MEA recognises new business events association but maintains it’s still the voice of the industry

MEA CEO Peter McDonald.

Meetings & Events Australia (MEA) has spoken out about the Australian Business Events Association (ABEA) offering recognition of the new industry body albeit with a caveat that MEA’s own broader membership makes it “a voice for the complete industry”.

The Australian Business Events Association launched officially last week after the amalgamation of the Association of Australian Convention Bureaux, the Exhibition & Events Association of Australasia and the Australian Convention Centres Group.

There were six industry groups before the pandemic, including MEA and the Professional Conference Organisers Association (PCOA), but it soon became apparent governments will only listen to an industry if it has one voice.

During the pandemic that voice was the Business Events Council of Australia (BECA), which essentially acted as conduit for the other associations lining up behind it.

“As a founding BECA member, MEA has been party to work and discussion from which the premise of ABEA originated,” MEA said in a statement released today.

“The precipice of Board discussion has always been benefit to the collective MEA membership if it were to do so. The new association’s mandate will be contained to business events.

“Our membership traverses those who own/operate/produce/rollout events, are venues at which events are held, or are suppliers to the industry – for business and non-business events.

“It is not unusual for an events business to deliver events of both descriptions. MEA provides a community and one place of belonging across both spaces; one equally for the individuals in the industry workforce and for businesses of any size that constitute it.

“Our members are involved in delivering and enabling conferences, exhibitions, meetings, festivals, community, government, education, entertainment, social, personal, sporting and global events to name just some.

“The Board determined that dissolution of MEA would result in insufficient representation and service of the entire national events industry.”

MEA stated that it “will continue to be a voice for the complete industry”.

“Where common objectives exist that would result in gain for its members, as it has for many years via BECA, MEA will continue to cooperate with and work alongside other industry bodies, including ABEA, to ensure a consistency of message through a united voice in advocacy to government, as well as for research purposes,” MEA said.

While the PCOA has yet to make an official response to the new association it appears that we have gone from six down to three industry voices.

Which one of those will be the one talking to government is the question that still needs to be answered, but it is increasingly likely to be the one with ‘business’ in the title.