By Claire Reilly

SYDNEY, NSW: The Photo Imaging Council of Australia has revealed dates for the 2012 PMA convention in Melbourne, as well as announcing a radical shakeup of the way the event will be run next year.

The convention will be held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre from 25 to 27 May 2012. According to a PICA statement, the announcement comes a week after PICA brokered a deal with PMA to take back control of the exhibition.

“Under the new agreement we have been able to offer PMA the opportunity to continue its educational side of the program, but the show itself will now be steered by the senior members of the larger exhibitors,” said PICA president, Dave Marshall.

“It is a win-win situation for both parties; and that’s why the agreement was reached. It is that simple.”

Under the new arrangements, distributors and manufacturers will be able to control the way their brand is presented at the convention. Exhibits may be used for information sessions, galleries, display of equipment and, most significantly, for retail sales.

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According to the statement from PICA, the “immediate objective is to increase the ROI [return on investment] on the show and make it a more powerful educational medium about products and services.  Ever increasing net trading is making this of particular importance to the major brands.

“All previous restrictions on stand activities will be swept aside.  PICA aims to create special zones for exhibitors where they will have total control of their brand destiny.

“The objective is to create an area where followers and fans of a particular brand can gather, learn, touch and feel – aspects which are particularly necessary in these days of internet-reliant product information sourcing.

“It was felt this step was necessary to ensure that the continuing viability of the show remained feasible.”

While suppliers will have the opportunity to sell their product, Dave Marshall said that individual retailers would not be present at the convention.

“This show is for exhibitors who want to meet and grow their product fan base. We will not be accepting any stand bookings from retailers in any countries,” he said.

The news from PICA comes just weeks after an announcement of the launch of the Photo & Digital Expo in Australia – a convention spearheaded by Edge Exhibition and Events CEO, Graeme Ayerst, and one which has found success in South Africa.

Unlike previous PMA conventions, the Photo & Digital Expo is designed as a retail event for suppliers, with individual camera brands having the opportunity to sell product at the exhibition through dedicated Harvey Norman points of sale. has contacted PICA for further comment.

UPDATE: Paul Curtis, executive director of the Photo Imaging Council of Australia, told that "The changes to the show are the result of discussions that commenced with the PMA two years ago. It’s just a case of Australian distributors wanting more control over how they show and present their products and ensuring that all profits are returned to the industry."