Size matters: Industry applauds MCEC expansion

The 20,000sqm expansion of the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) officially opened this week, making it Australia’s largest convention and exhibition space.

The AUD205 million project increases the total size of the venue to 70,000sqm. New light-filled spaces include the Goldfields Theatre, a 9,000sqm multi-purpose space with 1,000 retractable seats, new exhibition halls and meeting rooms, and an outdoor terrace that pay homage to the Victorian goldfields.

The expansion is part of a larger South Wharf project in Melbourne that also includes a new 347-room Novotel Melbourne South Wharf, which is integrated with MCEC.

Clients and industry members were introduced to the new space during an official launch event on Monday (9 July). Geoffrey Sussman, associate professor of wound care at Monash Institute for Health and Clinical Education, was impressed by the “wonderful feeling of welcoming, and comfortable space”.

Marie Kinsella, CEO of the IEC Group, organiser of the WHS Show, International Sourcing Expo and many others, said: “The expanded MCEC space is very impressive. It will give greater flexibility with the production of our events due to the integrated areas… and the architectural finishes are quite beautiful.”

As one of the original association ambassadors in Melbourne Convention Bureau’s Club Melbourne Ambassador Program, Sussman has worked closely with MCEC and the bureau to bring several inaugural events to Melbourne, including the First World Union of Wound Healing Societies, with more than 1,200 delegates. Referring to his delegates demands for more interactivity, Sussman applauded the creativity of the MCEC team, especially when it comes to event catering. “The food is phenomenal – our delegates always love the food,” he said.

While Monday’s launch event introduced clients to the new space, the emphasis was undeniably on the creative event formats now possible at the venue through MCEC’s partnership with C2 International.

Fresh from presenting to the annual gathering of the world’s convention centres at the AIPC Conference in London, MCEC chief executive, Peter King, highlighted the growing trend around the “festivalisation” of business events. “C2 will help us deliver experience and we know experience must have outcomes. We are keen to work creatively with organisers giving a true ‘value-add’ with this experiential event design service that is now a part of our tool kit.”

He added: “Together with C2 we’ll work to reinvent the role venues play in helping deliver events that generate positive connections and meaningful experiences.

Founded by Cirque du Soleil and Sid Lee, C2 International will bring its flagship Montreal event to Melbourne in October (17-19), transforming MCEC into a location for immersive workshops, deep-dive masterclasses and learning lab, artistic performances and specially curated ‘braindates’.

Guests at the launch were encouraged to try out a number of the learning labs, which included meeting in a pool of plastic balls or in total darkness – where guests were challenged to “reset the agenda and put imagination at the forefront”.