events.

Investment in infrastructure and activation of the city and economy in NSW

Jonathan O’Dea, NSW Parliamentary Secretary for Trade and Investment, Major Events and Tourism

Jonathan provided an overview of the current infrastructure investment by the NSW government and outlined the importance of continuing to invest in infrastructure for industry growth. He also stressed the continued commitment of the NSW government towards exhibitions and events, stating that the sector was a clear driver of economic and visitation benefits to the city, state and country.

An overview of the Victorian business environment and government policy

Bryce Prosser, Executive Director – Public Policy & Corporate Affairs, Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Bryce put the spotlight on Melbourne and Victoria and the huge investment in Business Events infrastructure within the state. He said the investment being made by the government will create opportunities that will enable the growth of our sector.

The advocacy campaign to reinstate funding to Perth Convention Bureau – Lessons learned

Paul Beeson, Chief Executive Officer, Perth Convention Bureau

Paul outlined the steps followed in their successful campaign to reverse the funding cut proposed for the Perth Convention Bureau (PCB). Paul said data was key to the Bureau’s success and noted it was important for Convention Bureaux to be part of industry Associations like the EEAA. He said that the EEAA was one of the industry voices that advocated for the funding cut to be overturned, and thanked the Association for its constant influence at both the state and national level, which was essential to the outcome.

Security – preparation and response. An insider’s view of the current security, terror threat and risk climate

Craig Sheridan, retired Commissioned Police Officer, NSW Police

Craig spoke about the security, terror threat and risk climate within Australia and provided pointers to ensure we do the best we can to protect visitors and staff at shows and events. He said that events and exhibitions are places of mass gathering and we need to think about how we prepare and respond to security risk.

Global trends in cybersecurity and data breach – effectively managing the risks

Michael Park, Partner, Norton Rose Fulbright Australia

Michael discussed the important issue of cybersecurity, highlighting risks and proposing steps to effectively manage these and protect our businesses. He said that in today’s climate, it is not “if” a company will be faced with a cyber risk, but “when”. Therefore, it is essential to have a plan in place for when this happens.

An international perspective on trends and opportunities across business events

Geoff Donaghy, Group Director Convention Centres, AEG Ogden

In an interactive session with EEAA Chief Executive, Joyce DiMascio, Geoff spoke about global trends in exhibitions and explained that there is a growing convergence between exhibitions and conferences. He said Business Events are becoming more widely recognised as drivers of trade, export and the economy and Australia needs to continue to invest in the sector to compete on the world stage.

We’re all in the “fame” game – the power of human engagement

Penny Burke, Director, Essence Communications

Penny challenged Members to identify what they are “famous” for and leverage it to grow. She encouraged Members to recognise both their “functional” and “emotional” purpose and understand what people value most in engagement in order to succeed. It was a most provocative and entertaining presentation.

Technology and the future of events – what are the trends and how will they impact the business of exhibitions?

Phil Silverstone, General Manager – Australia, Eventbrite

Phil discussed current trends in event technology and how the exhibition sector can adopt new practices to create holistic and memorable visitor experiences. In particular, he said the social and mobile revolutions were opportunities we can tap into further.

The online communications platforms that frame the engagement journey for visitors and exhibitors – where is this headed?

Brian Cohen, Group Marketing Director, Diversified Communications Australia

Brian highlighted the need for industry change. He said we should be focusing on the narrative around expos, adopting technologies that enhance the visitor experience and he challenged us to look towards big innovations and big data for the future success of our sector.

Conrad System – a case study showing the successful balance of human interaction and the application of a technology-driven solution

Paul Baker, Director, Reed Exhibitions, ReedPOP

Paul showcased Reed Exhibition’s award winning Conrad System as an example of getting the balance right between technology and human interaction. He said the Conrad System and its success enhanced the visitor experience and took the show to the next level, allowing it to grow further. Paul stressed the importance of continuing to innovate with technology but to always think about the experience from a customer perspective.

Curation and its power to drive engagement and attendance

Gillian Minervini, Director, gill minervini creative

Gill highlighted the importance of including curation in event planning and spoke about the ways curation can drive engagement, visitor numbers and the growth of an event or show. Gill shared her experience as the producer/director of Winter Feast for MONA’s Dark Mofo Festival and other events, providing many examples of exciting ways to curate live events.

The rise and rise of the Australian Open – what can we learn from its success?

Tom Larner, Director Events & Facilities, Tennis Australia

Tom shared the compelling story of the Australian Open and the steps taken to grow this iconic event on the world stage. Tom discussed Tennis Australia’s efforts to grow event publicity, attendance and revenue streams as key to the success of the Australian Open, which had to be done through constant innovation and a focus on the visitor experience. Tom challenged Members to continue being innovative if they want to grow their shows.


The Federal election campaign may be in full swing but that didn’t stop the Australian Government’s Minister responsible for the visitor economy from joining the EEAA at the Leaders Forum Dinner on 9 June.

We were honoured to welcome Senator Richard Colbeck, Minister for Tourism and International Education, and Minister Assisting the Minister for Trade and Investment, and his key team – Chief of Staff, Vanessa Findlay and Media Advisor, Rachelle Miller.

The event format was an open forum with Members outlining what our sector needs from the Government and its agencies. The Minister responded to these remarks with a positive and encouraging speech that clearly showed the Senator’s strong appreciation of the value of trade and consumer exhibitions.

The Minister’s participation was a fitting tribute to our industry as our leaders gathered for Global Exhibitions Day.

Minister Colbeck reinforced the government’s support for our sector:

“Events and exhibitions are an important part of the wider visitor economy and the government recognises the valuable contribution they make to our tourism industry,” Senator Colbeck said.

“The visitor economy is one of the five key super-growth sectors supporting our economic transition from the mining boom to a more diversified economy – this is creating a focus on the business events sector./

“The Turnbull Government backs industries that help our economy grow and generate employment opportunities. The Australian business events sector has made good progress in the last few years and has very promising growth potential.

“I congratulate the EEAA on such a successful Leaders Forum and I look forward to working closely to help grow our visitor economy into the future.”

The dinner was held at Aerial, one of the newest venues of the Food and Desire portfolio.

Watch the highlights video

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