If work occasionally requires you to break out the business cards, clip on a name tag and drink tea standing, fingers crossed you’re doing it at one of these conference venues. Each is nominated among Australia’s best for the quality of its service, the superiority of its tech, the ease of its location and that indefinable something that makes a delegate feel that anything is possible.
Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre
It’s the Meryl Streep of venues, winning some 160 awards globally, including the coveted AIPC Apex Award 2016 for the highest client rating received by a convention centre. The Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre’s 44 spaces can host 8000 people at five concurrent conferences, while also handling small events at the Grey Street extension. The centre is as green as it gets – recycled water, sensor-mode escalators, waste dehydration – and offers a free conference app using wayfinding technology developed to help world leaders navigate the G20 summit in Brisbane in 2014.
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
There are more orthodox options in Canberra but imagine 80 delegates dining at the Sculpture Garden Restaurant as they take in the mist of Fujiko Nakaya’s Fog Sculpture. While Gandel Hall – all gold leaf and red ironbark, full of light and spilling into gardens – seats just 350 people (267 can attend a seminar in the James O. Fairfax Theatre), clients love the prestige of the National Gallery of Australia, which is hosting Defying Empire: National Indigenous Art Triennial (May 26 to September 10) and Cartier: The Exhibition (March 30 to July 22, 2018).
Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre
This hardy old dame in the city was Australia’s first purpose- built conference centre and, with her 2500-seat auditorium, 19 meeting rooms, six exhibition pavilions and adaptable ballrooms, she ticks all the planner’s boxes. However, in 2016, Tourism Council WA called for the upgrading of the centre, claiming it needs to grow by 60 per cent to compete with other capitals – a clear indication of the increasing business demand for this type of facility.
Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre
Even interstate venues acknowledge how well Melbourne does a conference. Set on the Yarra River, a meander from the CBD, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (pictured at top) has 52 meeting rooms and 30,000 square metres of uninterrupted exhibition space. But most special are its environmental credentials: it was the world’s first centre to be awarded a 6 Star Green Star rating by the Green Building Council of Australia and it achieved Gold EarthCheck Certification in 2016. Also – and you’d expect this from arguably Australia’s culinary capital – the food is rather good.
The newest, most dazzling nominee is this freshly unwrapped palace that soaks up three city blocks with three tiered theatres, 70 meeting rooms, Australia’s biggest ballroom and exhibition space and the largest kitchen in the Southern Hemisphere. Designed to welcome 30,000 people across three facilities, it cost $1.5 billion to build but is giving back by locally sourcing its food, 80 per cent of its wine and even its spotted-gum timber floors.