MEA Award winners announced in virtual awards night

Meetings & Events Australia has announced the winners of the 2020 MEA State & Territory and National Awards in a virtual ceremony broadcast from Scene Change Studios last night.

This was the second time that the state and national awards were concurrently presented and the second year the ceremony was broadcast to a virtual audience across Australia.

“I’d like to acknowledge the effort made by anyone who contributed a submission for consideration, to congratulate those who became worthy finalists, and to celebrate those deemed to ultimately be category winners,” said Peter McDonald, MEA’s CEO.

“They’ve been determined to be the best of the best by their peers. They’ve established new benchmarks for the industry to emulate.”

Ian Stuart, Chair of Judges, said the last 18 months had thrown up immense challenges for the business events sector.

“The whole industry has faced cancellations, confusion and concern about when it will all end,” he said.

“But, resourceful as ever, our sector has responded creatively and with optimism. We’ve learned how to replace and to complement the traditional face to face experience by including hybrid and virtual alternatives. We’ve worked out how to keep our audiences’ attention, how to engage with them and the event’s stakeholders. There is great evidence of this in the 2020 MEA National Awards.”

Destination North Coast won both the state and national award for “Regional Destination Marketing Organisation or Bureau” for a pilot program launched in 2019 designed to attract and secure events into regional NSW.

“In an environment where there haven’t been too many reasons to celebrate in the business events sector at the moment, we are delighted to have received this award as a testimony to the hard work put in by our team, the support we receive from Destination NSW, and most importantly our fabulous stakeholders throughout the North Coast who deliver first class service and unforgettable eventss” said Destination North Coast general manager Michael Thurston.

Fed Square scooped ‘Special Event of the Year’ for its Dining In, Turned Inside Out campaign which saw the Square come to life as a vibrant piazza with outdoor dining, entertainment and engaging activations such as ‘Sky Castle’, created in partnership with ENESS, a sound and light installation featuring colourful inflatable arches dotted around the Square, evocative of a rainbow.

Fed Square was also awarded ‘Event Venue of the Year’ for the way its team converted its premier event venue, The Edge, into a sophisticated virtual offering during lockdown.

“We are pleased to accept these awards that re­ enforce for us that Fed Square’s dedication to innovation, community and collaboration is not going unnoticed,” said Fed Square chief experience officer Suzana Bishop.

“We acted quickly, in a challenging time, to re-imagine Fed Square’s offering to strengthen the local arts, hospitality and event industries and provide enriching experiences for people at home.”

At a state level, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC) won Event Venue 1500+. Additionally, MCEC manager event operations Chantal Trimboli was named the Victorian state and national overall winner of the MEA Operations Persons of the Year award and MCEC Retail Operations Manager Amrita Dip was named the Victorian state winner in the Future Leader of the Year award category.

“2020 was the year of being courageous, thinking outside the box and giving things a go,” Trimboli said. “A huge thank you to the MCEC executive team for the nomination and continued support.”

Novatech Creative Event Technology won both the state (South Australia) and the national award in the Audio-Visual Services category.

“We could’ve never imagined our 19th year in business would face such challenges but, with the support of our staff and clients, we pushed through to once again stage live events albeit under very different conditions,” said Novatech managing director Leko Novakovic.

“It definitely has meant a change in how we approach events & there are many large challenges facing our industry currently, but we are determined to continue to fight for the industry’s survival and re-emergence of the live events sector.”

Arinex joined MEA’s Hall of Fame for the third time and was named PCO of the Year for the ninth consecutive year.

“If Covid-19 has taught us anything, it is to remind us of the need to be flexible, innovative and responsive and we have all demonstrated these values tonight,” said Arinex CEO Nicole Walker.

“I’m immensely proud of our industry, but on a more personal level, I’m proud of our Arinex Team who have shown what real perseverance and optimism looks like.”

The full list of National Winners is below:

Destination Marketing Organisation or Bureau Destination North Coast

Innovation Award Harry the hirer (NSW & VIC)

Audio Visual Services Novatech Creative Event Technology

Banqueting & Catering Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre

Event Marketing Milestone Creative Australia

Event Technology EventsAIR

Exhibition Services Harry the hirer Speakers,

Entertainers and Team Builders SongDivision

Specialist Services and Suppliers Congress Rental Australia

Event Legacy Award Event Legacy Award World of Drones & Robotics Congress 2020, Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre

Event Manager of the Year – Agency Alison Jack – Admire Events

In-House Event Manager of the Year – Association, Corporate or Government Victoria Dillon – La Trobe University

MEA Future Leader Joshua Clark – Formerly ICC Sydney

Operations Person of the Year Chantal Trimboli – Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre

Sales, Marketing or Business Development Person of the Year Christine Kotsis – Harry the hirer

Event Agency Alive Events Agency

Event Management Team – Association ASHM

Conference & Events Event Management Team – Corporate La Trobe University

Professional Conference Organisation Arinex

Event Hotel of the Year Hyatt Regency Sydney

Event Venue – Capacity less than 500 Fed Square

Event Venue – Capacity more than 1,500 Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre

Association Event of the Year The University of Melbourne MD Student Conference 2020, ICMS Australasia

Cause Related Event of the Year NSW Rotary Emergency Services Community Awards (RESCA), Admire Events

Corporate Event of the Year GradsFest2020, La Trobe University

Government Event of the Year Creative Generation – The Show Goes on 2020 TV Broadcast, Department of Education

Major Event or Festival of the Year New Year’s Eve Featuring Tones & I and Sheppard at Darwin Waterfront, Agentur & Darwin Waterfront Corporation

Regional Event of the Year ASBAQ 2020 State Conference, ICMS Australasia

Special Event of the Year Fed Square’s Dining In Turned Inside Out & Sky Castle, Fed Square

Event Company of the Year Harry the hirer

Event Professional of the Year Christine Kotsis – Harry the hirer

Outstanding Contribution Award Kate Smith – WALDRONSMITH Management