BCEC Brief January 2024

As we embark on a brand new year at BCEC, we are preparing for a busy, exciting and rewarding 12 months, with a packed calendar of events, supported by strong forward bookings into the future.

2023 delivered the best results in our 30-year history. BCEC celebrated a record 2022-23 year despite the ongoing challenges in the industry. This is a shared success, and we take this opportunity to thank our partner clients for their collaboration and support.

What a year it was! Our team delivered more than 900 events and welcomed 800,000 patrons and guests through the doors – a shout out here for our talented and tireless BCEC Team for their role in this outstanding achievement.

The last quarter saw a bumper October and November, with November, the busiest month of the year hosting 124 events, with our kitchen crew preparing and serving 22,787 plated meals in a single week.

In 2023, the Centre welcomed a strong line-up of major international conferences. 2024 has followed suit with 25 international conferences on the calendar showcasing our science and research strengths, bringing leading experts in the fields of medicine, science, health care, engineering and AI to Brisbane.

Our very own Convention Advocates continue to champion our city and our science and research smarts, and we were grateful to have the chance to celebrate and acknowledge their outstanding contribution to Brisbane and Queensland at the annual BCEC Advocates Gala Dinner in December.

As we navigate a busy 2024, we are moving into an exciting era of growth and change. As a key Olympic venue and stakeholder leading into the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games, we need to ensure the Centre maximises the opportunities of Brisbane’s positioning as an Olympic host city.

As part of our growth strategy leading to 2032, we have made some changes with our Executive Leadership Team which are detailed in the newsletter below.

Sustainability remains an imperative for us, with our journey to embed the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals into our business strategy, starting with the appointment this month of an experienced professional in this space, who comes to us from Griffith University.

Intrinsic to our pathway forward is ongoing consultation with our clients to determine their future needs and expectations and to this end, we commissioned an independent survey with strategic communications organisation Rowland.

And last but certainly not least – we are delighted to introduce Jody Rallah, a Yuggera, Biri Gubba, and Warangu artist who has created a very special artwork for BCEC’s first Reconciliation Action Plan.

Members of BCEC’s Convention Advocates Partnership gathered in the Centre’s Boulevard Room in December to mark the 13th anniversary of the highly successful strategic collaboration with Queensland’s top scientists, innovators and business leaders.

It was an extraordinary gathering where the power of conferences and Business Events was celebrated.

Attendees included both current Advocates, among whom are internationally renowned scientists, involved with world changing research and first ever human vaccine trials, and our Alumni Advocates, many of whom are founding members of the Partnership.

It is a collaboration critical to attracting key sector international conventions to Brisbane enabling the sharing of knowledge and expertise that could ultimately change lives.

To date, this extraordinary group of currently 80 Advocates and 14 Alumni have delivered 153 conferences to Brisbane and BCEC with an economic impact of $208.3M to the Queensland economy.

Our very special guests were entertained by the incredibly talented Thelma Plum and dined on a specially curated menu from the Executive Chef, Matthew Arnold and his team, featuring local produce including Queensland’s famous seafood with local native flavours throughout the menu.

Brisbane artist, Jody Rallah, a Yuggera, Biri Gubba and Warangu person has created a very special artwork for the Centre’s first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).

Jody is a graduate of the Contemporary Australian Indigenous Art program (CAIA) at Griffith University’s Queensland College of Art – it is the only degree course for First Nations visual artists in Australia and is located just a short walk from the Convention Centre in the South Bank Precinct.

In the artist’s words, the artwork ‘Ingredients to Wealth 2022 – 23’ depicts cultivated bush foods and medicines originally found along the stretch of the Brisbane River where the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre stands today, cascading from a coolamon (traditional vessel) acknowledging the biocultural connection passing from, and through, generations.

We hope the painting, which embodies the Centre’s first RAP, yet to be launched, will serve as the catalyst for conversations with conference organisers, delegates, and visitors to the Centre, about the rich First Nations culture of the land on which BCEC stands.

Ingredients to Wealth 2022 -23’ was unveiled at the Advocates Gala Dinner and will hang in the Centre’s Plaza Link Foyer with an accompanying video, so make sure you stop by when you next visit the Centre.

Global experts from a range of cross disciplinary, key scientific sectors will head to Brisbane as a result of 35 international conventions confirmed for BCEC and Brisbane in the past 18 months.

One such conference will put the spotlight on one the world’s most deadly diseases.

The Lancefield International Symposium on Streptococci and Streptococcal Diseases (LISSSD 2025), will provide a global forum for Queensland’s ground-breaking research, which has led to human vaccine trials for Strep A, responsible for more than 500,000 deaths globally each year.

The successful bid, strongly supported by Australia’s scientific community, was driven by BCEC Advocate, Professor Michael Good AO and Associate Professor Manisha Pandey.

Professor Good, an international leader in immunology of infectious diseases and vaccine research, along with Professor Pandey from Brisbane’s Griffith University Institute for Glycomics, have developed platforms for world-first candidate peptide-based vaccines, currently in clinical trials.

Professor Good believes the world needs a vaccine more than ever. “There has been a five-fold increase in strep cases globally in the last two years and if our vaccine proves effective, we believe it has the ability to stall the pandemic, particularly in remote, overcrowded communities which have a lack of primary treatment and care.”

BCEC has had a succession plan in place for many years which has proven to be highly effective and successful.

BCEC General Manager Kym Guesdon has implemented the next iteration of the Plan which involves promotion and recognition of two longstanding BCEC Executives, Alison Gardiner and Shaun Mitchell. The aim of the promotion is to lay the foundations for future growth as Brisbane and BCEC move towards hosting the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Shaun Mitchell, Director of Events & Customer Services, who as part of the growth strategy, has taken up the role of 2IC to General Manager, Kym Guesdon, takes on additional responsibility for managing and optimising usage of the Centre’s space, business mix and yield.

Many readers will know Alison Gardiner, recognised as a strategic thinker and one of the most experienced Business Events professionals in Australia, who steps into the key role of Director of Sales, Strategy & Partnerships. This role is aimed at escalating the progress of Brisbane’s Business Events sector.   Alison is working closely with BCEC CEO Bob O’Keeffe AM and General Manager Kym Guesdon to create genuine outcomes for business events from the Centre’s journey to 2032.

Kym Guesdon said that utilising the depth of experience, skills and collective knowledge across the leadership team makes absolute sense.

Executive Chef Matthew Arnold and his crew continue their war on food wastage, managing to divert 47 tonnes of food waste from landfill through the Centres food waste diversion streams during the 2023 Financial Year.

One of those diversion streams, is a much-valued partnership with locally based Emmanuel City Mission, a daytime sanctuary providing care and support for the most vulnerable in the area.

Our team of Chefs has been working with Emmanuel City Mission throughout 2023 delivering three tonnes of hot and cold meals and 300 bottles of non-alcoholic drinks to the clients of the Mission who need it most.

Senior Chef de Partie, Wallace Macdonald, who was the original instigator behind the team’s initiative, together with his culinary cohorts spend time joining in the activities at the Mission when time permits.

In the days just prior to Christmas, Executive Chef Matthew Arnold presented Roby and the team at the Mission with a donation of $10,000, to help keep the doors open during the holiday period. The donation came from funds raised as part of the Centre’s participation in the Containers for Change scheme. The Centre uses funds raised from the scheme to contribute to local charities and social enterprise groups, supporting those in need in our community and vital medical research.

BCEC hosted 450 very special guests from the Salvation Army’s many services in Brisbane and surrounding regions, at an Annual Community Christmas Lunch held at the Centre in December.

This was the 13th year the Centre has partnered with The Salvation Army helping to provide some much-needed joy and hope for those doing it tough at Christmas.

The Salvation Army’s Simon Gregory said the event came at a time when half of the city’s population was financially very stressed, with one in seven parents worried they would not be able to provide a meal on Christmas Day for their children.

Team BCEC looks forward to this event at the end of each busy year, with 30 staff volunteers across all operational areas of the Centre pitching in along with the Centre’s long-term suppliers, including 247 Theme, X Factor, Vegie Prep, and Bidfood who also provided gift bags for the children, helping to deliver an experience to remember for the many families attending the event.

BCEC General Manager, Kym Guesdon said the Centre aspires to create a positive impact and make a difference wherever possible. “We are grateful for the opportunity to give back to our community in this way.”

The Salvation Army was in everyone’s thoughts at Christmas, with the Centre’s Olio Café & Bar hosting a special breakfast for popular ABC Brisbane radio hosts Craig Zonca and Loretta Ryan and a regular listener of the show who submitted the winning bid in a competition supporting ABCs end-of-year ‘Gives’ Appeal for the Salvation Army.

The spirit of the season touched many with staff members also taking up the Movember challenge in aid of men’s health. The Centre chipped in to match the money raised as part of the annual ASM Global Month of Giving.


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