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Innovative ideas from APAC venues to utilise venue spaces

2020 has been the year of change, the year when people from all walks of life, locally to globally, have banded together to collaborate, share ideas, and listen. As venues endured cancelled or rescheduled events, they were challenged to think outside the box and work on creative strategies to best utilise their venue spaces that would have previously been occupied. Here are some innovative and forward-thinking approaches venues from around Asia-Pacific implemented to reinvent their business model over the past few months.


As events are evolving and transforming into virtual experiences, venues also had to adapt to this requirement. A few months after venues’ doors shut, Melbourne’s Fed Square was one of the fast movers into reimaging how events could still happen from their venue, virtually. They created Virtual Edge, a world-class broadcasting facility which has been used for a variety of event purposes, such as hosting the 2020 Meeting Events Australia (MEA) Evolve: Renovated Conference, by focusing on utilising live streaming until events can come back to in-person.

Fed Square Virtual Edge Boradcast

Fed Square showcases their Virtual Edge broadcasting capabilities during the MEA Evolve: Renovated Conference

ICC Sydney have also made the transformation into hybrid events, creating ICC Sydney Connect, which allows for both on-site and live-streaming virtual attendees, operated by their qualified AV and ICT teams. By expanding their venue offering to hybrid, ICC Sydney has broadened the opportunity for event organisers and corporates to reach attendees from all around the world, not just locally.


Stadiums, which have the capacity of seating 10’s of 1000’s of visitors per sporting event, suddenly came to a standstill. Large fields became empty, seats vacant, and kitchen doors closed. But this didn’t stop them from providing services to the public. Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland provided drive-in movie experiences while cinema doors were closed. The popularity of this drive-in movie experience was so well received, that Mount Smart Stadium keeps offering outdoor cinemas at their stadium when the fields aren’t in use.

Mount Smart Stadium drive-in Theatre

Even cars practice good social distancing, at the make-shift drive-in movie theatre at Mount Smart Stadium

Dunedin Venues’ Forsyth Barr Stadium provided a drive thru order and collection of classic stadium menu items, from meat pies right through to gourmet three course meals. This allowed the public to fulfill their need and desire of a specific catering-cooked meal, while keeping the catering team busy doing what they loved.

Showing their generosity and community support, Marvel Stadium graciously donated their facilities to The Big Umbrella Foundation, a non-government charity organisation. Volunteers have been busy preparing and cooking meals for people who are less fortunate or experiencing homelessness, right from the Marvel Stadium kitchen.


With sufficient floor spaces that can cater for large number of groups to gather, convention centres pivoted their thoughts on how to best utilise their rooms during closure, but also when gatherings, in smaller numbers, could start happening. We saw a number of innovative and creative ideas spark from convention centres throughout the region to not only bring jobs back to the centre, but also to financially inject funds back into the economy and community.

The most recent announcement has come from Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC), who are using their venue space for the filming of an upcoming Hollywood movie, starring Liam Neeson. This idea sprung from an internal hackathon held by MCEC back in August, with the topic around ‘Unconventional Ideas’. Aside from the financial aspect that MCEC is creating for both their venue and the community by increasing job opportunities, they are also giving back to the local community by providing a safe, contained and free-of-charge space for the training of Guide Dogs through Guide Dogs Victoria.

When the filming of the television show Millionaire Hot Seat was put on hold in Victoria due to stage four COVID-19 restrictions, Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre (GCCEC) were able to raise their hand in providing a suitable venue space for Millionaire to continue filming at their centre. Due to GCCEC’s venue size, it was an easy choice for the Millionaire set to be packed up and relocate two States away, with utilising 60 Gold Coast locals to make production on the show possible.

GCCEC Millionaire Hot Seat

Millionaire Hot Seat found the relocation to GCCEC an easy decision due to their substantial venue size


Venues have had ample time to think of different ways of utilising their space and keeping staff employed and busy. Here are some additional initiatives we couldn’t go past:

  • Howard Smith Wharves transformed their large venue space Howards Hall into Felons Barrel Hall, which is now the home to aged beers, wines, a punchy menu and weekly cultural performances, putting a modern Aussie-spin on a German beer hall.
  • Doltone House has taken virtual events one step further, by providing a catering experience like none other – by delivering a conference menu straight to attendees! With approximately 30 different menu items to choose from, this design-a-box offering adds an additional element for virtual attendees.
  • Bankwest Stadium was one of the first in Australia to trial cardboard cut-outs of audience members for NRL games, since seats couldn’t be filled with physical people. The selling of cardboard fans is a way that the stadium was able to make up for some lost revenue, while fans had the opportunity to see themselves on TV, while supporting their team from afar.
Bankwest Stadium cardboard

What creative and innovative ideas have you heard about, or that your venue has implemented? I’d love to hear your story! Don’t hesitate to contact me bec.rose@ungerboeck.com