Australia’s umbrella association for the business events industry is
facing uncertainty following an announcement of the formation of a new
body by three of its key members.
The Business Events Council of Australia (BECA), formed in 1994, was
created to provide an umbrella structure for the key industry
associations operating in the Australian business events sector. These
were the Association of Australian Convention Bureaux (AACB), the
Australian Convention Centres Group (ACCG), the Exhibition and Event
Association of Australasia (EEAA), Meetings & Events Australia
(MEA), and the Professional Conference Organisers Association. (PCOA).
A major part of BECA’s work was lobbying government on behalf of the
entire industry on the value and importance of the business event sector
to Australia’s economy.
A joint statement by the AACB, the ACCG and the EEAA that they will
form the new Australian Business Events Association (ABEA) claims that
this new association will lead to “a unified business events” industry.
MEA is the longest standing business event association in Australia,
founded in 1975. The PCOA was founded 14 years ago and since then has
developed a strong membership base.
MEA CEO, Peter McDonald, told members last week that MEA had been
party to work and discussions about the new association and its board
had considered the appropriateness of participating in the establishment
of ABEA. He said the new association’s mandate will be contained to
business events whereas MEA has existed to service and support the full
latitude of businesses and individuals who constitute the Australian
“Business events and non-business events both contribute substantially to Australia’s visitor economy,” he said.
Also for the “no” camp is the PCOA. President, Barry Neame, said they
too were involved in discussions about the formation of the new
“We have sought clarity on a number of matters and will review our
decision to engage with or otherwise when appropriate. In the meantime,
it is business as usual for the PCOA,” he said.
“We will continue to represent professional conference organisers and
event management companies in Australia, providing [them] with
information and resources, networking opportunities and professional
“And critically, the association will continue to advocate on behalf
of members to government and other stakeholders to promote the interests
of our industry.”
The planned launch of the ABEA is set for 3 July 2023. To achieve
this, a Project Development Group has been established with directors
from the three lead associations (the AACB, the ACCG and the EEAA).
Peter King is an independent chair of the board. King was the former CEO
of the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre.
Peter King said an industry of Australia’s size, scope and importance
needed one strong and robust association to get traction on the issues
that matter. King is adamant “a consolidated and united association can
commission much-needed research, create policy, train its people, tackle
sustainability, develop career paths, link with international and
domestic trade opportunities and powerfully advocate to government.”
“COVID taught us that we need to get serious about amplifying our
collective voice. We are building a platform through which we can
develop the outcomes and the impact the people and organisations who
deliver approximately 480,000 business events annually need to thrive,
create jobs, and contribute to the economy.”
ABEA will reportedly have membership categories designed to ensure
engagement within the industry is accessible to all, regardless of
business size. The association is currently advertising for a CEO.
Meanwhile, in the past week MEA recently hosted its annual awards
events in three cities with strong attendance and is expecting good
numbers at its annual conference on the Gold Coast in early June.
Also, the PCOA is in the planning stages for its annual conference in Adelaide later this year.