Melbourne Convention Bureau’s (MCB) pre-trade program, Uncover Melbourne, has been deemed the best ever, raising the bar for the 25th anniversary of the Asia-Pacific Incentives and Meetings Expo (AIME).
Designed to showcase Melbourne’s world-class business events capability, Uncover Melbourne offered international and local hosted buyers two days of immersive experiences that captured the unique pulse of the city, while showcasing why Melbourne is a benchmark city for business events.
The Uncover Melbourne program kicked off on 19 February with a day of city touring experiences. Ten tours took hosted buyers across the city, with unique experiences including a helicopter flight over Melbourne’s stunning Yarra Valley wine region, a canape making class at Zinc by Epicure, Hunt and Gather food tour at Queen Victoria Market, carnival experience at Luna Park, a backstage tour of the Melbourne Arts Centre, being a star for a day at Melbourne & Olympic Parks and champagne tasting at The Alfred, to name a few.
Over 28 of MCB partners took part in the City Experiences, relishing the opportunity to showcase their product to creative and influential buyers.
The day concluded with The Magic of Flemington, a welcome function for hosted buyers presented in partnership with Business Events Australia. The Magic of Flemington bought to life Flemington Racecourse, home to one of Australia’s most iconic events, the Melbourne Cup, ‘the race that stops a nation’.
As the first official social event on the AIME calendar, the event provided hosted buyers with the opportunity to catch up with old and new friends, make new business connections and settle into a week of discovering Melbourne’s appeal as a leading business events destination.
Guests also took part in the biggest selfie ever taken at AIME, led by MCB CEO Karen Bolinger, enjoyed Victorian Oakridge wines, had photos taken with the celebrated 18-carat gold 2017 Emirates Melbourne Cup trophy and champion racehorse Apache Cat, and had a sweep on the phantom horse race titled ‘The Greatest Race Never Run.’
The second day of Uncover Melbourne included two new experiences, starting with The Charm of the Yarra breakfast at Cargo Hall, by South Wharf Events. The event, supported by City of Melbourne broke the record for number of guests seated along South Wharf Promenade boardwalk next to the Yarra River, accommodating over 300 VIPs and hosted buyers along one magnificent long table.
With guests welcomed by City of Melbourne Deputy Lord Mayor Arron Wood, the riverside breakfast wowed and entertained, featuring vocals from Melbourne based solo artist Luke Joseph.
Guests were presented with a unique breakfast showcasing Melbourne’s modern food scene, including grilled vegetable and Victorian oak-smoked cheddar frittata, chive potato rosti, slow-cooked balsamic tomato, beetroot paint, heirloom carrots, twice-cooked pressed pork rasher and chlorophyll oil.
Brad Dabbs, General Manager, South Wharf Events said the event was a huge success for attendees and the venues.
“For us the breakfast resulted in over 300 new professional connections and two new open enquiries, which we anticipate will only grow with the increased awareness of South Wharf Events unique and creative offering.
“Each year at AIME we aspire to showcase the breadth of the Showtime offering, hence why this year we decided to do something we have never done before, and break a record at our Cargo Hall venue!
“Our location is in the heart of the business events sector with Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre on our doorstep. This gives us a unique advantage and AIME is the ideal platform to allow us to capitalise on this,” said Brad.
Following the breakfast hosted buyers and industry VIPs enjoyed the short walk between Cargo Hall and Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) to take part in MCB’s inaugural Melbourne Edge – Event Series.
The inspiring education forum, supported by MCEC, was broken down into four sessions exploring the future of the business meetings industry through presentations, panel debate and immersive activities.
The first session from award winning social researcher, Mark McCrindle, launched the MCB commissioned ‘The Future of Business Meetings Industry Report’. The report outlined how the conference experience will evolve over the next 25 years and what organisers and delegates will expect from business events.
The results of the report were discussed in the second session titled the “Great Industry Debate”, with a panel of industry experts including Karen Bolinger, CEO MCB; Bond Leung, Business Travel Lead, Australia and New Zealand, Airbnb; Deborah Sexton, President and CEO of Professional Convention Management Association and Don Welsh, President and CEO of Destination Marketing Association International.
Following the lively discussion, interactive team building agency, Be Challenged, guided guests through a meditainment session which involved a choose your own adventure style session combining entertainment with meditation. MCEC continued the wellness theme by providing healthy lunch boxes for guests.
The final session from MCEC culminated in theatrical production titled Symphony of the Senses. Paired with a dramatic audio-visual production, Symphony of the Senses showcased what happens behind the scenes to deliver world-class events at MCEC and was designed to recognise all the people who contribute to a customer’s experience at the venue.
Karen Bolinger, MCB CEO said the Melbourne Edge – Event Series is an exciting new asset for MCB and partners.
“AIME was the ideal launch pad for this new MCB property. We designed Melbourne Edge – Event Series with the intention for it to take place numerous times a year in various locations and formats, with the goal of being an engaging education forum with presentations and speakers that will inspire out of the box thinking.
“We’re already planning the next event so stay tuned!”
The jewel in the crown for the Uncover Melbourne program was the highly anticipated AIME Welcome Event, which took place at Carousel by Food & Desire in Albert Park.
Showcasing the state’s thriving creative industries, event management company Solution Entertainment transformed the space into a sensory space for over 1,300 industry guests.
On arrival, guests were welcomed by electric harpist, Jake Meadows positioned on the rooftop of the Carousel forecourt, as well as renowned Australian artist, David Bromley, live painting a commemorative 25th anniversary piece. A bespoke balloon installation created by Belle’s Balloons provided a simple yet visually inspiring entrance hall.
Entertainment continued throughout the evening with performances by 14 contemporary dance artists choreographed by Jessica Smith, poetry by poet Rupert McCall, an opera singer and beat box battle between Josh Piterman and Terry the Beat Boxer and music from Le Soul that kept guests dancing well past closing time.
Even the stunning Albert Park Lake was not overlooked as a stage for art, with eight branded sail boats sailing in front of the event with their sails lit up, bringing the lake to life.
Karen Bolinger said “we couldn’t be happier with the result of the Welcome Event and our choice to engage Solution Entertainment as the event producers. They not only nailed the brief, but went above and beyond our expectations with their professionalism, creativity and delivery.
“They’ve really set the benchmark for the Welcome Event for years to come,” she concluded.