Improving the performance of the Exhibition and Event community

EEAA 2017 Conference

28-30 November 2017

Our annual Conference and Awards for Excellence have wrapped up for another year, completing our official event program for 2017. This year’s finale events were extra special for the Association as we celebrated 25 years of service to our members and the business event community in Australasia.

This special conference wrap covers some of the highlights of the events which ran over 28-30 November in Melbourne.

We thank those of you who attended – we have received a lot of positive feedback about the Conference and Awards, with particular praise for the quality of the content. In fact, many have claimed it to be the “best conference yet” – this is an outstanding endorsement of the our carefully curated program and of course our stellar presenters.

We changed the conference format to include a day of deep-dive clinics – these were a resounding success.

Some of the key themes discussed:

  1. Major changes are occurring in our economies, societies, politics and technology making it more difficult than ever to predict the future.
  2. Never stop evolving – there are plenty of opportunities and an equal number of challenges, so being nimble and open to trying new things will define the success stories of the future.
  3. Preparation is the most important tool for success – nothing beats a well-developed plan or strategy to focus on the things that matter most to your business and keep you on track and in control should a crisis hits.

Throughout the conference, we heard from leading strategists and analysts on the most significant political, economic, social and industry trends shaping the exhibition and events sector today. We looked at the opportunities and challenges in great detail and, via our new deep-dive specialist clinics, armed our members with practical advice, tools and strategies to help them better prepare for success in the years to come.

Welcome Reception showcases new and stylish venue

The EEAA 2017 Conference kicked off with a Welcome Reception at the new and stylish Member venue, Metropolis.

Venue owners, Georgina Damm and Eddie Muto, welcomed EEAA guests to the stunning new venue along Melbourne’s waterfront at Southgate, and treated our guests to high quality catering and spectacular service. This is a very special place – Melbourne’s new secret which we were pleased to introduce again to our Members.

EEAA President, Spiro Anemogiannis, officially opened the Conference and commended EEAA events for their networking and learning opportunities.

Conference highlights – a global perspective

Our international keynote speaker, Denzil Rankine, Founder and Executive Chairman, AMR International was a big hit at this year’s conference. Kicking off the first day with a hint of British humour, the global strategist provided a worldview of the trends in the exhibition industry, such as the high levels of interest in the sector globally, signalling opportunity.

“We have unprecedented levels of money trying to get into this industry – unprecedented numbers of people with money and unprecedented levels of money – But with this opportunity comes challenges”

However, as a maturing industry, does this represent a goldmine or a gold rush? While he did leave this question open for the audience to consider, Denzil further outlined several firm trends and opportunities that will shape the industry into the future, such as slowing growth, changing delegate expectations and the industry’s struggle to understand data and digital, along with a set of solutions that he believed would be adopted by winning organisations.

His was also one of the most popular deep-dive sessions, providing participants with a unique opportunity to delve into his keynote discussion in greater detail, unpack the impact of these global trends on the local industry, and discuss their own specific business challenges with this renowned industry strategist.

Chief Economist for Urbis, Nicki Hutley, focused on the global political and economic context and the important trends for the industry to watch out for in the coming years. Among those is uncertainty as one of the biggest killers of growth – uncertainty fuelled by such things as unstable political leaders and structural changes like BREXIT – declining consumer confidence, low rates of employment for university graduates, housing affordability and a lack of skilled labour in key growth sectors.

Despite this growing global uncertainty, however, Nicki pointed to positive trends in global growth that is signalling an encouraging outlook for business and industry in Australia, with global economic forecasting consistently pointing to growth for the first time since the Global Financial Crisis.

“There’s a lot of change going on. Don’t look just here, be looking further out into the future. There is massive change happening in our society, in our economies, the structure of our economies, in the way we use technology to do different things, in our relationship with Asia. You don’t want to be the Blackberry or the Kodak of the world.”

Steve Spurr, CEO of Edelman Australia continued the discussion on the trends affecting our future, narrowing down to the Australian context with insights from the latest Edelman Trust Barometer. His entertaining delivery and presentation highlighted some worrying trends in Australia – notably that our institutions are in crisis, with overall trust shifting from institutions to individuals. This is being driven, in part, by fear coming from a smaller diet of information, the pace of innovation and perceptions that the system is failing us.

Tourism Australia’s John O’Sullivan pointed to growing global competition in our sector as more and more governments around the world recognise the value of exhibitions and events to national prosperity and increase their investment in the sector. In his view, technology and workforce will be critically important to our future success.

“The key parts we have to right for this industry to flourish is around workforce. We really rely on people’s experiences. If they don’t get a good one, they won’t come back.”

Other speakers included:

  • James Moran, General Manager CASA, Apprenticeship Support Australia
  • Kathy Herd, Events Commercial Program Co-ordinator, TAFE NSW
  • Domenic Genua, National Manager – Member Events & Marketing, Boating
    Industry Association
  • David Longman, General Manager, Diversified Communications Australia
  • Richard Ireland, Managing Director, Clarion Events Asia
  • Robby Clark, Exhibition Director – Industrial Portfolio, Reed Exhibitions Australia

Knowledge is power – without action it’s just information

Strategist Rosie Yeo advocated ‘powerful strategy’ as an antidote for uncertainty, and highlighted that with the right tools and approach, strategy doesn’t have to be as scary or difficult as people might think. She discussed her secrets for simplifying the process, with practical tips and advice for having richer conversations about strategy that lead to positive outcomes.

Strategy is about getting things done. Without implementation, you have a dream, not a strategy. If you really don’t think you have time for strategy, think again. If you’re not doing it, someone else is thinking about how they can get long-term advantage in your industry using your clients, your supply chains etc.” she said.

Continuing with this theme of active planning, former 60 Minutes Producer/journalist Peter Wilkinson discussed effectively managing crisis situations. “Crises” can come in many forms and impact your business in different ways – from PR or social media attacks to natural disasters and industry disruption. They are generally not of our making, and can strike at any time. How you respond is critical because “you can be defined by a single event. You don’t want your identity to be defined by others.” Having a plan in place that you can activate at a moment’s notice will ensure you have control when crisis strikes.

Understanding the current risk and security environment is essential for today’s businesses. Craig Sheridan APM EMPA, Victorian Police representative Inspector Mark Morris and MCEC’s Leighton Wood, outlined steps our members can take to ensure they are in the best possible position to mitigate security threats and respond effectively when breaches occur. Preparation was again highlighted as the best defence, as was knowing about and utilising the resources available through local and national police.

The M Agency’s Emma Triggs, shared her expertise in event marketing success. Emma focused on the power of data to improve event marketing outcomes, providing practical insights into how members can use data they already have – data she believes many don’t realise they have access to – to uncover audience insights, identify secondary audiences, and track how audiences change over time.

Deep-dive clinics – practical tools for real-time application

Participants gained additional practical advice, tools and strategies to help with important areas of strategic and operational decision making via our deep-dive specialist clinics:

  • Sales Clinic, Murray Grimston, Advisory Partner, Miller Heiman Group
  • Strategy and Insights Clinic, Denzil Rankine, Founder and Executive Chairman, AMR International
  • Social Media Marketing Clinic, Felicity Zadro, Founder and Managing Director, Zadro
  • Marketing Optimisation Clinic, Brad McIntyre, Country Manager – New Zealand, Eventbrite
  • Logistics and Safety Clinic, Sharon Friedman, Safety Manager, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre and Jim Pantopolis, General Manager – Australia and New Zealand, Agility Fairs & Events
  • Stand Design and Experience Clinic, Giles Carlyle, Senior Account Manager and Designer, Designteam; Adam Gottlieb, Founder & CEO, TELEPORTIVITY – powered by Worker Clicks

Celebrating 25 years of service to the exhibition and event industry