Karen Bolinger (The Chief Executive Officer, Melbourne Convention Bureau)

Our correspondent recently had the opportunity to interview Karen Bolinger, the Chief Executive Officer of Melbourne Convention Bureau, at AIME, Melbourne in Australia. One of the most dynamic dignitaries out there, Karen talks about the implemented strategies of the Bureau, growing trend of Social Media, importance of face-to-face meetings and much more.

TTW – It hasn’t been long that you joined Melbourne Convention Bureau and within such a short span, you have renovated the bureau is so many ways – One of the most notable changes was its name, can you elaborate the reason behind it?

Karen Bolinger : The world that we compete in and work in understands and recognizes convention bureaus. We don’t do any leisure activities for visitors. We had the name (MCVB) for quite some time. We just wanted to make sure that the target audience we talk to understood and recognize that we are strictly convention business. Hence we changed the name from ‘Melbourne Convention and Visitors Bureau’ (MCVB) to ‘Melbourne Convention Bureau’ (MCB).

It was about bringing some clarity and consistency to the brand and then as this brand has been around for quite some time now and the ‘Visitors’ in the name did not have any significance, so we haven’t move away from it altogether, we just tightened it up and brought some life and reenergized it.


TTW – Melbourne IQ – one of the brilliant strategies from the bureau- Was it your brainchild? Can you elucidate the strategy?

Karen Bolinger : Melbourne IQ is my brainchild. As the world gets much more competitive, as destinations start to build infrastructure and recognize the value of business events, we all are in the game at the end of the day and we should have great facilities such as convention centers and conference hotels and if one does not have that then one must not enter the game in the first place itself. So, most destinations have that but what Melbourne does is a bit different. We have got these wonderful intellectual capacities in the city and that’s about the associations we talk to now need to be taking decisions not just based on the good hotels or great scenic beauty to attracts business travelers from around the globe but it’s really about what else we can do when we are in Melbourne. We have got world leading universities, world class research institutes, great headquarters, world’s biggest corporate players, so why aren’t we telling it to the world?

TTW: Do you think face-to-face meetings still is of great importance in this world of videoconferencing?

Karen Bolinger : I think that the need for face-to-face meetings nowadays is probably more important than ever. I do know that people communicate through different means and much more frequently but you will often find that communication is leading to ‘let’s catch up or let’s meet’. And these kinds of events are the prime example which shows that people do want to come face-to-face and do meetings. So if you want to ink a contract or deal then to see the whole body language is I feel is very necessary and what better than a face-to face meeting.

TTW: How effectively does Melbourne Convention Bureau uses Social Media as a tool of communication?

Karen Bolinger : We are absolutely playing with Social Media. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter etc- we are across all of them! Now the next level is how we continue to be actively engaged there and deliver back to our organizations. It certainly helps us to actively engage with our customers. It is a good thing that we have those tools there and we indeed is doing our best to use them effectively.

TTW: Do you think, today Digital Media has somewhat put the Print Media in the shade?

Karen Bolinger : I think both have their own places. There are people who like to flip through the pages of magazines and brochures and there are people who like to browse them online, I personally use both. But yes I would prefer to browse online as I feel I can quickly take a glimpse of all that is necessary and within a very short time. But of course, both the media have their own places and no one would make the other obsolete.

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