Evolving with the times

As the first conference held in person since 2019, Meetings & Events Australia's Evolve 2022 had to overcome pandemic-related challenges in order to facilitate the opportunity for attendees to upskill and refresh their knowledge on the latest event trends

Event brief
Meetings & Events Australia’s annual conference Evolve 2022 was designed to bring the Australian events sector together under the theme Building Confidence through Best Practice.

Cognisant of the circumstances the world has endured for the past couple of years, this year’s Evolve was a hybrid model, offering both in-person and virtual registration options, and curated to offer a complementary balance of learning and interpersonal interaction.

Held in Melbourne, the one-day conference programme was bookended by two networking nights. It also garnered support from multiple sponsors and exhibitors such as EventsAir, Melbourne Convention Bureau and Touchpoint.

Event highlights
On June 29, a Melbourne laneway and street art-inspired Welcome Reception greeted in person delegates. The team from Sofitel Melbourne On Collins impressed guests with a fantastic assortment of entertainment – complete with dancing kids, drag queens, a DJ and renowned artist Gosia Wlodarczak who sketched a one-night-only masterpiece to commemorate the evening.

Meanwhile, highlights of the educational programme included former head of innovation & creativity for Disney, Duncan Wardle, who proved that face-to-face isn’t the only way to fully engage an audience. His delightful ‘Think Different – The Disney Way!’ virtual keynote had the audience brainstorming creative event ideas with their neighbour starting with the words ‘What If…’ and replacing “but” responses with “and then”.

Host extraordinaire Holly Ransom also delivered a keynote session counselling that astute leading is done through managing your energy not your time, focusing on what motivates you and remembering that our future is determined by what we do today.

Evolve 2022 was the culmination of two years of work following multiple postponements due to a global pandemic and lockdowns.

Originally planned to be held in May 2020, Evolve was first postponed when the pandemic first hit Australian shores, then again in August 2021 when MEA made the decision to defer the conference to June 2022. The primary factor behind these decisions was the uncertainty around border and travel restrictions at the time, as well as the limitations on in-person events.

Coming into its third iteration in as many years, delivering Evolve as a Covid-safe event to the standards of the Victorian Government health guidelines was MEA’s primary concern. Delegates attending in person were reminded to stay home if unwell, maintain social distancing where possible, and wash their hands regularly. In addition to this, Covid-safe food service was provided by the Sofitel team, where individual serving portions were available at morning tea, lunch, and afternoon tea.

The conference program also presented a challenge. Evolve has traditionally been a three-day programme, padded out by evening networking opportunities. This year’s conference program was condensed into a one-day hybrid offering.

The educational program was split into three main breakout pillars – Building Confidence, Best Practice, and Future Leaders. Trending topics which had been confirmed for the original conference in 2020 had to amend coming into 2022 to provide delegates with the most up-to-date information possible on a range of subjects including tech, leadership, and the future of the industry itself.

Event Meetings & Events Australia Evolve 2022
Organiser TPM Events
Venue Sofitel Melbourne on Collins
Dates June 29-30, 2022
Attendance 290 in-person, 60 virtual

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