In an exclusive interview with Travel And Tour World, Stephanie Martin, the Head of Sales, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC), shares her view on her experience at AIPC Future Shapers programme.
What’s the Future Shapers program and why were you selected to take part?
Stephanie Martin: The AIPC Future Shapers program is designed for Senior Leaders with over 7 years of experience in convention centre management. I would fortunate to be asked to apply whilst on maternity leave in 2021 with the intent to bring my learning back to the business when I returned from maternity leave in Feb 2022.
For 9 months, 14 senior leaders of the AIPC community and industry went through an intensive leadership program that is intended to accelerate the leadership skills of the participants and ultimately pitch ideas that help design and solve some our industries challenges.
The program was delivered in three overlapping phases:
Phase 1 – Lecture series
A lecture series and in depth self evaluation and development workshops with leaders from within and aligned to our industry.
Phase 2 – Mentoring
The participants were matched with mentors who are CEOs of the AIPC membership.
Phase 3 – The Industry Challenge
Future Shapers were split into two teams to workshop business solution ideation, business case development and project implementation planning. This work then concluded with both teams pitching their ideas at the AIPC conference as part of a challenge.
Through the program we have been able to connect with some incredible people that we wouldn’t have had the opportunity without this program. The network and connections we now share will be life-long and I know together we will keep advocating for our industry and ensure we continue to create strong career pathways for our people.
What are three things that you have learnt about yourself during the Future Shapers program?
Stephanie Martin: Diversity and cross functional teams are key. Diverse thought and leadership is what creates great things. To quote cathy o’dowd one of our incredible speakers “You need a small group of people who have a HUGE vision”. I really feel the inaugural future shapers cohort really embodied this given our varied experience, navigating through timezones and our day jobs.
Secondly listening to our people and customers continues to be king. We carry a great of responsibility in ensuring our customers are able to continue to meet and achieve their desired event outcomes which so many are tied to legacy, sustainability and of course revenue generating activities to support our business and theirs in their continued operations.
In terms of our people, events have returned back quicker than expected and we have all had to continue to monitor and measure the health and wellbeing of our people. We also know so many have left our industry so we need to continue coming together to ensure our career paths remain attractive and desirable to the current and future generations.
Tell us what you pitched as your idea to help benefit the AIPC community?
Stephanie Martin: I would love too – here is a little teaser from our pitch at the AIPC conference recently. For 35 years there have been a number of event core systems available to convention centres however there has not been a single disrupter to take the industry to the next level with greater ability to connect, collaborate and provide customers with self service tools.
We all deserve:
One platform that provides an integrated turnkey solution for all events
You deserve one centralized platform for all information and real time communication and collaboration
Your teams deserve efficiency
Your customers deserve to be able to self service and stay connected
Everyone deserves EventShaper!!
EventShaper is a collaboration and event management platform and client portal, built by venue experts for event management professionals.
EventShaper provides integrated, end to end services including booking, communication, event design and account management planning tools using real time data, so you and your clients stay informed, organised, and connected — all in one place.”
The benefits of EventShaper to Convention centers are:
Reduced costs for multiple licensing
Increased revenue through effective yield management
The ability to scale up by adding services such as registration, hotel accommodation or virtual events.
EventShaper will unite the industry by elevating the customer experience through best practice tools.
It’s time to be part of the change!
How do others get involved in the program?
Stephanie Martin: The next application for the Future Shaper program is due to be released in September 2022, each centre may nominate up to 2 senior leaders from their businesses to apply. Please keep a look out! I will be joining the AIPC Taskforce who will oversee the program and its next cohort which will be incredibly rewarding and I look forward to continuing to contribute to the community.
What are the marketing strategies MCEC adopted to secure the events in future?
Stephanie Martin: We’ve recently worked to transform our market position by becoming the ‘home of the unconventional’. Having been a leader in the industry for 25 years, we knew we couldn’t rely on that past success, so took a new direction, based on the business strategy 2021-24 and its key priority areas of: people, financial sustainability, community pride and new markets and products.
The refreshed brand embraces MCEC’s ambition to be the best, to lead and innovate, while bringing real value to customers and the community.
MCEC faced the challenges of the pandemic by using it as an opportunity to reimagine our business, and as a result, emerged as forward-thinking leaders, using our space in new ways like training guide dogs, opening Australia’s first Drive In(Door) Cinema and even using empty exhibition bays as a Hollywood film set, starring Liam Neeson.
It became clear that we needed a brand that reflected the exciting new chapter we’d carved out in the face of adversity.
How is MCEC working on the sustainability and responsibility issue?
Stephanie Martin: We are always working to find innovative ideas that provide better outcomes for our community, our customers and our environmental footprint. We will continue to deliver creative solutions for our customers and collaborate with industry partners to ensure MCEC is a truly sustainable event destination.
Launched in July 2021, our five-year sustainability strategy has ambitious targets to create a positive impact for our planet and community.
We’re aiming high, with a target to achieve net zero emissions by 2030. We are working to eliminate problematic and unnecessary single-use plastics, divert 90 per cent of waste from landfill by 2025, and to be completely powered by renewable electricity by 2028.
At the same time, we will contribute towards increasing Victoria’s biodiversity, habitats and ecosystem health by 2025, continue to source sustainably and support OzHarvest to rescue and redistribute food to people in need.
Our key highlights include:
Our Siddeley St carpark is being transformed into a 2,000m2 rooftop farm. Melbourne Skyfarm will feature sustainable dining, education and event spaces and provide around five tonnes of produce each year, much of which will be donated to local food charities.
Melbourne Renewable Energy Project –
In 2018 we joined 13 other reputable Melbourne organisations to support the development of a wind farm in regional Victoria. This agreement has enabled us to offset the entire electricity use of our 20,000 square metre expansion space with renewable energy. This is equivalent to 15 per cent of the entire venue’s electricity consumption.
In-house expertise –
In 2020 we appointed a full time Sustainability Manager.
Please share your opinion on World Tourism Day 2022- Rethink Tourism
Stephanie Martin: World Tourism Day is an important acknowledgement for this sector in particular following the hit the entire industry has taken across the pandemic.
As the sector’s recovery gets underway, MCEC and indeed the rest of the industry will need to continue to look at the changing world around us and adapt to the needs of our customers.
We will take this as an opportunity to continue to put our people first, champion sustainability initiatives and continue to think of more unconventional ways we can use our venue.
What are the events you have secured for the 2022-2023 event tourism industry?
We have secured some of the most important events like:
Fine Food 2022 8,300 pax
TEG Dainty presents Jonathan Van Ness 5,000 pax
PAX 8,000 pax
Pregnancy Babies & Children’s Expo 2022 6,000 pax
Dog Lovers Show 2022 4,000 pax
TEG Dainty presents Sacha Baron Cohen 5,000 pax
In The Dark Presents Fantastic 5 – Ru Paul’s Drag Race Season 14 Tour 1,200 pax