From the moment Vania Bau heard about the Cairns Convention Centre being built she knew she wanted to be a part of it. 25 years later Vania will lead the event team as the Centre re-opens after a major refurbishment. 


As the team at the Cairns Convention Centre packed up the offices in April 2020 and prepared to leave the building ahead of the $176 million expansion, they discovered an old Cairns Post newspaper from November 1995 advertising for a Client Services Manager. Vania landed the coveted role at the Centre and over the last 25 years has delivered over 2,000 events, including over 500 national and international conferences. 


When looking back at the ad Vania comments “From the moment I heard about a Convention Centre being built in Cairns, I wanted to be part of the team from the start and work in an industry where no two days are the same. Never did I think it would lead to a 25-year career in the industry.”


Over the years Vania has delivered a broad range of events, including rounding up 60 bulls and 40 well-mannered cowboys for the Professional Bull Riding (PBR) to the intricacies and security detail of the G20 Finance Minister Meeting.


There have been some interesting challenges along the way “One international artist’s rider list included a new toilet seat and white dressing room. And for an event we lowered four singers ten metres from the ceiling in the middle of a dinner service, thankfully with no hiccups!” Vania laughs.


“One of the most memorable events over the time was the 2014 Australian Tourist Exchange (ATE). It was the first time the event had being held in a regional destination. It was amazing to see the whole of Cairns get behind the event and showcase the great work our industry does and our beautiful region.”  


Vania has enjoyed the team spirit of the Cairns Convention Centre and how they work together to bring clients events to life. The hard work has paid off with the Centre winning the AIPC World’s Best Convention Centre twice. The award is judged on client feedback, giving it strong kudos in the industry.


Vania reflects on the accolade “Anyone who has worked in the events industry knows the hours can be long and there a lot of challenges to overcome. Winning the World’s Best twice makes all the hard yards and going that extra mile for your client worth it. Building a strong relationship with your team, clients and suppliers is the key success.”


As the Centre prepares to open up in May after the refurbishment the expansion continues. Vania is looking forward to getting back into the Centre and doing her day job.


“I can’t wait to host events again and welcome guests back through the doors. The purpose of the centre is bringing people together and I am looking forward to doing that again” Vania said. 


The new expansion is going to provide clients with new spaces to host events and bring a level of excitement to people coming to the centre for the first time and for returning clients. Vania believes the flexibility of the centre will be enticing.


“We will be able to host multiple conferences and events and the new Trinity level with the views over the Trinity Inlet will be spectacular” adds Vania.


Post COVID-19 will also bring new changes with events operating in a safe manner.  Vania has learnt that they will need to be flexible and creative in delivering events in 2021 and beyond but also a heightened awareness of the human element.


Vania commented “We care about our clients and we are extremely passionate about delivering amazing events. Over the past year we have learnt to be more patient and kinder, and I hope this continues.”