Well, this was bound to happen sooner or later – my first solo work trip. In fact it’s my first solo trip anywhere. Prior to this trip I just couldn’t imagine myself getting on a plane and flying to a destination by myself and spending time with no one else but me. Well this is slightly different, I had meetings to attend but you get the gist of what I mean. I’m not going to lie, it was a tad bit nerve-wrecking – small girl in a big city (not really, I’m just being dramatic). I was on an early morning flight, 7am to be precise and the cab arrived earlier than planned and got me to the airport by 4.30am. Needless to say there wasn’t a soul in the airport. Till today, I hear the jokes that are made about me.
It’s just an hour and a half flight from Sydney to Melbourne, perfect for those weekend getaways where you just want to be in another city for the weekend so there’s a change in your usual routine. Basically this trip, though a work trip, was a chance for events professionals to #uncoverMelbourne. An annual event, AIME, takes place every February, wherein venues and convention bureaus from Australia and beyond (specifically Asia Pacific) gather over a 2-day exhibition to ‘sell’ their cities. People like me, who source venues for regional conferences attend exhibitions like these to generate leads and try and get the conversation started with potential venues and destinations of interest. But seeing as it is held in Melbourne, we can also apply to be a hosted buyer which is an intense two-day program preceding the exhibition. My application to attend as a hosted buyer was successful and hence as part of that we got to check out a whole bunch of venues in Melbourne and attend some pretty fantastic parties.
As I arrived into Melbourne, a representative, escorted our group and directed us to our shuttle that would take us to our respective hotels. I got to stay at The Rendezvous hotel, situated on Flinders Street just moments away from the Flinders Street Station. No it is not a coincidence that I mention a train station. This actually is an iconic landmark in Melbourne. As Adele would say, rumour has it, that Flinders Street Station in Melbourne and CST Station in Mumbai, had the plans mixed up and what was meant to be the station in Mumbai is now the Flinders Street Station in Melbourne and vice versa. Hence they look very similar. But like I said, it’s just a rumour.
Once we checked-in to our hotels, a staff member from the Melbourne Convention Bureau, immediately greeted us at our hotels and took us to the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. We had the lovely Jasmine Lim greet us bright an early at 9am. Once we got to the Convention Centre, we were divided into groups depending on which tour we had selected as part of the hosted buyer program, mine was called unique views. From there on we set out to explore and #uncoverMelbourne. Our first stop was right next door, The Hilton Southwharf. We got a glimpse of some of their room categories, including the Yarra Suite. I can see why it’s called the Suite Life. Let me tell you a secret, promise to keep it between us? We got to check out the rooftop of the hotel. We were meant to have a small gathering but due to bad weather we got to check out the rooftop, admire it and then make our way to the lounge space and grab some refreshments.
From The Hilton, we ventured to the iconic, Melbourne Cricket Ground. It’s a stadium filled with tears, it is a stadium filled with joy. The Black Caps may have lost the World Cup in 2015 in that very stadium, but India did win a lot of games in that stadium. Not only is the MCG a stadium, there’s also the National Sport Museum. From Cricket to the Olympics, there are artifacts and mementos from almost all sports. If you have an offsite function and the group is very much into sports, this venue has got to be on your list. It should also be on your list as a place to check out. What ‘site inspection’ would be complete without any food tasting? We were served some delicious canapés whilst the hosts at the MCG talked his chef up and mentioned his dessert talk. That dessert, oh my lord, was the by far the best dessert I’ve had in my life. THE BEST.
Post all the site inspections, we headed back to our hotel briefly to get changed and head out to the first social function, for hosted buyers exclusively. This was at the Flemington Racecourse. For those who follow the Melbourne Cup, this is the racecourse it all goes down. Enroute to this event, I bumped into someone who was just as lost as me on our first trip to AIME and we became friends #truestory. She’d just arrived into Melbourne before the function and that’s why that was the first time I’d seen her rather than earlier in the day. We were pretty much joined at the hip from then on. Given the exhausting day I’d had, we mingled around at the function but mostly sat down to rest our feet.
Sunday drew to a close and I was finally back at my hotel room ready to retire for the night. It really is a luxury when you sleep on a single bed each night and suddenly you have a queen bed all to yourself and the countless pillows. Ah the joys of being at a hotel. Monday morning and the day began with a breakfast function called, The Charm of the Yarra. Again, another fantastic function put together. We had live music, we had some amazing breakfast that was to die for. The best part about it was the sunshine that appeared during the breakfast, prior to that it was wet and cold.
Following from the breakfast, we had to attend some sessions that was organised. These sessions were a mean to gain an understanding on how the events industry has evolved over time and quite possibly the direction it’s heading. There was also a debate style forum put together. To conclude these sessions, a small show called the “Symphony of Senses” was put together. I have no words to describe how amazing this show was. As the name suggests, it was a symphony that touched upon all of your senses. Sight – there was video accompanied by the symphony. Smell – we had beautiful flowers dressed on each table. Sound – well the symphony of course. Touch – well you did have to hold the dessert menu ;). Taste – we had a at least 6 different desserts that we got on our table. Let’s just put it this way, consuming all of that was a challenge in itself. DIABETUS. Such a fantastic way to end the hosted buyer program.
Monday evening, the Welcome Function was held at Albert Park. What’s the speciality of this venue? Well, Grand Prix, of course! This is where the grand prix tracks are, not that I got driver a McLaren or a Ferrari. A girl can dream right? This function is open to those exhibiting during the two-day show. But this really is where the story ends. These were the fun days. The next two days were full of positive meetings and healthy discussions for future events.
Melbourne, truly is a great city to getaway too. It sucks that I didn’t get a chance to capture the city in video, but hey that’s just another reason for me to go back right They say third time’s a charm. I can’t wait to go back and #uncoverMelbourne even more.
Share your #uncoverMelbourne moments and stories with me, in the comments below!
Until next time,