Compressing an entire destination into a single night seems impossible, but EMG manages to pull off a memorable event with finesse.
Each year, prior to the commencement of AIME, Melbourne Convention Bureau (MCB) hosts a Welcome Reception for hosted buyers, media and other industry players.
In 2016, MCB’s brief was to showcase Melbourne along with a unique event space in the city, and to ensure the audience knew the organisation was the event host. Through a rigorous tender process, Event Management Group (EMG) was awarded the contract.
EMG opted for the One Year in Melbourne in One Night theme in celebration of the city’s vibrant arts, culture, food and festivals. The vision was executed through multimedia, food and performance inspired by the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, providing the audience with a complete sensory experience.
EMG’s director, Peter Jack, explained: “Victoria’s Secret Fashion Shows showcase technology, design, lighting and music, and you’re sucked into it. What we wanted to do was deliver a show that in a 15-minute slot you could get a taste of what Melbourne is all about.”
On the Friday prior to the event, ticket sales jumped. The event and venue was designed to accommodate between 1,000 and 1,100 guests comfortably, but numbers had grown to 1,400.
Jack said: “Unlike a convention centre, which is designed for people, traffic flow, movement and access, pop up venues aren’t – they’re converted spaces.
“So how do we ensure that we design something that people are pushed in all different directions and we create a flow? That was one of my biggest challenges when we hit 1,400 people.”
In addition, Jack said the event concept was a risk.
“It can’t be a one dimensional thing; it can’t be just about the venue, or the food, or the entertainment. If you can’t connect everything together it doesn’t make sense. If we’re talking about events and destinations then you need to be able to showcase what a destination can bring to the audience,” he said.
To pull off the event’s theme, Jack’s concept included a ‘show’ element combining film with a live performance; an art installation and roving performers; and four different food stations, including a fish and chippery, and an edible graffiti buffet. Furthermore, all these had to be executed on a very tight budget.
To cater for the larger audience, Jack redesigned the entire event, switching around the food stations to ensure ease of movement for the large crowd. That is with the exception of the Asian noodle and dumpling experience, which was bundled into a tight corner to create a hot and steamy atmosphere.
“Are they going to be comfortable? No, but they’re going to remember the experience,” Jack said.
To realise his vision on a restrictive budget, Jack and his team worked with more than 30 partners – from the Atlantic Group for catering, right through to local department store, Myer, for the performers’ costumes.
Jack conceded that flexibility, adaptability and leveraging partnerships were the key to success for the AIME Welcome Reception.
“We wanted to take them somewhere they didn’t expect to go,” said Jack.
And for Jack and his team, hearing the continuous roar of the crowd throughout the main performance was testament to success.
Event: Asia-Pacific Incentives and Meetings Expo Welcome Reception
Organiser/Client: Event Management Group for the Melbourne Convention Bureau
Venue: 400 City Road
Date: February 22, 2016
Number of participants: 1,400