What will customers want from venues in the future?

September 2015

- Mr Peter King - Gone are the days where you simply sell space, give customers the key and wish them well for their event. Now, more than ever, venues need to offer significant value-adds and evolve their business to meet the growing needs of customers.

We’ve heard it many times over, the customer is king. And becoming a truly customer centric organisation is part of Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre’s (MCEC) strategic direction. But it wasn’t until recently, when we took a step back and looked at the journey customers take when doing business with us that we now have a clear picture of how their needs have changed and put the steps in place to make sure our customers are at the heart of everything we do.

Events have moved to a 24/7 operation and to keep ahead of the game and global competition, we need to predict what the customer will want in 10 years and this is where our recent customer journey research comes in. 

The industry-first external research looked at a whole range of event organiser personas and the types of events they host. It showed the interactions and experiences customers have with MCEC each and every step of the event process. 

What do customers want from us as a venue?

We recognise that customer segments have different needs dependent on the type of event they’re organising. The research revealed that our customers want greater flexibility and streamlined business processes, and ultimately delivering them a seamless customer experience at every level.

The research also reiterated the need to focus even more on innovation in what we deliver, from interactive meeting and event spaces, to leading technology and creative food and beverage.

Creating business models that deliver what our customers want, developing new capabilities, and offering value-adds will ensure we can continue to create new business opportunities and events for Melbourne.

The rise of hybrid events and interactive networking spaces

There’s no such thing as a stand-alone event these days. We’re seeing more organisers plan hybrid events, for example planning a conference with an exhibition component.

Where we may have had 1000 people attending plenary sessions and breaking into four rooms with 200 people in each. Now we might have customers requesting 250 spaces with four people in each, and we need to adapt our business for these needs.

We’ve considered this in our expansion design, offering even greater flexibility, including indoor-outdoor spaces, and all integrated with the broader South Wharf precinct.

This demand for flexibility ties in with increased requests for creative and interactive networking spaces too, including bars, furniture and pop-ups, and based on these requests we’ve started to implement these offerings at MCEC in recent years.

Focus on innovation and technology

With the rise of connectivity and technology, face-to-face meetings will remain as important as ever. Although technology has opened up a new world, and is a valuable and important addition, I don’t believe it will be a replacement for physical meetings.

Technology needs to be updated regularly due to it constantly being outdated or replaced by the latest and greatest digital innovation. We’ve recognised how important and will continue to invest in this space now and in the future.

From a customer perspective there is a need for new and engaging event content. Attendees are being swamped with content, so event organisers will need to look at different ways to engage their audiences’ attention pre, during and post event.

Evolving our business and creating new opportunities for events

With the customer in mind and diversifying our offerings to meet their needs from a venue perspective, MCEC is set up to evolve and look at creating new opportunities for bringing events to Melbourne.

Like our venue, which is in an exciting time of change, the Club Melbourne Ambassador program in its 10th anniversary year is at an exciting stage. We’ll be broadening our Ambassador program to align more closely with government pillars, and working with you to build even stronger networks to bring more international conferences to Melbourne.

We’ve looked at what the customer wants, and teamed with a world-leading venue and the help of our Ambassadors and partners; we can successfully attract and deliver major business for Melbourne into the future. Here’s to the next 10 years.