Industry Leaders Forum: Lauren Micallef, Oceania Manager, ISSA

A major highlight for the year was the ISSA Cleaning & Hygiene Expo, which returned to Melbourne for the first time since 2019.

How was 2023 for ISSA Oceania? What were the highlights?

A major highlight for the year was the ISSA Cleaning & Hygiene Expo, which returned to Melbourne for the first time since 2019.

In 2023, the expo saw a 33 per cent increase in show floor space and hit a record number of 100 stands. Many exhibitors took up bigger and grander spaces, along with a 16 per cent growth in exhibitor numbers.

However, what is also exciting to see is the traction the event is making from an international perspective. It is really becoming a key show on the global map. There has been increased support locally, in addition to a rise in our international exhibitors and attendees. In 2023, we had visitors from more than 22 countries.

What the show presents is the unique opportunity for the entire cleaning community to come together in one location to share industry innovation and insight. However, what the growth of the ISSA Cleaning & Hygiene Expo really highlights is the increased significance of the industry and the value it is gaining from the broader market.

This year, the ISSA Cleaning & Hygiene Expo will return to the ICC in Sydney on the 11 – 12 September 2024. The show floor space will again increase in size to cater for growing and ongoing demand. Already we have seen a significant number of companies booking their key spots on the show floor and getting in fast to secure sponsorship opportunity.

In 2023, innovation also took centre stage with the INCLEAN EXCELLENCE Awards.

It has been great to see the growth in the awards and it really highlights the changes taking place in the market, as well the developments the industry is making. We had more than 60 submissions across six categories which included equipment (small), equipment (large), paper and dispensing, cleaning agents, janitorial as well as service and technology.

A big thanks must also be given to our judges John Taylor, Geoff Thorpe, and Claire Hibbit who dedicated significant time in reviewing, analysing, and judging the product submissions. In 2024, we will be broadening the categories and look forward to launching them to the market.

2023 also marked a significant year for ISSA with the association celebrating its 100-year anniversary. We had our centennial celebration at the Sealife Melbourne Aquarium, alongside the ISSA Cleaning & Hygiene Expo. It was an opportunity for us thank our members for their continual support. Many of whom are also major industry supporters that get behind the trade publication INCLEAN and contribute towards thought leadership and advertising as well as support the ISSA Cleaning & Hygiene Expo in many different forms.

What are ISSA Oceania’s main priorities for 2024?

‘Cleaning for Health’ training was a focus for ISSA in 2023. The Oceania region released a series of workshops to the market focusing on a science-based approach to cleaning.

This education will continue in 2024. ISSA’s goal is to ensure essential cleaning professionals have access to and can complete training on the knowledge, skills and abilities that are crucial to ensure a safe and healthy work environment.

Validating cleanliness will be a key message in our ongoing education. We should not lose the traction and focus that the cleaning industry has gained in the past few years in being viewed as a key component of the health and hygiene in the built environment.

Education will also be of importance at the ISSA Cleaning & Hygiene Expo as we strive to bring the latest industry trends and topics to the market aided by the insight of key thought leaders from across the entire industry.

Another key element for the show will be continuing to grow increased local awareness as well as international awareness. The aim, which is on track is for the ISSA Cleaning & Hygiene Expo to be known as a leading event across the Oceania region.

2024 will also commence an exciting transition for the industry publication, INCLEAN. In 2024 the INCLEAN and INCLEAN NZ publications will merge into one INCLEAN publication.

The INCLEAN brand has been a leading source of trade information for more than 35 years, bringing the market timely news and expert analysis so companies can run their business effectively, across print, digital, and social.

The merging of the two publications will mean that resources can be optimised to deliver more content, time, and investment into one publication as we strive to bring even more in-depth local and international information to the forefront.

Moving forward we seek to review and improve our digital offerings as we address sustainability concerns and progress with media industry trends.

Our aim is to drive the publication to foster a sense of community. We want to connect cleaning contractors, facility managers, suppliers and product developers with content that connects on devices, channels and mediums utilised by the market. We understand that this will be an evolving process and are excited about the journey moving forward and the opportunities we will be able to present.

From a membership perspective we will continue to ensure that the local market receives the latest updates on local business and industry related topics as well as the relevant tools to help them engage in conversations around the value of clean.

What do you expect to be the big trends and challenges of 2024?

2024 will be a balancing act across the entire market, as the industry focuses on simultaneous challenges including labour issues, staff shortages, increased cleaning requirements, technological advancements, and a focus around ESG initiatives. As a result, higher level conversations with clients will be important when it comes to assessing the value of cleaning.

Facilities and contract cleaners have experienced mounting pressures and concerns surrounding health and hygiene, they have also had to adjust to the different flows of volume within buildings which have impacted cleaning schedules. Simultaneously they are needing to improve labour sustainability, manage staff shortages while keeping costs down. As a result, technology and automation will continue to be a focal point moving into 2024 and beyond. Companies will investigate ways to manage these increasing demands and improve efficiency and effectiveness.

AI and data security will also continue to be an area of increased relevance moving forward, especially as we have been seeing a bigger focus across mainstream media.

ESG and sustainability will be a key topic throughout 2024. Companies should continue to work on internal proposals to ensure they are reviewing their environmental, social and governance data in attempt to not fall behind.

Businesses will need to ensure transparency when it comes to sustainability claims with strict regulations putting the pressure on cleaning companies to avoid greenwashing.

The reality is that customers are becoming more environmentally and socially conscious, and they want to ensure they are doing business with entities that share similar values and can help them to meet their own objectives.

The market will also see a greater emphasis nationally on labour practices and compliance in the coming year and beyond.

Staff development and growth will need to be top of mind, as companies seek to support and maintain their existing employees. Training programs will be a vital element as they are a key way to address staffing issues. Supporting staff, will be crucial to success, as will be the ability to examine different ways to take products to market.

In addition, we see company certification becoming a large focus for 2024 and beyond as companies seek ways to highlight their professionalism and differentiate themselves in the market.

What’s the biggest challenge facing leaders in the cleaning industry?

A key focus for thought leaders will be managing the trends and demands of the broader market, while balancing internal requirements and cost pressures. While these are constant challenge,

I foresee it continuing to be a focal point in 2024. Companies moving forward will need to embrace an ‘innovative mindset’.

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