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Our CEO's Message

Vanessa Green
ENQUIRE
Cliftons
May 2024
Vanessa Green

Dear Reader,

It's been a huge few months since my last update, with plenty of developments in the meetings and events space to share.

First, I'm thrilled to share that Cliftons has just been placed fourth in the AFR BOSS Best Places to Work awards (Retail, Hospitality & Tourism and Entertainment category) for the second year in a row. As a smaller organisation, we may not always be able to offer the same kind of benefits as larger businesses. Still, we aim to be innovative in what we provide to our employees.

Initiatives like our "Reconnect with Family and Friends" program, which allows employees to work remotely for up to two weeks from interstate or overseas locations, have helped us to retain staff in a tight labour market, with around a dozen employees taking this option since its introduction 18 months ago. We were also recognised for a team building lunch, during which our executive team looked after food service to give our hard-working frontline event delivery staff a chance to relax and be on the receiving end of service for a change. Investing in and ensuring our staff are happy and engaged is essential to delivering remarkable events, as we know the quality of our people is critical to successful event delivery.

Cliftons staff at the best places to work Awards

It's also been a busy time in the events industry space, and I've recently returned from conferences in the United States (New York) and Europe (Verona). It was great to see how busy these places are, with a real buzz in the streets.

My first stop was attending Vinitaly, the world's largest wine show and beverage fair. As part of this, I was on a judging panel to find the best wines of 2024 – a hardship, I know! It was a fantastic opportunity to discover new wines to bring back to our venues and be on top of the latest trends. I also attended Opera Wine, showcasing the year's top 100 Italian wines. The wine space sees a growing consumer preference for lower alcohol wines (and non-alcoholic options), vegan, low sulphate, organic, sustainable and natural wines. There have been considerable improvements in the quality of these wines over the past few years, and we'll be reviewing our venue wine choices with these trends in mind.

I then travelled to the United States to attend the IACC conference, which included the global final of the Copper Skillet competition. Daniel Townsend, head chef at Cliftons Melbourne, represented Asia Pacific. Competition was stiff and the judging was close, but on the day the winner was Chef Ruth Woldegiorgis from Sweden. Congratulations Ruth!

IACC Copper Skillet Competition planning phase

In both the United States and Europe, I noticed growing preferences for whole foods, with a focus on waste reduction, sustainability, and health. Event attendees are showing preferences for smaller and lighter meals, with a broader variety of healthy options. For example, at IACC, guests were noticeably preferring a range of snack options, like a self-serve selection of nuts and fruit, over the traditional bowl of mints and pastries for morning and afternoon tea. Providing guests with choice and the ability to personalise based on preference and dietary requirements will continue to be an emphasis for the Cliftons food and beverage teams.

Of course, I didn't spend all my time eating and drinking. At IACC, there was a volume of content to engage with, like the latest trends and tools in AI, modern workforce trends (like multi-generational teams, flexibility, employee engagement and strategies for increasing women in leadership), diversity and inclusion, and sustainability.

I will be writing more on these topics for the Cliftons blog over the coming months, so please keep an eye out. If there are any topics you have questions about, don't hesitate to contact me.

Yours sincerely,
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Vanessa Green
CEO
Cliftons
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