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Mice Net : August 2008
mea conference 2008 corporate dollar have to understand how “big business” acts in terms of selecting event services. Unfortunately, Ms Norris didn’t get the number of attendees that should have been there (although this may be a reflection of the large number of venue operators who attended the conference). Around the corner at the same time delegates were hanging from the rafters to hear a presentation on selling by Chris Helder, a keynote speaker sponsored by Ovations International. Attendees described his presentation as well worth it. The presentation by managing director of George P Johnson (Australia) Ltd, Peter Rix, on “the event we had to have – APEC 2007” was well attended and well received, as was the Green Initiatives in Meetings & Events panel discussion. Led by Jeremy Garling, managing director of Great Southern E-vents, attendees learnt plenty about this challenging area, especially from managing director of the Carbon Institute, Rob Cawthorne and Kim McKay of Clean Up Australia fame. At only one hour in length, however, this session could have gone far longer, begging the question whether MEA was trying to fit too much into a too little time frame. Social program highlights People working in the meetings and events industry work hard all- year round, so when the time comes to be a guest of an event and not the organiser they know how to let their hair down. There were plenty of opportunities to do so in Alice Springs beginning with the opening night’s function at the Alice Springs Telegraph Station. Here delegates stepped back in time at the telegraph station, nestled on the banks of the Todd River, just a short distance from the convention centre and the Alice Springs CBD. Those who felt like working up an appetite participated in the sailing race Alice Springs style, with teams joining forces from different states. For the less active a glass of champagne, wine or beer in one hand, and a comfortable spot on the riverbank to watch the races appeared to hit the spot. Afterwards delegates meandered up the narrow incline back to the telegraph station for a stand-up dinner, with a variety of cuisine on offer from surrounding food stations. Club MEA, the so-called after-party party, was held at Crowne Plaza Alice Springs on this first night, and was, as usual at MEA events, well attended. The outback bush bash, as it was called, at Ooraminna Station Homestead, was another conference highlight. First-timers met host Jan Hayes who not only puts on a great event for guests but has an uncanny knack of remembering people from years gone by. This place lends itself to a truly iconic outback experience. Guests make their way from Alice Springs along red dusty roads to who knows where until they arrive at the rustic Ooraminna. Six generations of Hayes’ have been farming this rugged land. The stunning setting for dinner, complete with old farm buildings and surrounded by rocky outcrops, looks equally as inviting when the sun is setting or when it is lit by carefully placed lighting, highlighting the outdoor venue’s best features. The final night’s entertainment was contained in the Alice Springs Convention Centre which was transformed from a conference venue into a banquet space fit for almost 500 kings and queens. The awards ceremony was kept pretty short and sweet, giving those who just couldn’t help themselves another opportunity to shake themselves all about. 12 mice.net