Meetings and Events Australia (MEA)

June 27, 2024
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Meetings and Events Australia (MEA)

Event Industry Leaders

 

Charting the industry path with top-tier event offerings

As the oldest and largest association dedicated to the events industry in Australia, Meetings and Events Australia (MEA) holds a distinguished place in the dynamic world of events. Founded in 1975, MEA has been a benchmark of excellence and continuity for nearly half a century. As it approaches its 50th anniversary in 2025, the association reflects on its storied past while looking ahead to a future brimming with innovation and growth. Peter McDonald, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), leads the organization with visionary leadership and strategic acumen that drive MEA’s mission.

Legacy and diverse membership

“We were established in 1975; we will have our 50th anniversary in 2025. So, it’s quite an achievement, and not many organizations get to hang around for that time,” McDonald proudly remarks.

The association’s membership is diverse, encompassing individuals and businesses from every state and territory in Australia.

“Our members can fit into three broader segments. They are the people and businesses who produce events, the venues and destinations where events are held, and the suppliers to industry,” McDonald explains. The inclusivity ensures that MEA represents the entire spectrum of the events industry, from corporate conferences to grand festivals and intimate weddings.

 

Vision and mission

Under McDonald’s leadership, MEA has undergone significant strategic planning to refine its vision and mission. “These days, we’re saying our vision is to be and be recognized as the heart of the Australasian events community. Our mission and our strategic platform are to lead, empower, and connect individuals and businesses in the Australasian events community to achieve their goals through sustainable growth,” McDonald outlines. The mission is supported by four strategic platforms: leadership, empowerment, connection, and sustainable growth.

Communication and member engagement

Effective communication and engagement with its members are paramount for MEA. The association employs a multifaceted approach, combining electronic communication with face-to-face interactions. “We have an annual conference, Evolve, a weekly newsletter, direct emails, social media channels, and quarterly social and professional development events in each state and territory,” McDonald details. The blend of digital and personal interaction ensures that MEA remains accessible and relevant to its members, fostering a strong sense of community.

Membership benefits

MEA membership comes with many benefits designed to support and elevate its members within the industry. One of the highlights is the annual awards program, which recognizes the best in the industry. “It’s peer-judged and determined winners. Anybody who wins one of our awards has been recognized by others in the industry as the best for that year,” McDonald notes.

“We have a mentor program, which we’re also in the throes of launching for 2024. People at any stage of their career can nominate themselves or a member of their team to be mentored,” McDonald explains. The program is tailored to address a wide range of professional needs, from preparing for board roles to managing difficult workplace conversations.

The association also runs a registered training organization, offering a Diploma in Event Management. “We are a fully accredited deliverer of a Diploma of Event Management. Education by the industry for the industry,” McDonald emphasizes. This ensures that members have access to high-quality education and professional development tailored to the specific needs of the events industry.

Partnerships and advocacy

MEA’s success is reinforced by strategic partnerships with various commercial entities and government bodies. The partnerships are essential for the growth and sustainability of the organization and the industry it represents. “We collaborate with different organizations as they best suit our members at a particular time. That could be another association, a government department, or commercial sponsors,” McDonald elaborates.

Advocacy is another critical role that MEA plays. The association actively promotes the value of events and represents the industry’s interests to various stakeholders, including government bodies. “We are a voice for our members and the wider community to different parts of government, but we also publicly advocate the value of events,” McDonald asserts. The advocacy is crucial, especially in the post-pandemic landscape, where the industry is recovering and rebuilding.

COVID-19 social impact

The COVID-19 pandemic profoundly impacted the events industry, and MEA was no exception. “Our industry has been heavily impacted by the pandemic because of its social nature. It was one of the first to be affected and one of the last to recover,” McDonald reflects. The pandemic forced many businesses to innovate and adapt, leading to a shift towards hybrid and virtual events. However, the demand for in-person events resurges as the world returns to face-to-face interactions.

Looking ahead, McDonald is optimistic about the future of the events industry. “As a species, humans are social. There’s a guaranteed need for us to come together. The future of events is secure, and the pandemic reinforced that we need to attend events and be interconnected with other people,” he affirms. The industry’s resilience and capacity for innovation will be key drivers of its future success.

 

Professional development

One of the cornerstones of MEA’s offerings is its commitment to education and professional development. The organization provides education by the industry for the industry, tailoring its training and development programs to the specific needs and challenges of the events industry. This ensures that professionals receive relevant and practical knowledge directly applicable to their roles.

The Diploma of Event Management is an indication of this commitment, offering a rigorous and industry-recognized qualification that equips graduates with the skills and expertise necessary to excel in their careers.

In addition to formal education, MEA offers various professional development opportunities that cater to a wide range of industry interests and needs. The fortnightly webinar program, for example, delivers diverse content covering topics from legal issues to emotional intelligence. The webinars are designed to provide members with ongoing education and the latest industry insights, keeping them at the forefront of the field.

Beyond webinars, MEA also hosts workshops, seminars, and networking events, fostering a community of continuous learning and professional growth. The initiatives enhance the knowledge and skills of individual members and contribute to the overall advancement of the events industry in Australia.

Community building

Networking and community building are integral parts of MEA’s mission. The annual Evolve conference is a key event that brings together members nationwide. “Evolve is our annual conference, and it moves nationwide each year. This year, it will be in New South Wales. Next year, we are looking for somewhere exciting for our 50th anniversary,” McDonald shares. The conference provides valuable educational content and facilitates networking and the exchange of ideas among industry professionals.

In addition to the annual conference, MEA hosts quarterly social and professional development events in each state and territory. The events provide members regular opportunities to connect, learn, and share their experiences.

Supporting sustainable growth

Sustainability is a key focus for MEA, both in terms of the association’s growth and the growth of its members. “Our mission and strategic platform are to lead, empower, and connect individuals and businesses in the Australasian events community to achieve their goals through sustainable growth,” McDonald outlines. The commitment to sustainability is reflected in MEA’s operations, from educational programs to advocacy efforts.

One way MEA supports sustainable growth is through its advocacy work. By representing the industry’s interests to government bodies and other stakeholders, MEA ensures that the value of events is recognized and supported. “We advocate for the industry and are a voice for our members to different parts of government,” McDonald asserts. Advocacy ensures the industry grows and thrives in a supportive environment.

Innovation and adaptation have always been at the core of the events industry, and MEA is no exception. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the need for innovation, forcing the industry to adapt to new realities. “Our industry was forced to innovate to keep itself alive. And that’s true to form for events people because any event has to be right on the night. So, you must be responsive in the moment and solution-focused,” McDonald reflects.

Looking ahead

As MEA approaches its 50th anniversary, the association is ready for continued growth and success. “We will always act in our members’ interests. And that could be in any part of the industry, in any industry role, in any event,” McDonald concludes. With a rich history, a clear vision for the future, and a commitment to its members, MEA is set to lead the Australasian events community into its next era of success and innovation.

“We are here to educate and upskill, to lead, to empower, to connect, and to ensure sustainable growth.” With such a dedicated and forward-thinking approach, MEA’s future looks exceptionally bright.

AT A GLANCE

Meetings and Events Australia (MEA)

What: An association dedicated to the Australian events industry, providing education, professional development, advocacy, and networking opportunities.

Where: Australia

Website: https://www.meetingsevents.com.au/

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