Latest news

  • Why throwing your hat into the ring of hosting international summits can pay huge dividends

    May 30, 2023

    In 2022, the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) recognised an opportunity to bring huge benefits to Victorian businesses and the local economy for many years to come.

    With support from the Melbourne Convention Bureau (MCB), the VCCI successfully bid to host the 2025 World Chambers Congress (WCC) in Melbourne. The WCC is the world’s largest economic forum for chambers and businesses.

    In a nutshell, VCCI Chief Executive Officer Paul Guerra explains their process for bidding and the anticipated opportunities he expects as a result of securing the WCC. He also shares the reasons why local associations in Australia should consider working with the MCB to bring their organisation’s international summits and conventions to Melbourne.

    Image: Victorian Chamber of Commerce & Industry CEO Paul Guerra.

    What are the top reasons the VCCI wanted to bring the World Chambers Congress to Melbourne?

    We love Melbourne. And coming out of COVID, we wanted to signal to the rest of the world that Victoria is very much alive for business. And we wanted to make opportunities for our businesses to connect with the rest of the world.

    We saw the opportunity with the World Chambers Congress, and we took it. And what will happen in September 2025 as a result of the Victorian Chamber being selected to host the congress, is we'll get somewhere around 1,500 to 2,000 business chamber leaders that will descend on Melbourne for a couple of days. And they'll be able to engage with local businesses and work out how we can better partner, how we can better import, how we can better export. So there'll be a wonderful array of opportunities there.

    And, of course, with that many people coming to Melbourne, there'll be opportunities for tourism off the back of that as well. And we fully expect to see these people that will travel from all over the world, to come and experience the best of what not only Melbourne has to offer, but the best of what Victoria has to offer as well.

    What type of support did MCB provide in the bidding process? How did this support benefit VCCI in securing the event?

    Winning these global conferences is not easy. Every city that wants to recover from COVID is now aggressively chasing the different conferences that are on offer. And there are only so many conferences that an individual will go to at any point in time throughout the year. They're very competitive now.

    What MCB was able to do was share their experience in helping us not only craft the response, but then the presentation that went across with that as well.

    There are different nuances there that as general business we probably wouldn't think about, but MCB was able to do that. They were also able to help us in terms of writing those responses in a way that made the presentation resonate off the page. This meant the reader, when they were making their evaluation, got a Melbourne feel, got a Victorian feel, but importantly got confidence that we could deliver this to the best of our ability, and in fact being the best in the world to do that.

    Then we looked at the presentation, and the array of videos that MCB has got is just extraordinary. We were able to pick through the different videos and craft our own video that represented what we wanted for the World Chambers Congress.

    How important is a local host committee in influencing and advocating for an international association to come to your city? 

    We went to Paris to make the presentation and the collaboration between MCB and ourselves to put that together was first rate. MCB Chief Executive Julia Swanson stood with me in Paris as we delivered the presentation to show a really joined approach from not only the Victorian Chamber, not only MCB, but the State of Victoria in its entirety.


    Image of 'Team Melbourne' celebrating World Chambers Congress 2025 win from left to right: Peter King, Minister Dimopoulos, MCB Chief Executive Julia Swanson, John W.H. Denton AO and VCCI CEO Paul Guerra.

    How important is the strength of a local host in facilitating exceptional planning in the lead up to the delivery of the event?

    It's two years out, but already MCB is shoulder to the wheel with us on this one.

    Victoria and Melbourne, as its capital importantly, is a relationship state. It's a relationship town. If you invest in relationships in this town, it can take you to places that you wouldn't be able to go otherwise. And that's the benefit of having local people engage, people that are connected with all the various aspects from the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre through to the hospitality side, and then beyond the conference into the tourism space as well.

    We’re looking after the speaker component from a global sense, but what else will the supporters of the Congress do - the partners that might come with the delegates? Where the delegates may go afterward as well because they're coming from other parts of the world?

    They're coming for the conference, yes, but we want them to experience Melbourne. We want them to experience Victoria after that. We know the importance of the partner program is going to be equal to the importance of the actual World Chambers Congress program as well. You can't do it unless you have local people that understand Melbourne, that understand Victoria.

    As a local host, what positive impacts do you hope to gain from the international congress being held in Melbourne?

    The outcome for the city is going to be putting us up there with cities like Geneva and London and others that have hosted these global chambers congresses.

    As a business outcome, we're clearly after connecting our business community to the rest of the world, and we know that the World Chambers Congress will do that. We want to see two-way connections made, we want to see businesses of the leaders coming here to look at Melbourne and say, actually, we could have our head office here. Or our local Asia Pacific office here. Or from our businesses, how do we get better at exporting and making those connections in a very global sense as well.

    We'll measure the Congress not only by the amount of people that come, and we know that's going to be significant, but what business is going to be done during and then post the Congress. Because we know the reputation of Melbourne and the reputation of Victoria will only be further enhanced by hosting the World Chambers Congress.

    What would you like to share with other local chapters and associations to encourage them to prepare a bid with the Melbourne Convention Bureau?

    Melbourne's a great place to do business. Melbourne's an outstanding place to run a conference as well, and the best part about Melbourne is we have experts that will help you do it.

    The more you engage with MCB, and in fact the earlier you engage with MCB, the better you're going to be served to secure that conference as well. There's expertise across the board, from helping you in writing the bid; to helping you apply to the state for funding, if that may be; to putting presentations together with the collateral they've got; their connections to the various convention centres you might conference in - there's a wealth of knowledge waiting there to support you.

    Your opportunity is to engage. The earlier you engage, the better you're going to be. What I say is, if you're thinking about doing a conference in Melbourne or in Victoria, make MCB your first stop.

    Where to from here?

    It’s easy. Reach out to the Melbourne Convention Bureau and begin the conversation to find out more about what is involved to bid for your association’s future international convention.

    Meanwhile, check out all the free services available via MCB throughout the bidding and hosting process.