Australia: Regional Convention and Exhibition Centres (CECs): What are the elements of success?

Australia has signature capital city convention and exhibition centre (CEC) facilities. However, the demand for such facilities exists in our regional centres too. The key to success starts with the planning.

As well as providing a meeting place, CECs generate significant benefits for a local economy, supporting tourism, hospitality, retail and other businesses.

So how can governments ensure their success?

At one level, a CEC is simply a box.

One part has a stage and some seats to listen to people. Another part has a large open area to exhibit goods and services.

But not all boxes are created equal. Not all boxes succeed.

Where the box is placed, how it is connected, what equipment goes inside it and how it is operated are all relevant considerations.

These four elements are each essential to the success of a CEC.


    The regional CECs' location needs to be capable of attracting a critical mass of people. A regional centre needs to service an existing or emerging catchment area, but also needs to attract visitors.

    A CEC can both exploit existing pull factors of a particular location, as well as contribute to those factors itself.

    A regional CEC planned and developed in consultation with the local community will assist with maximising these different pull factors and sharing the benefits.


    The connection between a regional CEC, the capital city CEC and other regional CECs should be considered. Sometimes, these CECs will be in competition for particular events. Alternatively, these CECs might collaborate with complementary offerings (for example, one event might be hosted across CECs). In both cases, a regional CEC should be able to articulate its differentiating value.

    In order to attract visitors, the CEC needs to be accessible. This includes easy access by major roads or reasonably direct public transport.

    But connection is about more than transport. A successful CEC is integrated into a precinct which includes transport solutions, as well as ready access to accommodation and retail services.

    Indeed, to drive the economics of commissioning and then operating a CEC, aligned commercial development opportunities are valuable. These opportunities may include a hotel development, retail outlets and even a residential component.

    While it may be possible to pursue such commercial developments through different stakeholders and counterparties, it will require careful planning to manage multiple interface risks during construction and operation. Depending on government's appetite for managing such interface risks, there may be advantages to seeking integrated proposals for the development and, potentially, the operation of the entire precinct.

    Ultimately, any commercial development needs to complement and support the CEC and be appropriately integrated into a precinct master plan. In commissioning a CEC, government needs to ensure the harmonious integration of any commercial development and the appropriate allocation of interface risk to the contractor.


    Although the built form of a CEC may be relatively simple, it will require a significant amount of equipment for operation.

    A CEC will require a range of technology, some of which may be sophisticated or at high risk of becoming obsolete. Such technology might include flexible staging and seating as well as audio-visual equipment for amplification, projection, recording and broadcasting. A CEC may also require a range of less sophisticated equipment: desks and chairs, crockery and cutlery.

    To achieve certainty of pricing and manage project costs, sufficient time needs to be allowed to develop and refine equipment specifications, preferably together with the selected developer and operator. From a contractual perspective, government needs to ensure that the mechanisms for procuring such equipment provide sufficient certainty as to specification, quantity and price.

    Sometimes contracts contemplate the purchase of equipment as provisional sum items, which are subject to an allowance but may cost more or less. Ideally, provisional sum items will be limited to those items (such as technology) that cannot be adequately specified at the outset because they might rapidly become obsolete or are genuinely impossible to price (for example, where there is a requirement for a bespoke item).

    To manage any unwelcome surprises, government should undertake a rigorous due diligence of the proposed allowances and ensure that the contract provides it with sufficient discretion to vary its requirements for the provisional sum items.


    There are a variety of models government may consider for delivering a CEC. These could include commissioning a contractor to design and build it, with a government agency or another contractor then operating it. Alternatively, a consortium could be commissioned to finance, design, construct, operate and maintain the CEC under a public private partnership (PPP).

    One benefit of a PPP is that it incentivises the contractor to ensure appropriate design and construction, given they will also be responsible for operation, maintenance and ultimately handing back the facility in a particular condition. A PPP will also provide government with a measure of certainty as to lifecycle costs.

    In structuring the transaction, government will need to consider who is intended to operate the CEC, from generating convention and exhibition ideas, to running the events, to maintenance of the facilities. Government also needs to ensure there is a clear contractual allocation of different responsibilities. It also requires clarity as to which government entity is responsible for contract management of each element.


Because it is difficult to predict the future needs of convention and exhibition organisers and attendees, it is important to provide mechanisms for future-proofing. The planning, design and contractual arrangements for a CEC can be structured to provide flexibility to change the built forms, uses and services of the CEC and surrounding precinct.

The implementation of changes will be easier if there is a pre-agreed set of principles and processes for agreeing, pricing and managing such changes.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Chambers Asia Pacific Awards 2016 Winner – Australia
Client Service Award
Employer of Choice for Gender Equality (WGEA)

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions