Meeting and Events Australia’s (MEA) rebooted annual conference, Evolve, took place in Brisbane last week, with three days of learning, knowledge sharing and networking.
From 31 March to 2 April, delegates gathered at Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre to take part in conference sessions, workshops and industry forums, and to explore the latest in the industry at the Evolve Marketplace.
The host city
All eyes were on Brisbane to put on a show-stopping event, following the success of the 2018 MEA Conference in Adelaide.
Brisbane delivered on all expectations, showcasing its outstanding food and beverage offering, amazing venues and its ability to host top quality corporate events.
With so much development happening across the city right now, Evolve was the perfect opportunity for the industry to get a first-hand look at what is on offer in Brisbane.
As the conference venue, Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre pulled out all the stops for Evolve delegates, showcasing their state-of-the-art culinary offering at each conference break.
Different food stations were scattered throughout the Plaza floor for attendees to enjoy. We couldn’t resist the taco bar and curry station!
Evolve’s conference program was jam-packed with engaging sessions, plenary talks and workshops under eight conference “tracks”, designed to offer something for every delegate.
One of the highlights of the conference was the enthusiastic Steve Sammartino, who presented a plenary session on day two exploring the rapid rate of technology disruption in Australia.
With the evolution of technology moving at such a fast pace, Sammartino reminded delegates of the importance of human interaction, saying a good use of technology increases humanity, while a bad use of technology decreases humanity.
His three recommendations for Evolve delegates were to spend 10 minutes each day investing in yourself, to take up a side project and to remember to put humans first in today’s tech-driven world.
Other stand-out conference sessions included LinkedIn for Business with Kylie Chown, City Forecasts with business events experts, Dietary Requirements workshop, The Three Brain Theory with Peter Bliss and Your Values, Your Compass, Your People with Kemi Nekvapil.
The plenary sessions were another highlight of the Evolve program, with engaging presentations by a number of speakers including journalist Peter Greste, who shared the lessons he learnt during his time in an Egyptian prison; international guest Susan Kirby, who discussed her role as CEO of St Patrick’s Festival and James Castrission, Australian explorer and founder of MyAdventure Group, who shared the strategies he used to achieve two world records and how they can be applied in business.
The first day of the conference ended with a colourful, Urban Jungle-themed welcome event hosted by The Fresh Collective at Queensland Museum.
Stilt walkers and fire performers roamed the venue, while guests explored the various food and beverage stations on offer, including an oyster bar, paella station and a floating dessert table.
Guests continued networking into the night at the Club MEA after party at Soleil Pool Bar at Rydges South Bank.
The casual networking night took place at Howard Smith Wharves on 1 April, where delegates got the opportunity to experience one of Brisbane’s hottest new event and dining precincts.
The food offering at Howard Smith Wharves was a stand-out, with fresh seafood, Japanese Yakitori and roaming canapes just some of the highlights.
Guests soaked in the atmosphere and the prime location beneath the Story Bridge, before enjoying a firework and light show by Skylighter Fireworks and Jetpack Events and Entertainment.
The party continued at Howard Smith Wharves’ over-water bar, Mr Percival’s.
The conference culminated in the MEA National Awards Dinner, where the industry’s top performers were recognised and celebrated.
A total 32 awards were presented on the night, recognising the top events, venues, event professionals and event teams of 2018.
The full list of 2018 MEA National Award winners are as follows:
Association event of the year: ICMS Australasia for the IEEE 2018 International Conference on Robotics and Automation
Government event of the year: Queensland Department of Education, Creative Generation – State Schools Onstage 2018
Corporate event of the year: Forum Group Events & Marketing, South Africa Tourism Event Roadshow
Event of the year (incentives and special event): AA&P Events, Darwin Amazing Race Experience
Exhibition of the year: Get Global
Public event of the year (including festivals): Lateral Event Management, L’Etape Australia
Cause-related event of the year: Peter Jones Special Events, 2018 Field Of Women – Stand with me at the G
Regional event of the year: Lateral Events, L’Etape Australia
Professional conference organisation: Arinex
Event management team – government: Department Of Education, Programs and Events, SCE
Event management team – corporate: The Star Sydney
Event agency: Belle Laide Events
Meeting, exhibition or event venue (less than 500): Crowne Plaza Terrigal Pacific
Meetings, exhibition or event venue (more than 500): Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre
Unique event venue with accommodation: Q Station
Unique venue without accommodation: State Library Victoria
Operations person of the year: Isabella Ravenswood, Museum Spaces
Sales, marketing or business development person of the year: Alana Hay, Milestone Creative
Event manager of the year – PCO: Melissa Murphy, Arinex
Event manager of the year – agency: Stephanie Vercoe, Forum Group Events & Marketing
Event manager of the year – in-house: Dewi Gutierrez, ICC Sydney
MEA future leader: Ashleigh Duggan, Arinex
Banqueting and catering: Adelaide Convention Centre
Audio visual services: AV1
Event technology: Sprintr by AV1
Specialist services and suppliers: PBM Safety
Exhibition services: Exponet
Education and training: ICC Sydney
Innovation award: A.C.T.A. by The Event Ecosystem
Platinum award – company: Sprintr by AV1
Platinum award – individual: Melissa Murphy, Arinex
Outstanding contribution award: Simon Baggs, Lateral Events
All images courtesy of Oneill Photographics