The Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (the Centre), Malaysia’s premier purpose-built business events destination, is concluding 2023 on a high note, having hosted 1,724 events over the course of the year. This is the highest number since 2014 and a major bounce back for the venue which hosted just 300 events in 2021, at the height of the pandemic.
In addition to hosting these 1,724 events, the Centre, also welcomed 1,342,295 delegates to the venue throughout 2023. These visitors, both international and Malaysian, helped the Centre generate an estimated RM656 million in economic impact for Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia – well over double the figure generated in 2022. This economic impact is calculated based upon the contributions of these visitors and events to local retailers, F&B outlets, hotels, airlines, and the wider business events supply chain which, in turn, generates significant employment opportunities for Malaysians.
According to John Burke, the Centre’s General Manager, “I am delighted to confirm that in 2023 the Centre achieved one of its best years yet. We set ambitious targets at the start of 2023 yet, through the hard work and tireless efforts of our team, we surpassed these by over 30%. Our achievements in 2023 are a shared success for the entire Malaysian business events supply chain. This result is not just based upon our own hard work and initiatives, but also the contribution of many other partners who make up the business events ecosystem in Malaysia, including the efforts of the Malaysia Exhibition and Conference Bureau (MyCEB).”
Ravindran Sathiamoorthy, the Centre’s Director of Sales, elaborated on the Centre’s 2023 results, “In terms of our 2023 revenues, Conventions contributed 26%, Exhibitions 28% while the Corporate segment (which includes banquets and functions; meetings and events) generated 46%. During 2023 we hosted 29 entertainment events, many featuring international acts – the most we have ever hosted in a single year. Conventions and Exhibitions combined contributed 54% of our revenue, but we aim to increase that to 60% in the future. We are looking forward to a very positive 2024, having already secured 65% of our targeted revenue for the year through advance bookings.
He continued, “We have 47 exhibitions and 32 conventions (26 of which are international) confirmed over the next 12 months and expect to add more over the course of the year. These include some major events that we are looking forward to hosting such as the International Surgical Week 2024; the European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology (ESTRO) meets Asia 2024, the 12th World Federation of Chiropractic Global Education Conference 2024 and the International Union of Architects (UIA) International Forum 2024. This is not just good news for the Centre, but for the entire Malaysian business events supply chain, the Malaysian tourism industry, and the country.”
2023 – A Year of Achievements
In addition to its strong business performance, 2023 saw the Centre achieve success in many other areas. This included its continued commitment to many ESG initiatives. Key among these is the Centre’s ongoing effort to drive sustainable operations in line with the United Nations SDGs and the venue’s own Net Zero Carbon Events (NZCE) pledge. As part of this the Centre aims to support conference organisers and meeting planners in delivering environmentally responsible events – as this is becoming an increasingly important factor when selecting a venue, particularly for international events.
During 2023, this journey encompassed various waste reduction initiatives, extensive recycling programs, food waste minimisation efforts, investment in food composting technologies, development of sustainable sourcing practices, and more.
Specific initiatives included the Centre’s support for the ‘Sustainable September’ initiative (a month-long campaign which incorporated a range of interconnected sustainability and ESG related activities throughout the Kuala Lumpur City Centre precinct), as well as a pioneering subscription to the Green Electricity Tariff (GET) which supplies the Centre with electricity from renewable sources.
In addition, the Centre also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Solar Energy Research Institute (SERI), a research institution established by the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM). This MoU formalised a sustainability partnership to study the venue’s current sustainability initiatives and, based on the outcome of the study, propose new strategies to enhance and accelerate the Centre’s progress towards achieving its net zero goals.
The Centre’s ongoing sustainability efforts were recognised when the Centre won the “Best Managed & Sustainable Property” and “Malaysia’s Outstanding Specialised Development 2023” at The Edge Best Managed & Sustainable Property Awards (BMSPA) 2023. Other awards the venue picked up during 2023 included the “Best Convention and Exhibition Centre” at the TTG Travel Awards, the “Malaysia Partner Experience of the Year – Exhibition Centre” from the Asian Experience Awards and the “Graduate’s Choice of Employer in Hospitality” award from Talentbank.
The Centre’s culinary expertise was also recognised during the prestigious Culinaire Malaysia chefs’ competition, which was hosted at the Centre as part of the 17th edition of the Food & Hotel Malaysia (FHM) exhibition in late September. The Centre’s chefs took the opportunity to demonstrate their skills during the competition and picked up four gold, six silver and six bronze medals as a result. The Centre’s team, competing against Malaysia’s foremost chefs, also emerged champion in the Most Outstanding Chef and Junior Chef categories and claimed the first runner up status in the Chef of the Nation category.
During 2023 the Centre was also highly engaged in promoting Malaysia as the best option for business events in Southeast Asia. In collaboration with MyCEB, Centre team members participated in major international travel and business event trade shows. These included AIME in Melbourne, The Meetings Show in London, IMEX in Frankfurt and Las Vegas, Association of Event Organisers (AEO) Conference, UFI Global Congress, ICCA Congress and IBTM in Barcelona.
John Burke, the Centre’s General Manager was also elected to prestigious UFI Board of Directors for a three-year term. UFI is the global trade association of the world’s tradeshow organisers and exhibition centre operators.
The Centre also successfully hosted the UFI Asia-Pacific Conference 2023 in March with more than 200 professional exhibitions and meeting professionals congregating at the venue for the first face-to-face engagement with their regional and international counterparts for over four years.
“It is important to continue to connect and engage with industry professionals and, when possible, give them a firsthand experience of Malaysian capabilities and hospitality. While 2023 has been a great success for us as a venue there is still a lot to do to position Malaysia as the best business events destination in the region. Malaysia offers fantastic value for money and an English fluency which sets it apart from many of its competitors in the region. It is important that we take leverage these advantages to create more international awareness of Malaysia’s unique benefits.”, John added.
Despite its success in 2023 The Centre is not sitting on its laurels. The past year saw a variety of enhancements and upgrades to the venue and its facilities, with more planned for rollout in 2024.
2023 upgrades included a new look and feel for the Centre’s popular Ten on Call (TOC – small meetings) area. This included new carpets, furniture, and a layout which was designed to bring people together, supporting collaborative work and networking – reflective of changes to working styles and providing convenience similar to that provided by co-working spaces.
Developments for 2024 include, amongst others, the introduction of revamped meeting rooms and interactive meeting control technologies that will facilitate better experiences and events for delegates and organisers, reflective of changing workstyles and meeting trends.
John Burke concluded, “As we celebrate the extraordinary achievements of 2023, we look back with pride on a year that exceeded all expectations and I would like to thank everyone at the Centre who contributed to this achievement, successfully delivering event after event, whilst maintaining our well-earned reputation for flexibility, innovation, professionalism, and hospitality. The resilience and dedication of our team, coupled with the support of our partners and stakeholders, have propelled the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre to new heights. Looking ahead to 2024, we stand on the cusp of another remarkable year, with 65% of our revenue target already secured. Our commitment to excellence, innovation, and creating a venue that brings people together remains unwavering. We are excited about the prospects that lie ahead and the opportunity to continue contributing to the global events landscape.”