MCB faces anxious wait on new operating model


THE Melbourne Convention Bureau (MCB) will join forces with the state’s tourism body Visit Victoria later this year, but just what that new business model looks like remains a mystery.

Speaking at AIME 2016 in Melbourne on Monday, MCB’s CEO Karen Bolinger said they were “well down the track in negotiations as to what stays and what goes”.

Last August, the Victorian Minister for Tourism and Major Events John Eren announced a “once-in-a-generation shake-up” of the tourism and major events sector, creating a new entity, Visit Victoria, to bring Tourism Victoria, the Victorian Major Events Company and “a new conventions division” under the one umbrella. The announcement stated: “Bringing the key entities together will end inefficiencies and duplication”.

“We’re in discussions with Visit Victoria as to how MCB will sit within that portfolio,” said Bolinger. “It’s certainly recognised that we are a key component.”

“They see us as an incredibly strong operating model. They’d like to mirror Visit Victoria on our model because we do so well and we have that commercial approach to doing business.”

But the merger isn’t so simple, explained Bolinger: “We are a membership-based organisation so anything we do needs to go to members for a vote. They will be voting on whether that is the right offer for them and whether they would like to take that forward,” adding that voting was likely to take place by the beginning of April and the current sentiment amongst members was “neutral”.

“We’ll hopefully have a good case, but if it isn’t strong enough there is a risk it may not get voted through,” she said.

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