BestCities Creates Connections with Purpose at 2024 Global Forum in Melbourne, Announces Host Destination for 2025 

Annual meetings industry event anchored by educational program, sustainable focus

Global Forum participants enjoying a welcome reception at the Lume, digital art gallery in Melbourne Australia

BestCities Global Alliance welcomed international association representatives, trade media, industry thought leaders, and representatives from 13 BestCities destinations to its annual Global Forum, which took place January 18-21 in Melbourne, Australia with the support of Melbourne Convention Bureau (MCB). 

BestCities’ flagship event featured a strong education program with speakers including:

  • Mark McCrindle, social researcher and futurist, who discussed five demographic trends transforming associations today; 
  • Belinda Moore, consultant on association strategy and membership, who leveraged new research to demonstrate how associations can advance their purpose and provide value to members; 
  • Mike van der Vijver, co-founder of, who discussed the added value of well-designed programs for meetings and events;
  • Olena Lima, digital marketing expert, who shared how digital trends such as AI tools can benefit professional associations; and
  • Natalie Simmons, global business consultant, who hosted a team building activity aligned to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Across the four-day program, the intersection between major and business events was on show, with conference attendees experiencing many of the venues Melbourne is renowned for: the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, one of the largest event spaces in the southern hemisphere; Cargo Hall by Showtime Event Group, a reimagined former docking shed with a nod to its maritime past; and the recent AUD$225-million redeveloped Marvel Stadium

Social programs included a tour of THE LUME Melbourne digital art gallery; a progressive dinner starting at rooftop bar Madame Brussels; and a reception at the Langham Melbourne, followed by a boat ride to the Australian Open for evening matches at Melbourne & Olympic Parks’ Rod Laver Arena.  

Sustainability remained a central focus of the Global Forum. BestCities partnered with Trees4Events, a sustainability tool that supports climate-positive meetings and events, to calculate and offset 149 tonnes of carbon emissions generated by flights, transportation, catering, venues and other conference elements. Projects to offset the Global Forum’s emissions included UN carbon credits investing in renewable energy as well as planting 967 trees. Conference delegates also helped to raise USD$2,500 (AUD3,800) for OzHarvest, Australia’s leading food rescue organisation, through Engage for Good, a program that incentivises delegate engagement for a worthy cause.

“As strategic partners, the BestCities community is deeply invested in each destination’s success,” said Loren Christie, managing director, BestCities Global Alliance. “Our Alliance offers unparalleled support in sustainability, legacy and impact, ensuring events achieve success while leaving a positive mark. Together with our partners, we help associations streamline the planning process, access relevant resources, and gain essential educational insights.”  

“The curated program at Global Forum Melbourne was designed to facilitate peer-to-peer connections between associations and engagement with convention bureaux to establish enduring strategic partnerships beyond mere transactions,” said Julia Swanson, MCB Chief Executive. “Our ambition is to cultivate a community where mutual learning drives the success of business events. The Global Forum was a terrific opportunity to also showcase how our city’s exciting events calendar, state-of-the-art infrastructure and world-class supply chain can enhance conference and meeting offerings.”

The next BestCities Global Forum will take place in Dublin in January 2025. Further details, including dates and programming, will be announced in the coming months. For more information about BestCities, visit