CHICAGO — Australia’s business events industry is slated to launch a new association this July that will act as a unifying voice in the sector. Development of the new Australian Business Events Association (ABEA) has been led by a group comprised of directors from the country’s three main industry associations — The Association of Australian Convention Bureaux (AACB), the Australian Convention Centres Group (ACCG) and the Exhibition & Events Association of Australasia Ltd (EEAA).
Industry veteran Peter King, who was most recently the CEO of the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, was appointed as independent Chair of the Board.
“An industry of this size and importance needs a strong and robust industry association to commission research, create policy, train its people, tackle sustainability, develop career paths, link with international and domestic trade opportunities and powerfully advocate to government. Our challenges require us to work together,” King said.
According to a 2022 research study conducted by an independent consulting firm and commissioned by the Business Events Council of Australia (BECA), 84% of survey respondents wanted a unified body representing the sector to government and the broader business community. The study concluded that the duplication of services from numerous associations resulted in inefficient use of industry funds, with multiple advocacy voices creating confusion with stakeholders and diluting industry messaging.
“The industry has been on the fringe of the government’s radar for too long. COVID taught us that we need to get serious about amplifying our collective voice,” King noted.
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Business events contributed more than $36 billion nationally to Australia’s economy in the year prior to COVID. “The business events industry has a critical role to play in our economy’s success,” King said. “Business events are an enabler for all industries to come together to do business, innovate, develop workforces and trade — we foster the prosperity of our economy and society.”
ABEA will focus on the industry’s pillars of advocacy, according to King, including research and policy, development of the industry, the services members need to run their teams and businesses, and the promotion of the sector as a great place to work and do business. The membership categories for the ABEA will ensure engagement within the industry is accessible to all, regardless of business size, according to King.
“To successfully advocate for positive policies and investment decisions of governments, a peak body must become the trusted and united voice of the industry it represents,” Andrew Hiebl, AACB CEO, said. AACB and its members represent more than 1,800 tourism and events industry operators. “To feed the advocacy agenda, the new Australian Business Events Association will place a priority focus on research to demonstrate the economic contribution and social impact of business events as the leading experts.”
Domenic Genua, CEO of the EEAA, the main industry association for those in the business of trade and consumer expos and events, said, “The focus of our efforts will be on member prosperity, and through a consolidated business events community, we will have the critical mass required to address a broader range of industry needs. By coming together, we will have better opportunities for networking, education, advocacy, and developing new industry initiatives, among many other needs we can attend to.”
Reach Peter King (pictured) at Unite@abea.org.au; Domenic Genua at firstname.lastname@example.org; and Andrew Hiebl at email@example.com