Cisco Live’s conference pull-out keenly felt by Melbourne

Peter King, MCEC's chief executive speaking at AIME. Photo: Adelaine Ng

Cisco Live’s cancellation of its 8,500-pax conference in Melbourne will have a ripple effect on the city’s economy, and is one of the latest in a string of tradeshow cancellations that have swept through Asia-Pacific.

Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre’s chief executive Peter King voiced his disappointment at the digital giant’s “difficult decision” to pull the plug on the annual flagship conference initially scheduled for March 3-6, 2020, due to concerns surrounding the Covid-19 outbreak.

Peter King, MCEC’s chief executive speaking at AIME. Photo: Adelaine Ng

King pointed out that the decision was made by Cisco’s US corporate office, and was not reflective of the current business events environment in Melbourne or Australia.

“Cisco is one of our largest events,” said King at a press conference at AIME. “It was an extremely disappointing cancellation because we as a business, (and) also the local business events community, invested a huge amount of time in Cisco. It’s a wonderful event that brings high-yield delegates to Melbourne and to have that cancelled at such a late stage (last week) was a hit.”

“We have hundreds of casual workers and also stand builders who will no longer have an income that week. And we’ve got many, many hotel rooms that are going to be vacant, many (cancelled) restaurant bookings, (bringing about) a ripple effect from such large events,” King continued.

The cancellation is a setback in what has been otherwise a successful run for MCEC, which earlier reported its best-ever result in excess of A$100 million (US$67 million) in turnover, an increase in diversity of events and a growing foray into live music entertainment as a result of their expansion in 2018.

Business from the incentive and corporate meetings in Asia are also proving to be strong sources of revenue, with international bookings making up about 12 to 15 per cent of income.

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