Meetings March April 2024

Page 1

Conferencing in the Cape Vineyards, Vistas and Ventures

The Future of Events: Innovation, Sustainability, and Engagement

ISSN 1684-9264 MARCH APRIL 2024 • Issue 111 www.theplannerguru.co.za
Industry
Chris
Peninsula All Suite Hotel, Cape Town, Dream Hotels and Resorts
Chris Godenir! Legacy
leadership – Discover how Chris Godenir reshapes hospitality at
Peninsula
Hotel
UNVEILING SUN CITY: BUSINESS AND BEYOND
LEGEND
Godenir General Manager, The
We’re celebrating industry legend
of
The
All-Suite

GROW WITH US

A Variety of Venues. Four Unique Experiences. One Address.

At the Marriott, we believe the perfect event menu transcends mere dining - it becomes a pivotal part of the experience. Our banqueting packages are designed to resonate with the diverse tastes of our clientele as well as the unparalleled skill of our kitchen brigade and service team. Prepare to create unforgettable memories with us.

Discover Our Banqueting Packages:

What sets our banqueting packages apart is our commitment to creating tailored experiences that perfectly match your vision. From lunch box menu (R380.00 per person) to High tea menu (R385.00 per person) each menu can be customised with unique upgrade options, ensuring that your event is as unique as it is memorable.

Each of our menus is a testament to our commitment to quality, tailored to perfection to meet the specific needs of your event while showcasing the versatility and expertise of our culinary team. In crafting the perfect event menu, we begin with our guests as the priority and all menus are tailor made specifically for each occasion. Our true calling is to ensure every dish not only delights but also brings a smile to our guests’ faces.

We’re setting service standards, o ering seamless collaboration and diverse experiences. We o er our clients four unique experience at one address through a centralised booking and dedicated event teams ensuring tailored and detail-oriented planning. Elevate your stay with our Premium Rooms featuring exclusive concierge floors, and power your visit sustainably with our rooftop solar installations.

Join Marriott Bonvoy Events for tailored loyalty benefits for planners to enjoy exclusive rates and rewards. Book an eligible meeting, event or group between 1 March 2024 – 31 August 2024 to take place anytime in the future and earn 3x Marriott Bonvoy points at participating hotels across Europe, Middle East & Africa. Plus receive additional hotel benefits:

Johannesburg Marriott Hotel: African Pride Melrose Arch, Autograph Collection: Protea Fire & Ice! Melrose Arch: 1 x complimentary room for every 1 x complimentary room for every, Enhanced mid-morning OR 40 rooms booked (per night), 25 rooms booked (per night) mid-afternoon break. subject to availability at signing of contract. subject to availability at signing of contract.

Choose Marriott for your next event and indulge in a culinary experience that promises more than just a meal, but a moment that will be cherished forever.

For more information visit:

@JohannesburgMarriottMelroseArch

deals.marriott.com/south-africa/marriottmelrosearchcollection

mhrs.jnbmc.sales@marriott.com

www.marriott.com

@MarriottExecutiveApartmentsJohannesburg @MelroseArchHotel @FireandiceJHBMelroseArch
@africanpridemelrosearchhotel @fireandicema
@mexecjohannesburg @marriottmelrosearch

06 COVER STORY: UNVEILING SUN CITY

Explore Sun City: a premier destination that blends top-tier business facilities with diverse leisure activities, set against South Africa’s breathtaking backdrop.

10 INDUSTRY LEGENDS: CHRIS GODENIR

Explore the vision of Chris Godenir, whose innovative leadership at The Peninsula All-Suite Hotel is defining the future of sustainable and impactful hospitality.

17 #SOUNDBITE

Chef Esteban Busa at Keystone Restaurant marries gourmet dining with wellness, focusing on sustainability and healthconscious choices in a casual yet refined bistro setting.

18 MEETING PLACES: Embracing green spaces

We shine a spotlight on how South Africa is leading the charge in eco-friendly event hosting.

www.theplannerguru.co.za MEETINGS l MARCH/APRIL 2024 • 1 CONTENTS MARCH APRIL 2024 The Planner is growing its footprint – connect with us today! @theplannerguru @theplannerguru @theplannerguru the-planner-guru
The
#VENUESPOTLIGHT 09 R'new at Vaal 23
Riverside Hotel DESTINATIONS 12 Western Cape 14 Discovering the perfect blend of elegance and affordability
FOCUS:
partners for your event 22 SUPPLIERS: The art of event decor and design BEST PRACTICE 24 Embracing AI in 2024 28 Green events Balancing people, planet and profit 30 Revolutionising the MICE industry - a look into the sustainability of South Africa's future 26 INDUSTRY NEWS: Raising the bar: SACIA awards first professional designations at meetings africa 2024 INDUSTRY OPINION 32 Embracing Innovation - The dawn of a new era in African hospitality 34 Leveraging private sector collaboration for growth. 06 10 12 22 TALKING POINTS 37 AAXO 38 AIPC 39 EGF 40 EXSA & SAACI 41 PCO Alliance Network 42 SACIA 43 SITE Africa REGULARS 03 Ed’s letter 04 Tidbits 36 Event Diaries 44 #thelastword 30
20
The ultimate guide to finding the best

Exhibition hospitality

Product launches

Organisational incentives

Conferences

Corporate & private functions

Roadshows

Wellness days

… and much more!

Energise and personalise your events with genuine, brand-centred hospitality from Barmotion. We have the perfect hospitality solution – from coffee bars to pop-up sushi stands – creating those all-important engaging interactions and connections.

MOBILE HOSPITALITY SOLUTIONS
WE ROCK (937 625) | info@barmotion.co.za | www.barmotion.co.za
0861
MAKE YOUR EVENT POP!

Managing Editor Lia Marus (editor@4mal.co.za)

Design Antois-Leigh Nepgen

Contributors Devi Paulsen-Abbott, Sven Bossu, Glenton de Kock, John Arvanitakis, Lee-Ann Alder, Kevan Jones, Melody Barber, Sven Bossu, Tes Proos

Photo credits Wikimedia Commons, Pixabay, Pexels, Supplied

Production Shante Viljoen

Sales Account Manager Vanessa Bisschoff

Advertising

Vanessa Bisschoff

+27 (0)84 805 6752 |vanessa@4mal.co.za

Christine Pretorius

+27 (0)76 665 1886 | sales@4mal.co.za

36 Republic Road, Unit 38 The Palm, Eastleigh, 1609

Tel: +27 (0)72

1684-9264 NOTICE OF RIGHTS Meetings is published bi-monthly by 4Mal Media Management. This publication, its form and contents vest in 4Mal Media Management. All rights reserved. No part of this book, including cover and interior designs, may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser. The authors' views may not necessarily reflect those of the publisher or associated professional bodies. While every precaution has been taken in the preparation and compilation of this publication, the publisher assumes no responsibility for errors, omissions, completeness or accuracy of its contents, or for damages resulting from the use of the information contained herein. While every effort has been taken to ensure that no copyright or copyright issues is/are infringed, 4Mal Media Management, its directors, publisher, officers and employees cannot be held responsible and consequently disclaim any liability for any loss, liability damage, direct or consequential of whatsoever nature and howsoever arising.

MEMBER OF

Pioneering the future of MICE

How sustainability and AI are revolutionising the MICE industry, from green events to the enchanting Western Cape.

In an era where sustainability has become a critical global agenda, the MICE industry stands at a crossroads of opportunity and responsibility. The importance of embedding sustainable practices within our sector cannot be overstated as each event we curate carries the potential to influence, inspire, and instigate real-world change towards a more sustainable future.

In our article entitled “Green eventsBalancing people, planet and profit”, we explore the vital importance of sustainability in the event-planning industry, emphasising how sustainable practices are crucial for balancing the needs of people, the planet, and profit.

EXPLORING THE HEART OF THE WESTERN CAPE’S BREATHTAKING BEAUTY

Nestled at the southern tip of Africa, the Western Cape offers a tapestry of landscapes that captivate the soul and ignite the imagination. From the majestic Table Mountain standing guard over Cape Town to the rolling vineyards of the Winelands, this region is a kaleidoscope of natural wonders. The Western Cape emerges as a premier destination for the MICE industry, offering an impressive array of diverse venues ranging from the cutting-edge Cape Town International Convention Centre to enchanting settings among vineyards and along idyllic beaches, accommodating every event theme and size.

In “Conferencing in the Cape - Vineyards, Vistas and Ventures”, we showcase the Western Cape and Winelands as premier destinations for hosting conferences, emphasising their unique combination of stunning natural beauty, world-class facilities, and unforgettable experiences. It introduces a selection of venues that cater to a range of preferences and needs, from rustic charm amid vineyards to modern amenities with breathtaking views.

AI AND ITS USES IN THE MICE INDUSTRY

In the dynamic world of the MICE industry, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has emerged as a transformative force, redefining how events are planned, executed, and experienced. From personalised attendee experiences to streamlined event management processes, AI technology is unlocking new potential and efficiencies.

In “Embracing AI in 2024 - Pioneering innovations and strategic insights for professional excellence”, we discuss the integration of AI into the business tourism and hospitality sectors, highlighting the transformative impact AI technologies like ChatGPT can have on these industries.

I hope that you enjoy the read and if you have any comments that you’d like to share with me, or would like to submit any articles, please email me on editor@4mal.co.za.

Yours in MICE,

www.theplannerguru.co.za MEETINGS l MARCH/APRIL 2024 • 3
Lia
PUBLISHED BY Publisher Antois-Leigh Nepgen
Directors Belinda Siegruhn, Steve Siegruhn 4Mal Media Management
738 7993 antois-leigh@4mal.co.za Meetings March April 2024 © Copyright 2024. All rights reserved. www.theplannerguru.co.za SUBSCRIPTION R330.00 per annum | enquiries@4mal.co.za ISSN
IN COLLABORATION WITH ED’S LETTER

TIDBITS

EXPANDING STAFF TRAINING CAPACITY TO MEET SURGING DEMAND IN SOUTH AFRICA’S TOURISM SECTOR

As international travel rebounds to levels seen before the pandemic, South Africa stands on the cusp of a significant tourism upsurge, necessitating unparalleled preparedness among hotel and guesthouse staff. Statistics South Africa’s recent release indicates a notable increase in traveller activity, with December 2023 witnessing 3.5 million movements across national borders, a sharp rise from 2.9 million during the same period in 2022.

With global travel dynamics improving, as evidenced by the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s estimation of 1.3 billion international tourist arrivals in 2023, South Africa’s tourism sector anticipates a significant boost. The impending boom places a premium on accommodation providers, from hotels to B&Bs and guesthouses, to elevate the guest experience. This commitment spans the entire

customer journey, from initial engagement to check-out, making staff training crucial to cater to the growing demand and competition.

Michael Hanly, Managing Director of New Leaf Technologies, a pioneer in South African learning solutions, underscores the importance of comprehensive training.

“Tourism businesses require a wide array of training, from customer service excellence, which includes communication, empathy, and problem-solving skills, to cultural sensitivity towards international visitors,” Hanly elaborates. E-learning has emerged as a vital tool for training in the tourism sector. This is because it offers the flexibility and accessibility needed to keep pace with the industry’s demands. Its scalability across multiple locations is particularly beneficial for hotel chains, allowing for a consistent training approach. 4

Leading the charge:

Embracing South Africa’s green transition in your business

In February 2024, South Africa's Finance Minister, Enoch Godongwana, presented a budget deeply rooted in sustainability. This budget earmarked R964 million for electric vehicles (EVs), underscoring the government's dedication to lower emissions and fostering cleaner modes of transport. This pivot towards electric mobility urges corporate South Africa to align with environmentally friendly practices, setting a benchmark in environmental responsibility. The budget serves as a catalyst for companies, urging a shift towards greener operations amid global challenges such as rising oil prices and potential increases in airfares. It calls for

businesses to adjust their travel policies proactively in harmony with the national sustainability agenda, preparing for future emissions-reducing regulations to stay competitive and attractive to eco-aware talents. This transition to sustainability requires a collective effort from both employers and employees to embrace and genuinely contribute to emission-reduction and renewable energy adoption. By proactively adopting green initiatives, businesses not only aid in environmental preservation but also secure a competitive edge in a future where sustainability is a paramount expectation. 4

Charting the course for tomorrow’s business travel with AI

The global business landscape is swiftly changing, particularly in how corporate travel is perceived and executed. Adaptability, innovation and a commitment to sustainability are now leading the charge, shaping a future where business travel aligns with our wider societal goals. The modern business journey transcends traditional in-person meetings, integrating digital tools for efficiency while maintaining the irreplaceable value of real-life interactions that deepen professional bonds.

Technological innovations are revolutionising travel management yet sustainability has become equally crucial. Eco-friendly practices and accommodation, along with efforts to reduce carbon footprints, are becoming standard in travel policies, reflecting a shift towards environmental responsibility. This change in priorities showcases a broader societal shift towards sustainability. 4

4 • MEETINGS l MARCH/APRIL 2024 www.theplannerguru.co.za

NEW BOARD LEADERSHIP AND COMMITTEE CHAIRS FOR THE EVENT GREENING FORUM

The Event Greening Forum (EGF) proudly announces the appointment of new board leadership and committee chairs, signalling a significant stride in its dedication to sustainable event management. With a blend of seasoned expertise and fresh perspectives, these appointments promise to propel the EGF toward greater achievements in event greening.

An Industry Partnership Agreement was announced at Meetings Africa between the Southern African Association for the Conference Industry (SAACI) and the Event Greening Forum (EGF). This strategic alliance involves several representatives from the meetings and events sector who are keen on fostering long-term business relationships, particularly focusing on the sustainability of the meetings and events industry in the region. By collaborating with SAACI’s Association Community and its extensive membership base, those at the forefront of the meetings and events industry will gain comprehensive insights into their working relationships with the EGF. The goal is to facilitate the exchange of information and promote cross-promotion between the two associations. 4 Meetings’

John Arvanitakis, CEO of Chat’r Xperience, assumes the role of Chair, succeeding Morwesi Ramonyai of Borena Energy. Neo Mohlatlole of

Team South Africa at ITB Berlin 2024: Pioneering the future

South Africa showcased its full splendour at the 2024 Internationale Tourismus-Börse (ITB) in Berlin, Germany, which was held from 5-7 March. From warm hospitality to breathtaking landscapes, vibrant township experiences to tranquil nature retreats, and from scenic wine routes to an array of delectable dishes, the country shined in all its glory.

South African Tourism presented a strong presence at the world’s largest travel trade

Seven Colours Communications is appointed as the new Vice Chair, alongside Treasurer Justin Hawes of Scan Display and Secretariat Lynn McLeod.

EGF also welcomes new committee chairs and members, enhancing diversity and expertise within the organisation. Notable additions include Sonja van Rooyen of Specialised Exhibitions, Joey Swart of Take Note Events, Emma Kumalo of Chat’r Xperience, and Angelique Smith of Event Synthesis. 4

show, ITB. Led by Chief Executive Officer Nombulelo Guliwe, the team consisted of 63 exhibitors, including 14 SMMEs offering diverse products. Their goal was to boost international arrivals to South Africa and sustain the sector’s recovery and growth momentum. Guliwe received positive feedback from exhibitors who reported productive meetings and confirmed bookings resulting from interactions at ITB. She emphasised the significance of the trade show in attracting European buyers, considering Europe’s importance as a key market for South Africa. 4

SAACI and EGF forge groundbreaking partnership for sustainable future in South Africa’s meetings and events sector

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Unveiling Sun City: Business and beyond

In the heart of South Africa's vibrant North West Province lies Sun City, a destination that goes beyond conferences, offering spaces of inspiration and excellence.

Here, the fusion of luxury, innovation and natural beauty crafts an unmatched setting for limitless possibilities. Welcome to a world where extraordinary experiences await.

THE EPITOME OF ELEGANCE: SUN CITY CONVENTION CENTRE

Elevate your events to new heights at the Sun City Convention Centre. Awarded five stars by the South African Tourism Council, our premium venues cater to intimate gatherings or grand affairs with ease. With upgraded conference rooms, multiple convention centres and auditoriums, we provide versatility for any occasion. Enjoy access to dining and entertainment options, all within reach. Conference with confidence.

DIVERSE VENUES FOR EVERY OCCASION

Whether you seek an intimate boardroom setting, a grand ballroom for banquets, or a state-of-the-art exhibition space, Sun City’s Convention Centre offers a range of venues to suit every occasion. With four clusters boasting adaptable layouts and cutting-edge facilities, our conference rooms cater to seminars, brainstorming sessions, workshops, and more. These meeting rooms can be hired as a cluster or individually.

UNPARALLELED FACILITIES AND SERVICES

At Sun City, excellence is not just a goal - it's a standard. Our dedicated team of professionals ensures that every aspect of your event is flawlessly executed, from audio-visual equipment to gourmet catering. Experience the convenience of pioneering technology, seamless connectivity and personalised service, all within the luxurious confines of Sun City.

BEYOND CONFERENCING: A WORLD OF EXPLORATION AWAITS

However, Sun City is more than just a venue for business; it’s a soulful playground. Amid the backdrop of breathtaking landscapes and vibrant culture, a plethora of activities call, promising adventure, relaxation and rejuvenation.

THRILLING ADVENTURES AWAIT

Embark on a safari expedition through the nearby Pilanesberg National Park where the majesty of African wildlife unfolds before you. For a refreshing escape from the African heat, dive into the exhilarating waters of the Valley of the Waves, Sun City's iconic water park oasis. Then, for the ultimate adrenaline rush, bask in the glory of Sun City Resort's renowned golf courses, take to the skies with hot air balloon rides, or challenge the rapids with exhilarating water sports.

INDULGE IN LUXURY AND LEISURE

After a day of exploration, unwind at Sun City’s world-class spas and wellness centres where rejuvenating treatments and holistic therapies await. Indulge your senses with exquisite dining experiences, from gourmet cuisine to traditional African fare served in various restaurants and bars scattered throughout the resort.

6 • MEETINGS l MARCH/APRIL 2024 www.theplannerguru.co.za COVER STORY

WHERE EVERY STAY IS UNFORGETTABLE

As the sun sets over the African horizon, retire to the lap of luxury at one of Sun City’s prestigious hotels, each offering its unique blend of elegance, comfort, and hospitality. With four accommodation options including The Palace, Cabanas, Cascades and Sun City Hotel, book your Sun City holiday directly with us for the best rates available.

THE PALACE OF THE LOST CITY: AN OASIS

Step into a realm of enchantment at The Palace of the Lost City where the opulence of an ancient kingdom meets the sophistication of modern luxury. Adorned with intricate mosaics, towering arches, and lush gardens, this iconic hotel is a testament to timeless elegance and grandeur.

LAKEFRONT CHIC: THE CABANAS

Nestled next to Sun City Waterworld Lake, The Cabanas Hotel presents a contemporary haven, ideal for exploring the resort. As dusk descends, the Cabanas Pool Deck calls with chic cocktails and a lively island ambiance set against the backdrop of expansive lawns and open spaces, promising unforgettable evenings under the African sky.

TRANQUIL LUXURY: THE CASCADES

The 5-star Cascades hotel, named for its tranquil waterfalls and serene pools, offers an oasis of calm within Sun City Resort. Close to Sun Central's entertainment hub and the exhilarating Valley of Waves, it's perfectly situated for accessing all the resort's activities. Experience luxury and convenience amid Sun City's vibrant atmosphere.

SUN CITY HOTEL: CONTEMPORARY

COMFORT REDEFINED

For those seeking contemporary comfort and convenience, the Sun City Hotel calls with its sleek design, vibrant atmosphere, and unrivalled proximity to the resort’s myriad of attractions. Whether lounging by the poolside or exploring the bustling entertainment complex, every moment promises excitement and relaxation.

CULINARY DELIGHTS

Indulge your palate with the diverse array of restaurants and bars that awaits you at Sun City. From luxury fine dining to casual family-friendly eateries, fast food outlets, and themed bars, there's something to tantalise every taste bud.

At Sun City, conferencing dining transcends the ordinary blending elegance with exceptional service to cater to all tastes and event sizes. For grand affairs, the gala dinners in venues like the majestic King's Ballroom accommodate up to 1 200 guests, offering a luxurious setting that promises to elevate any corporate event.

In contrast, for those seeking an immersive cultural experience, the boma dinners at Botsalanong Boma provide a captivating open-air environment for up to 800 guests, where traditional African cuisine meets the serene beauty of the outdoors. Additionally, venues like the Letsatsing Boma within the Letsatsing Game Park combine the splendour of nature with gourmet dining for up to 200 guests, ensuring a memorable feast under the stars. Each of these options reflects Sun City’s commitment to versatile and memorable conferencing solutions, where every meal is a testament to our dedication to excellence and innovation in hospitality.

Whether you're craving sumptuous international cuisine, authentic South African dishes, or quick bites on the go, Sun City offers an unparalleled gastronomic experience. Plus, with the convenience of various payment options,

including tapping, swiping, scanning, or using your Leisure Points, dining at Sun City is not only delicious but also hassle free.

Embark on a culinary journey like no other where every meal is a celebration of flavour and diversity.

EXPERIENCE EXCELLENCE AT SUN CITY

Where inspiration knows no bounds, we invite you to transcend the ordinary and embrace the extraordinary. From world-class conferencing facilities to thrilling adventures and luxurious accommodation, every aspect of your experience is crafted to perfection.

Elevate your next gathering, inspire your team, and create memories that will last a lifetime at Sun City, where business meets inspiration in the heart of Africa.

For bookings, contact us at scevents@suninternational.com or call 014 557 4001. 4

www.theplannerguru.co.za MEETINGS l MARCH/APRIL 2024 • 7 #SUNCITY
www.suninternational.com

TOP 10 HIGHLIGHTS AT SUN CITY

Discover Sun City, South Africa's ultimate leisure destination nestled between the Elands River and Pilanesberg, just 140 km northwest of Johannesburg. From the thrilling Valley of Waves and luxurious casinos to the culturally rich Motseng Cultural Village and the majestic Palace of the Lost City, Sun City offers a diverse array of top-tier attractions.

1

Sun City is nestled between the Elands River and the Pilanesberg, close to Rustenburg and about 140 km northwest of Johannesburg. It borders the Pilanesberg National Park, which is a major draw for wildlife enthusiasts.

2

The Valley of Waves at Sun City is a prime feature of the resort and stands out as one of South Africa's most advanced water parks. It is designed to emulate a tropical island, complete with a sandy beach and palm trees, surrounded by a variety of water slides and pools that cater to all ages and thrill levels. Central to the park's appeal is the Roaring Lagoon, a 6 500-square-metre wave pool that generates artificial waves over a metre high, providing the sensation of an ocean experience.

5

Sun City offers a range of accommodation options, from the opulent Palace of the Lost City to other choices like the Cabanas.

3

Sun City is known for its luxurious casinos, which are open throughout the year, providing entertainment with a variety of games and slots.

8

Sun City is equipped to host large-scale events and conferences, featuring a variety of venues including the Superbowl Arena, known for hosting major concerts and pageants.

6

The Motseng Cultural Village within Sun City is indeed a significant attraction that offers visitors a deep dive into the rich tapestry of South African cultural heritage. Officially opened in January 2004, the village is designed to provide a living experience of South Africa’s diverse cultural life. It showcases the customs, traditions, and lifestyles of the eight major tribes in South Africa, offering an educational and immersive experience.

9

Beyond the casinos and water parks, Sun City offers activities like hot air ballooning over the Pilanesberg, Segway tours, and a range of sporting facilities.

4

Sun City is renowned for its world-class golfing facilities. The Gary Player Golf Course is celebrated for hosting the prestigious Nedbank Golf Challenge, one of the highlights of the South African sporting calendar. Known for its length and the challenge it presents, the course sprawls over varied terrain, with each hole offering unique obstacles designed by Player himself. It’s characterised by meticulous landscaping, numerous water features, and strategic bunkering, challenging golfers to use precision and strategic thinking.

7

The adjacent Pilanesberg National Park offers guests at Sun City the opportunity to embark on safaris and see the Big Five in their natural habitat.

10

The Palace of the Lost City, one of the hotels at Sun City, is renowned for its extravagant architecture inspired by the myth of a lost African kingdom. The hotel is famed for its intricate artistry, mosaics, and frescoes as well as the lush surrounding gardens and landscapes which include artificial streams, waterfalls, and tropical forests. This construction not only showcases remarkable creativity and attention to detail but also represents a significant achievement in themed resort design. The Palace of the Lost City is often cited as one of the most beautiful hotels in the world, blending luxury with fantasy and adventure.

8 • MEETINGS l MARCH/APRIL 2024 www.theplannerguru.co.za TOP 10 FACTS scevents@suninternational.com www.suninternational.com/suncity
+27 (0)14 557 1000

Your oasis of tranquillity awaits at R’new at Vaal

Nestled within a serene game farm by the shimmering waters of the Vaal Dam, R’new at Vaal is more than a destination - it's a journey back to nature, luxury, and tranquillity. Boasting a blend of event venues, unique activities, and opulent accommodation, their estate is a sanctuary for those seeking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.

AWORLD APART, JUST A STONE’S THROW AWAY FROM JOHANNESBURG

R’new at Vaal - situated on the peaceful south bay of the Vaal Dam - offers a retreat that feels worlds away from the everyday. 'Renew' is not just their name but their promise. As you enter their gates, you're greeted by expansive landscapes, free-roaming wildlife, and the gentle glint of sunlight on water that invite you to unwind, recharge and reconnect.

MEMORABLE MOMENTS AND BLISSFUL ESCAPES

At R’new, every day is an opportunity to create lasting memories and indulge in new experiences with loved ones. Whether you're seeking relaxation at their spa and wellness centre, introspective walks through their labyrinth, or lively gin tastings at their distillery, they cater to all tastes and desires.

LUXURY LIVING AMID NATURE

Choose from their three distinct villas, each offering a unique ambiance yet united in a commitment to your comfort and pleasure. Every villa is meticulously appointed, ensuring that every aspect of your stay is catered to. Whether you’re there for a momentous occasion, a corporate retreat, or a leisurely getaway, R’new at Vaal promises an experience that blends the best of nature with unparalleled luxury.

OTHER ACTIVITIES ON OFFER AT R’NEW

Discover Sheer Bliss: Elevating Corporate Wellness to Art

Sheer Bliss was established in 2006 and is a proudly South African, Level 4 B-BBEE accredited, woman-led venture. They have carved a niche in delivering unparalleled mobile massage experiences directly to the corporate world.

Embark on a wellness odyssey with Sheer Bliss' signature offerings. The "6 Minute Moment

Massage" is an invigorating escape that promises to recharge and revitalise, while "My Spa to You" transforms familiar office settings into sanctuaries of serenity, offering a bespoke selection of massages and manicures. For those seeking a truly avant-garde experience, the virtual reality massage transcends the conventional, bringing clients away to idyllic locations, all from the comfort of their workspace or event.

Vaal Prive's Luxury Voyages

Set sail for an extraordinary adventure with Vaal Prive's luxury boat cruises on the Vaal Dam, where the blend of exhilarating water sports and serene views promises an unforgettable experience for any occasion. With a fleet that is SAMSA Safety Certified and capable of hosting up to 33 people, these cruises are perfect for anything from a peaceful family outing to lively celebrations. Onboard, you're treated to a suite of amenities including a sound system, full cooking facilities, and even braai on board, ensuring your cruise is as relaxing or as festive as you want. For those planning an extended stay, Vaal Prive doesn't just stop at the water's edge. Dive into comfort with their range of self-catering chalets, from cosy studio set-ups to expansive five-bedroom units, all designed to ensure your stay is as carefree as it is comfortable 4

www.theplannerguru.co.za MEETINGS l MARCH/APRIL 2024 • 9 #VENUESPOTLIGHT
Gin-distilling equipment Virtual reality massage Captain at Vaal Prive

Celebrating CHRIS GODENIR

Discover the driving force behind Chris Godenir, the pioneering General Manager of The Peninsula All-Suite Hotel, whose personal revival fuels a quest for impactful hospitality and an unwavering dedication to a better, more sustainable future.

Chris Godenir: Crafting a Legacy of Innovation at The Peninsula All-Suite Hotel, Cape Town

What propels a man forward each day with unyielding passion? For Chris Godenir, it's the deep-seated desire to make a meaningful difference. A near-death experience at the tender age of 29 transformed his outlook on life. Now, each day dawns as an opportunity to extract the most from life's rich tapestry.

Rising before the sun at 4 am, Chris begins his day in the company of Hudson, his loyal dog, setting the tone with tranquillity and foresight. By 6 am, he's at the hotel, ensuring the seamless transition from night to day. His morning ritual includes a pulse check with his team, fostering a culture of inclusion and forward momentum that is a shift from a leadership of control to one of empowerment.

SUSTAINABILITY AT HEART

Chris's commitment to the environment and community is palpable. With over 19 years at

the Peninsula’s helm, he's cultivated a symbiotic relationship between the hotel, the community, and the wider ecosystem. His leadership style is rooted in vulnerability and compassion, resulting in a collective that warmly welcomes visitors year after year.

It's this ethos that underpins the new vision for The Peninsula All-Suite Hotel, acting as a beacon within the hospitality space. Adopting sustainability and trust, the Peninsula champions community upliftment and environmental stewardship, as evidenced by their ambitious initiatives during the pandemic which secured jobs and supported the local community - a reflection of Chris's ability to lead through crises with creativity and a refusal to succumb to adversity.

PIONEERING CHANGE

Chris’s leadership journey began as the 'Manager of Soul', a pioneer advocating for people and

environmental preservation as keys to corporate growth. His transition to the Peninsula was more than a change of scenery; it was a vow to instil his beliefs into the very fabric of a single establishment, proving that his approach was the path to success.

"With over 19 years at the Peninsula’s helm, he's cultivated a symbiotic relationship between the hotel, the community, and the wider ecosystem"

His conviction and commitment have been central to his nearly two-decade mission at the Peninsula. Whether navigating the challenging tides of the pandemic or infusing the organisation with innovative practices, his candid nature and willingness to adapt have solidified his reputation as a transformative leader. Chris

10 • MEETINGS l MARCH/APRIL 2024 www.theplannerguru.co.za INDUSTRY LEGEND

ABOUT CHRIS GODENIR

Chris has been overseeing all aspects of management at The Peninsula All Suite Hotel since June 2004. Under his leadership, the hotel has been recognised as the RCI Resort of the Year five times, with three of these awards coming in the last eight years. He was named RCI General Manager of the Year in 2005 and received the Contribution to Industry Award from TCG in 2009. At the inaugural Fedhasa awards held in April, he was named Hotel Industry General Manager of the Year

Prior to his current role, Chris was the General Manager of Botley Park, a 4-star Golf Resort outside Southampton, UK, from March 2000 to December 2000. He also managed Brownsover Hall, a boutique 4-star hotel (Historic Gothic Mansion) in Warwickshire, UK, from March 1997 to March 2000. Chris is a Certified Hotel Administrator (CHA) from the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLA), having completed his certification in 2012. He attended St Andrews College in Grahamstown from 1972 to 1977.

Throughout his career, Chris' family has been a steadfast pillar of strength, empowering him to achieve whatever he set his mind to.

dedication to his team, or 'tribe' as he fondly refers to them, has fostered an environment that not only survived the pandemic but emerged stronger, turning a period of global uncertainty into a testament to innovation and resilience.

INSPIRATION AND INFLUENCE

Not one to shy away from challenges, Chris embodies the spirit of a futurist, drawing inspiration from thinkers like Simon Sinek and the practical wisdom found in "Unreasonable Hospitality". His leadership is characterised by empowering others, focusing on their strengths, and fostering a transparent, open, and honest communication style.

His illustrious career has been marked by a series of outstanding highlights yet, for Chris, the true measure of success is seen in the growth and achievements of the individuals he has mentored. The freedom to lead with his distinctive flair at The Peninsula has allowed him to cultivate an environment where empowerment reigns supreme.

Chris's approach to unexpected challenges is indicative of his dynamic leadership style. Crisis times are his element, where his 'creative juices flow'. He meets complaints with a vision to convert them into lifelong customer relationships, seizing each as an opportunity for positive transformation.

LOOKING TO THE HORIZON

As we look forward to the future, Chris continues to be an integral part of Dream Hotels & Resorts' leadership, contributing to the 'Art of Creation' business unit and chairing the Thacsa Pension Fund. He remains steadfast in his role, nurturing a vision of sustainable, connected, and memorable experiences for all guests and staff.

His narrative is not just that of a hotel general manager; it's the story of a custodian of a dream, a steward of sustainability, and a beacon for the future of hospitality. His journey continues to inspire, with the Peninsula All-Suites Hotel standing as a testament to the power of leadership driven by genuine care for people and the planet. 4

Chris & Alison his oracle in life

Chris and Kade in their earlier days his inspiration.

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dreamresorts.co.za

CONFERENCING IN THE CAPE

Vineyards, Vistas and Ventures

This region, renowned for its breathtaking landscapes and rich cultural heritage, offers a unique blend of professional service and natural splendour that will ensure your event stands out. Let us guide you through why choosing this exquisite backdrop is the only decision worth making for an event that promises inspiration, relaxation and success.

DIEMERSFONTEIN WINE AND COUNTRY ESTATE

Diemersfontein Wine and Country Estate, set in the heart of the Cape Winelands, offers bespoke conference packages at the Thokozani Conference Centre, blending rustic charm with modern amenities for up to 90 delegates. The estate features 22 en-suite guest rooms, including Thokozani Cottages with kitchenettes, providing privacy and tranquillity. Guests can enjoy the estate's various leisure activities, including wine tasting, dining at Hope Restaurant, and exploring the rich history and beauty of the area. creativity and rejuvenation away from city life.

PENINSULA ALL-SUITE HOTEL

Nestled in the vibrant Sea Point, this location is a haven for guests seeking a blend of city life and serene ocean views, with Lion’s Head and the Atlantic Ocean as its backdrop. The hotel is perfectly positioned for both leisure, with proximity to Clifton and Camps Bay beaches, and business, being close to the CTICC and City Bowl. It boasts exceptional meeting and event facilities, including two versatile rooms and a range of equipment, catering to all event needs. The four-star accommodation offers 110 modern suites with stunning views and ample amenities, ensuring a comfortable stay. Guests can enjoy various dining experiences, which emphasise local cuisine and views.

Hosting your next conference in the Western Cape and Winelands is not just an option; it's the definitive choice for those seeking unparalleled beauty, world-class facilities, and an unforgettable experience.

Le Franschhoek Hotel & Spa

LE FRANSCHHOEK HOTEL & SPA

Nestled on the outskirts of Franschhoek, surrounded by vineyards and mountains, Le Franschhoek offers a tranquil retreat with its Cape Dutch-inspired architecture, manicured gardens, and refined interiors. It features versatile conference spaces with natural lighting, air conditioning, and various seating configurations, alongside catering options from La Pavillion restaurant. Accommodation range from rooms and suites to self-catering villas, complemented by a pool and on-site spa, making it an ideal blend of leisure and business amenities in a picturesque setting.

Peninsula All-Suite Hotel

12 • MEETINGS l MARCH/APRIL 2024 www.theplannerguru.co.za DESTINATIONS

PIEKENIERSKLOOF MOUNTAIN RESORT

Seated on top of Piekenierskloof Pass, the resort offers scenic views of Citrusdal and the Cederberg. It boasts modern conference facilities for up to 120 guests, with customisable rooms and comprehensive equipment. Accommodation includes suites and chalets, complemented by an outdoor pool and exemplary service. Dining at Kloof Restaurant features a diverse menu, enhanced by the bar's selection of local beverages. This destination merges professional amenities with leisure in a breathtaking mountain setting.

AKTV GOUDINI SPA

ATKV Goudini Spa, tucked among the Boland mountains and vineyards, is a popular destination in the Western Cape for holidays, conferences, and tourism. It offers nine spacious venues with luxury comforts and breathtaking views, ideal for corporate events. The resort has recently added Slanghoek Villas, four-star accommodation with panoramic views and a conference facility that doubles as a wedding venue, hosting up to 120 guests. The resort's modern facilities and scenic location make it a leading choice in the province.

AKTV HARTENBOS

ATKV Hartenbos, located along the Garden Route between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, offers budget-friendly ocean-side accommodation and expansive conference facilities. Perfect for inspirational conferences, it is positioned 8 km from Mossel Bay and provides top-notch service and catering. With its convenient location close to George airport, Hartenbos is an ideal venue for business events, meetings, and team-building sessions.

RADISSON BLU, WATERFRONT

The Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront, situated at the Atlantic Ocean's edge near Cape Town's main attractions and the V&A Waterfront, offers 177 rooms with free Wi-Fi, premium rooms with private balconies and spectacular views, and two-bedroom suites for extra luxury. Facilities include Tobago's Restaurant with ocean views, a year-round heated infinity pool, Amani Spa with a wide range of treatments, and the Harbour View Room for events. Additional amenities include 24-hour room service, a gym, and a shuttle service, ensuring a comfortable stay with breathtaking views and convenient access to local sights.

FRANSMANSKRAAL FARM

Fransmanskraal Farm, located on a picturesque estate, offers a comprehensive wedding and event experience at Landtscap, accommodating up to 14 guests on site. With a focus on service, privacy and exclusivity, it provides in-house catering, bespoke beverage services, and dedicated event managers. Landtscap features versatile spaces for various events, ensuring a unique set-up for each occasion. The venue caters to corporate events as well, with flexible layouts for up to 200 guests.

LADY LOCH GUESTHOUSE

Lady Loch Guesthouse in Wellington provides a serene country stay with a range of accommodation including family suites, luxury rooms, and self-catering options, all offering comfort and scenic views. Ideal for events and conferences, it boasts versatile venues complemented by professional services. The estate blends its rich history with modern conveniences, ensuring guests enjoy a memorable stay amidst the beauty of the Western Cape.

RICKETY BRIDGE ESTATE

Rickety Bridge Winery, nestled between Dassenberg Mountain and the Franschhoek River, merges tradition with modernity. The estate offers curated wine tastings at their centre with panoramic vineyard and mountain views. Paulina's Restaurant presents a bistro-style menu with an emphasis on wine pairing, set against the backdrop of the estate's scenic beauty. Accommodation includes luxurious rooms overlooking the Franschhoek Mountains, ensuring a memorable stay. Rickety Bridge also caters to events and conferences, providing a picturesque setting for memorable occasions.

KLEINWATERVAL RIVERSIDE LODGE

Klein Waterval Riverside Lodge, sheltered in the scenic Franschhoek Valley, offers a serene escape with its eight guest suites that feature private terraces with stunning views. It’s an ideal base for exploring the Cape's wine farms and historical villages. The lodge also caters to conferences, providing a peaceful setting with professional facilities. Guests can enjoy a full farmhouse breakfast, an honesty bar by the pool, and the comfort of a cosy lounge with a fireplace. 4

#WESTERNCAPE
Piekenierskloof Mountain Resort ATKV Goudini Spa ATKV Hartenbos Lady Loch Guesthouse Kleinwaterval Riverside Lodge

DISCOVERING THE perfect BLEND OF ELEGANCE AND AFFORDABILITY

In the vast landscape of event locations, South Africa boasts an array of venues that defies the notion that quality comes at a high price. Each destination offers its own brand of luxury, sustainability, and cultural richness without compromising on budget-friendliness.

THE CRADLE BOUTIQUE HOTEL, CRADLE OF HUMANKIND

Located within the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Greater Cradle Nature Reserve, The Cradle Boutique Hotel uniquely marries luxury with the essence of prehistoric heritage. This exceptional destination extends far beyond mere accommodation, offering guests a celebrated dining experience, flexible spaces for hosting both grand weddings and corporate events, and a series of engaging activities that highlights the area's significant historical and natural landscape. Every element of the hotel is thoughtfully designed to provide an immersive journey through the rich tapestry of human evolution and natural beauty, making each stay a memorable exploration of the Cradle of Humankind's wonders.

GARDEN ROUTE GAME LODGE, WESTERN CAPE

Garden Route Game Lodge offers a distinctive safari experience with luxurious lodging, event-hosting facilities for memorable gatherings, a variety of dining options at Serengeti's Restaurant and the Poolside Terrace, providing an immersive ambiance with views of the wild. It's a place where comfort meets the wilderness, designed for those seeking an intimate encounter with South Africa's natural beauty.

SPIER, STELLENBOSCH

Spier, located in Stellenbosch, is a historic wine farm with a commitment to sustainability and ethical farming. It offers a diverse culinary experience with options like farm picnics, meals at Vadas Smokehouse & Bakery, and fine dining at The Manor House. Spier also provides a selection of their farm favourites available online for those wishing to enjoy a taste of Spier at home. Additionally, the farm has venues and packages tailored for year-end functions, combining its scenic beauty with excellent service.

THE BLADES, PRETORIA

The Blades, set along the Roodeplaat Dam in Pretoria, offers an exquisite blend of natural beauty and refined luxury.

It provides elegant accommodation options, comprehensive conference facilities tailored for both small and large groups, and an array of team-building activities designed to enhance corporate unity and morale in a tranquil outdoor setting.

This destination is ideal for those looking to combine business with relaxation in a scenic riverside location.

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The Cradle Boutique Hotel, Cradle of Humankind

PREMIER HOTEL ROODEVALLEI, PRETORIA

Premier Hotel Roodevallei in Gauteng is nestled on the banks of the Pienaar's River, surrounded by a nature reserve and a bird sanctuary. This hotel offers a tranquil retreat with well-appointed accommodations and comprehensive conferencing facilities. It is equipped to host a variety of events, from business meetings to social gatherings, in a scenic setting.

THE TURBINE BOUTIQUE HOTEL AND SPA, KNYSNA

The Turbine Boutique Hotel and Spa on Thesen Island, Knysna, provides unique luxury accommodation in a converted power station. It offers distinctively decorated rooms, world-class dining options, and versatile meeting spaces for events. The hotel is renowned for its innovative design, integrating original machinery with contemporary comfort. Dining experiences range from casual to gourmet, with options for all palates. Meeting facilities are equipped for various corporate functions, set in a memorable location.

CAPE MILNER, CAPE TOWN

The Cape Milner Hotel, situated in Cape Town's trendy Tamboerskloof area, offers sophisticated accommodation, exceptional dining experiences, and comprehensive conferencing

HOW TO MAKE SURE YOU FIND THE RIGHT VENUE FOR YOUR BUDGET

Thoroughly understand your event's requirements and priorities, such as size, location, amenities, and specific needs. Researching and comparing venues based on these criteria, alongside negotiating with venue providers for the best rates and packages, are key steps. Networking with industry peers and leveraging online venue-finding tools can also offer valuable insights and options, helping you to identify venues that offer the best value without compromising on quality or essential services.

facilities. Guests can enjoy modern rooms with stunning views, dine in style at the hotel's restaurants, and utilise versatile meeting spaces for business events. The hotel combines contemporary luxury with convenient access to the city's attractions.

THE VENUE COUNTRY HOTEL, HARTBEESPOORT

The Venue Country Hotel, part of Orion Hotels, is situated in the scenic Hartbeespoort Dam area, offering a peaceful retreat with comfortable accommodation, dining options, and versatile conferencing facilities. Ideal for both leisure and business travellers, it provides a serene environment with beautiful natural surroundings.

BIRCHWOOD HOTEL & OR TAMBO CONFERENCE CENTRE, BOKSBURG

The Birchwood Hotel & OR Tambo Conference Centre, located in Boksburg, Johannesburg, offers a comprehensive hospitality experience with a vast selection of rooms, extensive conferencing facilities capable of hosting a wide range of events, and dedicated areas like the Silverbirch at Birchwood catering to business travellers seeking tranquillity.

This venue is ideal for both large-scale and intimate gatherings, providing modern amenities and services tailored to ensure a memorable stay or event.

FERN HILL HOTEL, MIDLANDS MEANDER, KWAZULU-NATAL

Fern Hill Hotel, located in the Midlands, offers a range of accommodation, from standard rooms to luxury suites. It features The Snooty Fox restaurant, known for its fine dining, and provides comprehensive conferencing facilities for various events. The hotel combines comfort with elegance, catering to both leisure and business guests. 4

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Spier, Stellenbosch The Blades, Pretoria

Barmotion is more than just a Mobile Bar Company. We offer full turnkey hospitality and branding solutions specifically tailored to your requirements. Providing the best results for your below-the-line marketing campaigns that work wonders in boosting your brand’s presence at any event or expo stand. We help you stand out from the crowd with our amazing selection of bars available to choose from!

WHAT WE DO

Client-branded hospitality - we become an extension of your brand

Transform your event into a magnet for engagement with our client-branded hospitality services. We offer mobile bars that not only serve delightful beverages and tasty treats but become an integral part of your brand's presence at any event or exhibition. Imagine your stand bustling with delegates, drawn by the allure of a premium coffee bar, and staying to interact with you as they enjoy their drink? Our services are designed to seamlessly integrate with your brand, making each sip a memorable connection to your message

MOBILE HOSPITALITY SOLUTIONS

Discover unparalleled flexibility with our Mobile Hospitality Solutions, designed to elevate any event, indoor or outdoor. Our bespoke bars, ranging from coffee and ice cream to pancakes, are tailored to fit the theme and style of your event, ensuring a unique experience for every guest. Fully staffed with our professional team, each bar is branded with your logo, transforming it into a vibrant hub of interaction and engagement. Let us bring the essence of your brand to life, creating memorable moments for your attendees.

WHY CHOOSE US

With over 20 years of industry experience, we offer reliable and professional service, utilising industry-leading equipment and high-quality ingredients to provide unique event solutions tailored to each client's needs.

MEETINGS l MARCH/APRIL 2024 www.theplannerguru.co.za BARMOTION
WHO
0861 WE ROCK (937 625) | info@barmotion.co.za | www.barmotion.co.za
WE ARE

WHERE GOURMET MEETS WELLNESS IN EVERY DISH

Chef Esteban Busa, chef de cuisine at Keystone Restaurant, focuses on simple, high-quality ingredients and a commitment to sustainability. His culinary style blends a passion for alternative diets with a health-conscious approach, ensuring a unique dining experience that elevates the Keystone bistro atmosphere.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CURRENT TRENDS IN THE FOOD AND BEVERAGE INDUSTRY?

The biggest trends at the moment are alternative diets and the need to cater to them, a return to the concept of 'less is more', and the inclusion of more health-conscious clients.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR RESTAURANT, KEYSTONE?

Keystone is fundamentally a bistro where the environment promotes casual dining in the décor, atmosphere, and expectations. Where we refine our offering is in the food we serve, the wine we offer, and the service you receive.

WHAT MAKES YOUR RESTAURANT, KEYSTONE, UNIQUE?

The Keystone experience is what makes the restaurant unique. From our signature martini, which is presented by our experienced bartender, to the menu recommendations offered by our chef, to the wine suggestions brought to you by our in-house sommelier, these make you feel special and valued. Also, our food is really good.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE DISH TO MAKE?

Our signature Wagyu fillet is my favourite to prepare and serve.

WHAT IS THE PRIMARY MISTAKE PEOPLE MAKE WHEN CATERING FOR CONFERENCING?

Over filling dishes, rather prepare small quantities and replenish regularly.

HOW CAN YOU PRESENT 'PLAIN' FOOD TO MAKE IT LOOK MORE APPEALING TO DELEGATES?

Plain food is a misnomer in most respects; presentation is all about clean lines and height. With correct preparation, the simplest food can be presented in a five-star manner.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE KITCHEN EQUIPMENT OR GADGET?

My chef’s knife.

WHAT IS ONE INGREDIENT YOU CANNOT COOK WITHOUT?

Garlic.

WHAT IS THE PROUDEST MOMENT IN YOUR CAREER AS A CHEF?

When my family came and ate at the first real restaurant I worked in and enjoyed the food.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE FOODS TO COOK WITH?

The list is endless, really, but for me it’s all about the quality of the ingredient that makes it my favourite.

WHAT DO YOU THINK IS THE MOST CHALLENGING INGREDIENT TO WORK WITH? Eggs and raw artichokes; those two will keep you up at night.

WHO IN THE FOOD WORLD DO YOU MOST ADMIRE?

I’ve had the privilege of working with many talented chefs who have influenced my cuisine, but the two celebrity chefs whom I have great respect for are Chef Raymond Blanc and Chef Marco Pierre White.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE FOOD AND WHY?

French and Italian food. For French food, it’s the elegance and refinement that it has, and for Italian food, it’s the ingredients it uses and the rustic quality of its provincial offerings.

ARE THERE ANY FOODS YOU JUST DON’T LIKE? Seafood, for the most part.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE FOOD MEMORY?

When I made my first perfect hollandaise sauce.

ABOUT CHEF ESTEBAN BUSA

Before joining Keystone, Chef Esteban Busa oversaw the culinary operations at Dulini Private Game Lodge in the Sabi Sand Private Game Reserve. With a career spanning over a decade in various prestigious roles, Esteban has developed a niche in high-end hospitality services, focusing on boutique environments where personalised guest experiences and exceeding expectations are paramount. His skills cover a broad spectrum including dietary restrictions, menu customisation, team management, budgeting, and creating special event cuisines, with a specialty in classical French and Mediterranean as well as post-modern South African cuisine.

Previously, Esteban served as a Senior Sous Chef at The Royal Portfolio's properties, including La Residence and Birkenhead House, where he managed multiple dining venues, catering to private villas and intimate functions. His roles involved everything from menu development to guest interaction, stock management, and maintaining high standards of kitchen hygiene and staff training. Prior to his tenure at The Royal Portfolio, he was a Sous Chef at Prana Lodge, where he tailored menus to guest preferences, ensuring a personalised dining experience.

Esteban's formal culinary training was completed at the Alfresco International Academy of Food and Wine, where he earned a diploma in Culinary Arts. His extensive experience and dedication to creating exceptional dining experiences make him a respected figure in the culinary industry. 4

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EMBRACING GREEN SPACES

The future of eco-friendly events in South Africa

In an era where sustainability becomes increasingly paramount, South Africa emerges as a frontrunner in offering green meeting and event spaces that blend environmental responsibility with unparalleled luxury and innovation.

THE VINEYARD, CAPE TOWN

The Vineyard Hotel in Cape Town offers a tranquil retreat with luxurious accommodation options, including rooms with stunning views of the gardens or Table Mountain. The hotel's dining experience ranges from casual to fine dining across multiple venues, emphasising sustainability and fresh, local ingredients.

For business needs, the Vineyard provides fully equipped, versatile conferencing facilities set in its picturesque gardens, making it an ideal venue for various events. This blend of luxury, culinary excellence, and business amenities, all in a beautiful, eco-conscious setting, encapsulates the essence of The Vineyard Hotel.

HOTEL VERDE, CAPE TOWN

Hotel Verde, located near Cape Town International Airport, brands itself as Africa's greenest hotel, with eco-friendly rooms, a restaurant focusing on sustainable dining, and conference facilities for green events. It combines luxury with environmental responsibility, offering a unique experience for both leisure and business travellers who value sustainability.

GROOTBOS PRIVATE NATURE RESERVE, WESTERN CAPE

Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, nestled between mountain and sea in the Western Cape, offers luxurious accommodation with breathtaking views. Their culinary experience focuses on organic ingredients, complemented by fine wines. Grootbos is ideal for eco-friendly conferences, providing state-of-the-art facilities in a serene environment that inspires creativity and connection with nature.

TWELVE APOSTLES HOTEL AND SPA, CAPE TOWN

The 12 Apostles Hotel and Spa, located along Cape Town's scenic Atlantic seaboard, offers luxurious accommodation, exceptional dining experiences, and versatile event spaces. Renowned for its stunning views and elegant ambiance, the hotel caters to both leisure and business guests, providing gourmet dining options as well as comprehensive meeting and event facilities against the backdrop of Table Mountain National Park.

BUSHMANS KLOOF WILDERNESS

RESERVE & WELLNESS RETREAT, CEDERBERG Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness

Retreat, set in the Cederberg Mountains, offers luxury accommodation, including rooms and private villas, with a focus on gourmet dining and sustainability. The retreat is committed to conservation and provides a serene setting for events.

CAPE TOWN INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION CENTRE (CTICC)

The Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) is a premier destination for hosting a wide range of events, from global conferences to trade shows, in Cape Town. Known for its state-of-the-art facilities and strategic location, the CTICC offers extensive event spaces, cutting-edge technology, and a commitment to sustainability in its operations.

MONT ROCHELLE HOTEL, FRANSCHHOEK

Mont Rochelle is a luxurious hotel and vineyard in Franschhoek offering elegant accommodation in the hotel and Manor House. Guests can enjoy exquisite dining experiences with a focus on local produce and wines. The venue also caters to celebrations, including weddings and private events, set against the backdrop of the stunning landscape.

As South Africa continues to lead with its selection of eco-friendly venues, it becomes clear that sustainable practices can indeed go hand-in-hand with luxury and sophistication. The venues that we’ve mentioned here not only offer breathtaking settings but also embody a commitment to environmental stewardship. Their efforts in hosting green meetings and events pave the way for a future where sustainability is at the forefront of every gathering, setting a global standard for others to follow.

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GREEN GADGETS FOR YOUR NEXT EVENT

Solar-powered chargers: Keep devices powered up sustainably

Solar-powered chargers offer an eco-friendly solution to keep electronic devices charged, utilising the abundant and renewable energy of the sun. These chargers are perfect for outdoor events, reducing reliance on traditional power sources and lowering carbon footprints. They are versatile, portable, and suitable for a wide range of devices, ensuring your gadgets remain powered throughout the day. By adopting solar-powered chargers, you're not only making a sustainable choice but also encouraging a greener lifestyle among attendees, showcasing a commitment to environmental responsibility.

BOOST YOUR EVENT'S ECO-CREDENTIALS WITH PLANTABLE WRISTBANDS AND BADGES

Transform your corporate events into a green haven with unique, plantable wristbands and badges. Crafted from special, seed-infused paper, these innovative accessories don't just vanish after use — they grow! Embed your commitment to sustainability in every attendee's experience by offering them a keepsake that blooms, showcasing your dedication to the planet in a tangible, flourishing way.

BAMBOO FLASH DRIVES: SWAP PLASTIC USBS FOR FLASH DRIVES MADE FROM RENEWABLE BAMBOO

Bamboo flash drives represent a sustainable shift in tech accessories, moving away from plastic to the renewable resource of bamboo. These eco-friendly USBs offer a durable, biodegradable alternative that supports greener living and reduces plastic waste. Perfect for environmentally conscious brands, businesses, and events, they not only store data efficiently but also serve as a statement of commitment to environmental sustainability. This innovative approach combines functionality with eco-responsibility, making bamboo flash drives a smart choice for anyone looking to make their digital storage solutions more sustainable. 4

HOW TO GREENIFY YOUR EVENT

#GREEN
Choose a venue committed to sustainability. 2. Minimise printed materials by using digital apps or websites. 3. Select caterers who use local, organic produce. 4. Encourage the use of public transportation or carpooling for attendees.
Implement a recycling and composting programme during the event. 6. Use reusable or biodegradable tableware and cutlery. 7. Reduce energy consumption with LED lighting and natural light. 8. Offset carbon emissions by investing in renewable energy projects. 9. Promote a zero-waste policy by planning for minimal excess. 10. Educate attendees about the event’s green initiatives and encourage participation.
1.
5.

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO FINDING THE BEST PARTNERS FOR YOUR EVENT

Convention centres, tour operators and DMCs

Convention centres, tour operators and Destination Management Companies (DMCs) are pivotal in the event industry, providing essential infrastructure, local insights, and tailored experiences that are critical for successful events.

UNDERSTANDING YOUR EVENT NEEDS

Clearly defining event objectives is the cornerstone of successful event-planning. Understanding the purpose - whether it's for networking, education or celebrationshapes every decision, from selecting the venue to choosing the right partners. Knowing your audience is equally critical and their preferences and demographics influence the choice of location, the nature of activities, and even the selection of tour operators and DMCs that can deliver personalised experiences.

Additionally, the event's location must resonate with the theme and be accessible to attendees, while the size dictates the scale of services and facilities needed. Budget considerations cannot be overlooked as they set the boundaries within which planners must operate, requiring a careful balance between ambition and affordability.

Finally, unique event requirements - such as technological needs, sustainability practices or cultural elements - demand partners who can accommodate these specifics, making the early stages of planning pivotal in the overall success of the event.

CONVENTION CENTRES

Convention centres serve as the hub for a myriad of events, providing spaces that can be tailored to host everything from large-scale international conferences to intimate gatherings.

They offer extensive facilities, including exhibition halls, meeting rooms, and banquet spaces that are equipped to cater to the logistical and technological needs of any event. The services provided by these centres are designed to streamline the event-planning process, offering in-house catering, event management teams, and technical support. When evaluating a convention centre, organisers should consider the flexibility of the space, the quality of services, accessibility for attendees including proximity to transportation and accommodation options as well as the latest technology for presentations and communication. These factors are crucial in ensuring the venue aligns with the event's objectives and audience expectations.

TOUR OPERATORS

Tour operators play a crucial role in enhancing the event experience, offering attendees unique insights into the local culture, history, and attractions. Through meticulously crafted tours and experiences, they transform a standard event into an unforgettable journey, enriching the overall participant experience. The ability to provide bespoke local experiences tailored to the interests and schedules of attendees is what sets the best in the field apart. Choosing the right tour operator requires careful consideration of their local expertise, the ability to offer customised packages that can cater to a diverse audience, and positive feedback from previous clients, which indicates reliability and quality of service. Operators

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with a deep understanding of the destination's offerings - and who can provide exclusive access or unique activities - offer a competitive edge, making an event memorable.

Globally, innovative tour operators are introducing unique offerings, such as private viewings of historical landmarks, immersive cultural workshops, or eco-friendly explorations that highlight sustainability practices within the destination. These distinctive experiences not only entertain but also educate and inspire attendees, adding substantial value to the overall event.

The collaboration between event organisers and tour operators is pivotal. Effective communication and shared objectives ensure that the tours and activities complement the event's theme and schedule, enhancing the attendee experience.

This partnership is instrumental in creating an integrated, seamless experience that participants will remember long after the event concludes, potentially influencing their decision to attend future events.

DESTINATION MANAGEMENT COMPANIES

DMCs are the unsung heroes behind the seamless execution of events, providing invaluable local expertise and logistical support. They manage the intricacies of event-planning within a specific locale, leveraging their extensive network of vendors and deep knowledge of the destination to ensure every aspect of the event runs smoothly. From transportation and accommodation to unique local experiences, DMCs are equipped to handle it all, making them indispensable partners in the event planning process.

The value added by DMCs extends beyond mere logistics. Their intimate understanding of the local culture, customs, and hidden gems allows them to craft authentic, memorable experiences for attendees. They can recommend and secure venues that offer a true sense of place, suggest local suppliers who provide high-quality services, and design activities that reflect the local heritage and landscapes, thus enriching the overall event experience. When selecting a DMC, look for reliability, evidenced by a track record

of successfully managed events, creativity in proposing innovative and tailored event solutions as well as the ability to offer comprehensive services that cover all your event needs.

The synergy between convention centres, tour operators and DMCs is foundational to the success of any event. These partners provide the essential infrastructure, local insights, and customised experiences that are vital to meet and exceed the expectations of attendees. For event planners, understanding the unique needs of their event - from its objectives and audience demographics to logistical requirements and budgetary constraints - is paramount. Through meticulous planning, thoughtful partner selection, and effective collaboration, event organisers can leverage these partnerships to create experiences that resonate with attendees long after the event has concluded. The importance of choosing partners that align with your event's goals and requirements cannot be overstated, as these relationships are critical in shaping the success of your event and enhancing the overall attendee experience. . 4

NEGOTIATING SUCCESS WITH CONVENTION CENTRES: KEY STRATEGIES

Negotiating with convention centres requires a clear understanding of your event's

specific needs and flexibility. Tips for successful negotiation include being open about your budget constraints, understanding the value of your event to the venue, requesting package deals or discounts for booking multiple days, and inquiring about customisation options to suit your event's requirements better. Building a relationship with the venue can also lead to more favourable terms and a successful event outcome.

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Transforming spaces

THE ROLE OF EVENT DECOR AND DESIGN

Event decor and design are instrumental in sculpting the atmosphere and theme of any gathering, significantly enriching the attendee experience. Through the use of colour, lighting, and thematic elements, designers craft immersive environments that not only reflect the purpose of the event but also evoke emotions and create lasting impressions. Suppliers in this field bring unmatched creativity and innovation, transforming ordinary spaces into extraordinary settings that captivate and enchant. Their expertise lies in their ability to conceptualise and execute designs that harmonise with an event's objectives, ensuring each element contributes to a cohesive and engaging experience. This magic touch of decor and design turns every event into a unique journey for its attendees.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT DECOR AND DESIGN SUPPLIER

When selecting an event decor and design supplier, key considerations include:

• Style compatibility, ensuring the supplier's aesthetic aligns with your vision,

• Portfolio strength, which evidences their capability and experience, and

• Flexibility with budgets, demonstrating their ability to deliver exceptional results across various financial constraints. Equally important is fostering a collaborative relationship between event planners and suppliers. This partnership is key to translating ambitious concepts into tangible realities, enabling a seamless fusion of creativity

THE ART OF EVENT DECOR AND DESIGN

The artistry of decor and design plays a pivotal role in transforming events into unforgettable experiences. We shine a light on the realm of event decor and design, showcasing the creativity and innovation that set the stage for magical moments.

and practicality. A supplier who actively engages in dialogue understands your objectives and contributes innovative ideas that will not only enhance the event's success but also enrich the planning process, ensuring the final outcome resonates with all attendees.

TRENDS IN EVENT DECOR AND DESIGN

The event industry is witnessing a dynamic shift towards sustainable practices, technological integrations, and personalised themes, reflecting broader societal and technological advancements. Sustainable practices, such as eco-friendly materials and waste-reduction strategies, are becoming a staple, underscoring the industry's commitment to environmental responsibility. Technological innovations, including digital installations and virtual reality, are enhancing attendee engagement through immersive experiences. Personalised themes, tailored to specific interests or corporate

identities, ensure that each event resonates deeply with its audience. These trends are adaptable across various event types, from corporate conferences to private celebrations, allowing for unique, memorable, and responsible event experiences that align with modern values and expectations.

The transformative power of event decor and design lies in their ability to convert spaces into realms of imagination and storytelling. Good design transcends mere aesthetics, invoking emotions, fostering connections, and creating lasting memories. It's the heartbeat of an event's success, turning the ordinary into the extraordinary. Choosing the right suppliers is crucial; it's about partnering with creatives who understand your vision and possess the expertise to bring it to life. These artisans of ambiance are key to crafting experiences that not only captivate but resonate on a personal level with each attendee. 4

22 • MEETINGS l MARCH/APRIL 2024 www.theplannerguru.co.za SUPPLIERS

RIVERSIDE SPLENDOUR: The ultimate fusion of luxury and simplicity

Unmatched elegance awaits at The Riverside Hotel, your sanctuary for sophistication and leisure in Durban North.

The Riverside Hotel, with its 168 exquisitely furnished bedrooms, on-site gastronomic haven, and top-tier conference facility, invites you to a realm where luxury meets convenience. At the Riverside Grill, savour the flavours of meticulously crafted cuisine in a setting designed for indulgence and ease. They’ve seamlessly blended opulent dining with poolside leisure, stunning vistas, and spacious environs, crafting the ideal backdrop for unforgettable moments with colleagues, loved ones, or friends.

SERVICE EXCELLENCE

At The Riverside Hotel, they pride themselves on delivering comprehensive services tailored to your every need. From round-the-clock reception, diverse conference facilities, to personalised room service, and a mini gym, every detail is catered to.

DISCOVER ENDLESS ATTRACTIONS

The Riverside Hotel opens the door to boundless adventures: delve into the wonders of uShaka Marine World, explore the vast Gateway Theatre of Shopping, marvel at the Umgeni Bird Park, enjoy a round at Windsor Golf Course, or experience the thrill of a game at Moses Mabhida Stadium.

CONFERENCING FACILITIES

Located in Durban North, The Riverside Conference Centre and The Riverside Business Centre are eight minutes from Durban CBD, 13 minutes from Umhlanga, and 20 minutes from King Shaka International Airport.

The Riverside Conference Centre

Full Day Conference Price

The Riverside Conference Centre features six versatile venues for conferences, business meetings, and functions.

The Riverside Business Centre offers five sunlit venues with blackout curtains and scenic views of the Umgeni River, catering to conferences, business meetings, and functions.

At The Riverside Hotel, every aspect of your stay — from the luxurious accommodations and gourmet dining to the state-of-the-art conferencing facilities and exciting local attractions — is meticulously designed to ensure an unparalleled experience that combines grandeur with the utmost convenience.

CONFERENCE PACKAGES

The Riverside Business Centre

What you get Full Day Conference Price

What you get

R475 p/p Venue hire, R495 p/p Venue hire,

Meals (arrival, midmorning, and afternoon refreshments, buffet lunch with soft drink),

Stationery (notepads, pens, mints, water),

AV equipment (data projector, screens, flipcharts),

Meals (arrival, mid-morning, and afternoon refreshments, buffet lunch with soft drink),

Stationery (notepads, pens, mints, water),

AV equipment (data projector, screens, flipcharts),

High-speed Wi-Fi, and High-speed Wi-Fi, and Parking for 170 vehicles. Parking for 170 vehicles.

Half Day Conference Price What you get Half Day Conference Price What you get R450 p/p Venue hire, R450 p/p Venue hire,

Meals (arrival, midmorning, or afternoon refreshments, buffet lunch with soft drink),

Stationery (notepads, pens, mints, water),

AV equipment (data projector, screens, flipcharts),

High-speed Wi-Fi, and

Meals (arrival, mid-morning, or afternoon refreshments, buffet lunch with soft drink),

Stationery (notepads, pens, mints, water),

AV equipment (data projector, screens, flipcharts),

High-speed Wi-Fi, and Parking for 170 vehicles. Parking for 170 vehicles.

www.theplannerguru.co.za MEETINGS l MARCH/APRIL 2024 • 23 #VENUESP0TLIGHT

Embracing AI in 2024

Pioneering innovations and strategic insights for professional excellence

As we navigate the frontier of artificial intelligence (AI) in professional settings, the landscape reveals an era of transformative change and unprecedented growth. In March, Meetings attended an event held by FEDHASA where Natalia Rosa – CEO of Big Ambitions – spoke about how to use AI in the hospitality and business tourism sectors.

2024 stands as a testament to AI's evolution, showcasing groundbreaking advancements that redefine our interaction with technology. From NVIDIA's unveiling of new AI innovations at CES 2024 to McKinsey's insights into generative AI's impact across industries, the narrative of AI in professional environments is one of augmentation, creativity, and strategic foresight.

There are many AI tools out there that Natalia highlighted, which can assist you in your day-to-day business. However, here we’re going to focus on the most widely known – ChatGPT.

CHATGPT 3.5 AND 4

ChatGPT 3.5 and 4 are both versions of AI developed by OpenAI. They are designed to understand and generate human-like text based on the input they receive:

• ChatGPT 3.5, an earlier version of the artificial intelligence, can answer questions, engage in conversations, and craft stories, among other capabilities, drawing upon the data it was trained on. However, this version has a slightly reduced proficiency in understanding context and generating responses when compared to its successor, ChatGPT 4.

• ChatGPT 4, an updated and more sophisticated version of its 3.5 counterpart, boasts enhanced capabilities in grasping context and nuances, as well as producing more precise and intricate responses. Additionally, it is adept at managing more complex instructions and generating content across a broader spectrum of styles and formats.

HOW CAN CHATGPT BE USED IN THE BUSINESS TOURISM SECTOR?

In the business tourism sector, ChatGPT 4 can be utilised to enhance the experience of corporate travellers and event planners through a personalised travel assistant service. For instance, a travel consultant offering business tourism services can integrate ChatGPT 4 into their service offerings to provide personalised travel itinerary planning for corporate clients. It can assist with organising business trips, conferences, or corporate retreats with tailored recommendations.

Here’s an idea of how something like this could work. The client would share details of their forthcoming business trip, highlighting preferences, goals, and any specific requirements concerning accommodation, venues, or leisure activities. Leveraging this input, ChatGPT 4 would craft a bespoke travel itinerary that caters to the client's needs. This custom plan encompass a range of accommodation options, from hotels to apartments, all selected based on the client's budget, preferred location, and desired amenities. It also includes recommendations for meeting venues — be it conference rooms, event spaces, or informal gathering spots — tailored to the group's size and the meeting's purpose.

To ensure smooth local travel, the platform would propose transport solutions, such as car rentals, public transport, or private drivers, all aligned with the traveller's schedule and mobility requirements. Furthermore, the itinerary would be enriched with suggestions for dining, cultural experiences, and leisure activities, aimed at

24 • MEETINGS l MARCH/APRIL 2024 www.theplannerguru.co.za BEST PRACTICE
Natalie Rosa, CEO: Big Ambitions Rosemary Anderson, national chairperson: FEDHASA

8

USEFUL AI TOOLS FOR THE BUSINESS TOURISM INDUSTRY

1. Chatbots and Virtual Assistants (like ChatGPT)

They can provide 24/7 assistance to clients, answering queries about travel plans, accommodation, conference details, and more without the need for human intervention. This improves customer service and reduces the workload on human staff.

2. AI-Powered Analytics Tools

These tools can analyse vast amounts of data to identify trends, preferences, and patterns in business tourism. They help in making informed decisions about marketing strategies, event-planning, and customer engagement, ultimately optimising the offerings based on client needs.

3. Personalised Recommendation Engines

complementing the business trip with pursuits that reflect the client's interests and available downtime.

Throughout their journey, corporate travellers would have the advantage of real-time assistance from the ChatGPT 4-powered assistant. This feature enables them to seek instant information or request itinerary adjustments on the fly.

WHAT BENEFITS WILL YOU GET FROM USING CHATGPT?

Using ChatGPT brings numerous benefits, including efficiency, which saves time in planning and coordination, allowing business travellers and event planners the opportunity to concentrate on their main objectives. It offers customisation, tailoring travel experiences to fit individual or group preferences, thereby enhancing satisfaction and engagement. Its adaptability allows for the flexibility to modify plans as required, catering to the ever-changing landscape of business travel. Furthermore, it's cost effective, pinpointing options that make the most of travel budgets while fulfilling all specified needs and preferences, ensuring an optimal blend of convenience and value.

The integration of AI, particularly through tools like ChatGPT, into the business tourism sector marks a significant leap forward in how we approach and manage professional travel and event-planning. Technological advancements underscore a future where AI doesn't just streamline operations but actively enhances the quality of business tourism experiences. By leveraging AI's power for customised itinerary planning, real-time assistance, and efficient coordination, professionals in this field can offer services that are not only more responsive to client needs but also ahead of the curve in adopting innovative solutions. 4

By leveraging AI platforms, personalised travel and accommodation recommendations can be offered to business travellers based on their past preferences, budget, and the purpose of the trip. This enhances the user experience and increases satisfaction and loyalty.

4. Automated Itinerary Planners

AI algorithms can swiftly generate tailored travel itineraries based on the client’s preferences and constraints. This saves time for both the client and the service provider, ensuring that the itinerary is optimised for convenience, cost, and experiences.

5. Natural Language Processing (NLP) for Sentiment Analysis

NLP tools can analyse customer feedback, reviews, and social media mentions to gauge client sentiment. This insight allows businesses to improve their services, address any issues proactively, and better understand client needs.

6. Facial Recognition for Check-ins and Security

In events and conferences, AI-powered facial recognition can streamline the check-in process, enhance security, and offer a personalised experience as attendees are recognised upon arrival.

7. AI for Sustainable Travel Options

AI can help identify and suggest eco-friendly travel and accommodation options, appealing to the growing market of environmentally conscious business travellers. It can optimise routes and suggest sustainable practices, aligning with corporate social responsibility goals.

8. Virtual Reality (VR) for Venue Inspection

Although VR is not AI, when combined with AI it can offer virtual tours of venues and locations for event planners. This helps in making informed decisions without the need for physical travel, saving time and resources.

#AIINBUSINESSTOURISM
www.theplannerguru.co.za MEETINGS l MARCH/APRIL 2024 • 25

Raising the bar: SACIA awards first professional designations at Meetings Africa 2024

At Meetings Africa 2024, the South African Communications Industries Association (SACIA) achieved a significant milestone by awarding its first professional designations in the MICE industry, marking the culmination of years of dedicated effort towards enhancing industry standards.

SACIA recognises a variety of professional designations within the MICE industry, acknowledging the skills, knowledge, and ethical standards of individuals. Congratulations to all distinguished professionals awarded by SACIA, including Chris Boshoff, Marco Sale, Kyeyune William, Nyiko Minyuku, Phoebe Phokompe, Angelique Smith, Chad Botha and others, for their outstanding contributions.

THE VALUE OF ATTAINING PROFESSIONAL DESIGNATIONS

Achieving a professional designation or certification is a clear mark of excellence in one’s career, symbolising far more than the immediate recognition it brings. It underscores an individual's profound expertise, credibility and unwavering dedication to ongoing personal and professional development. Such credentials serve as a testament to one's commitment to maintaining the highest standards in their field, continually striving to enhance their skills and knowledge base.

David Mannaioni, the Senior Director of Designation Programs at the College for Financial Planning, emphasises the significant impact these accolades have on building trust with clients. He points out that professional designations do not just enhance the individual’s reputation among peers but also play a crucial

role in establishing and nurturing trust with clients. This trust is pivotal, as it directly influences clients' confidence in the services provided, ensuring that they feel secure in the knowledge that they are in capable and qualified hands.

A COMPETITIVE EDGE

Embarking on the path to certification not only distinguishes you but also showcases your unwavering commitment to professional excellence. Such commitment is priceless in the modern job market, opening doors to improved career opportunities and stronger bargaining power in salary discussions.

According to research conducted by Key Media, the importance of professional designations is evident, with a notable 86% of business leaders showing a preference for candidates who possess these credentials.

This preference highlights the significant edge that certified professionals hold, underscoring the tangible benefits and enhanced prospects that come with achieving professional designations.

COMMITMENT TO LIFELONG LEARNING AND LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT

Pursuing a professional designation embodies a commitment to continuous learning and skill

enhancement, keeping you at the forefront of industry trends and innovations. This not only improves job performance but also enriches your career trajectory. For many, earning a professional designation opens doors to leadership roles, essential for overseeing significant projects or attaining senior positions.

IMPACT ON INDUSTRY STANDARDS AND CONSUMER TRUST

Achieving professional designations is more than just about earning titles; it signifies a commitment to upholding higher industry standards, directly contributing to the enhancement of service and product quality. These accolades act as beacons of trust and excellence for consumers, ensuring that the professionals they engage with possess verified expertise and a dedication to ethical practices. This, in turn, fosters a deeper sense of trust and establishes a foundation for stronger, more confident relationships between service providers and their clients.

The presence of such designations assures consumers that they are interacting with individuals and organisations that not only meet but exceed standard expectations, setting the stage for a superior customer experience and advancing the industry as a whole towards greater reliability and consumer satisfaction.

26 • MEETINGS l MARCH/APRIL 2024 www.theplannerguru.co.za INDUSTRY NEWS

CHALLENGES AND BARRIERS

Obtaining these designations can be challenging owing to rigorous requirements, time investment, and potential financial costs. Organisations and professional bodies are addressing these barriers through scholarships, flexible study options, and mentorship programmes.

Professional certifications and designations are not just symbols of personal achievement but also key factors in building a solid professional foundation. They signal to clients, employers, and colleagues alike that the certified professional adheres to the highest standards of quality, ethics, and professionalism.

This not only sets individuals apart in a competitive job market but also opens doors to enhanced career opportunities, including the potential for salary negotiation and advancement based on recognised expertise and trustworthiness.

In today's fast-paced and ever-evolving professional landscape, the value of such designations cannot be overstated. They are crucial for anyone looking to advance their career, underscore their professional commitment, and build lasting relationships based on trust and confidence with their clientele.

As SACIA heralds a new era with the awarding of its first professional designations, it's evident that this milestone is a step forward in elevating the MICE industry to unprecedented levels of professionalism and quality. These designations not only recognise the hard work and expertise of professionals but also ensure a brighter, more reliable future for all stakeholders.

By addressing challenges and continuously promoting excellence, SACIA sets a precedent for striving for excellence in the dynamic MICE industry landscape. 4

THE ROAD TOWARDS PROFESSIONAL DESIGNATION

In South Africa, the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) is responsible for certifying professional designations. SAQA oversees the development and implementation of the National Qualifications Framework (NQF), ensuring that professional designations and qualifications meet national standards. This body recognises professional bodies and registers their designations, contributing to the enhancement of professional standards and recognition across various industries.

The time it takes to register a professional designation with SAQA can vary depending on several factors, including the completeness of the application, the need for additional documentation, and SAQA's evaluation process. Typically, professional bodies submit the application for a new designation or for the re-registration of an existing one. The process may take several months to complete as it involves a thorough review to ensure the designation meets the required standards and criteria set by SAQA.

www.theplannerguru.co.za MEETINGS l MARCH/APRIL 2024 • 27 #SACIANEWS
Angelique Smith from Event Synthesis being awarded her certification from Kevan Jones. Chad Botha From Inspire Furniture Rentals receiving his certificate from Kevan Jones. Kevan Jones, executive director: SACIA

PEOPLE - SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY IN EVENT-PLANNING

Inclusivity, community engagement, and ethical practices stand as the pillars of socially responsible event-planning, ensuring that every aspect of an event contributes positively to society and the environment. By embracing diverse and inclusive hiring policies, event organisers can foster a culture of belonging, where varied perspectives and backgrounds enrich the event's fabric. Supporting local businesses for supplies or services not only bolsters the local economy but also reduces the carbon footprint associated with long-distance logistics. Adopting these socially responsible practices has a profound impact on attendee satisfaction and brand reputation. When participants see themselves reflected in the event's planning and execution, their sense of belonging and enjoyment increases, enhancing their overall experience.

Furthermore, showcasing a commitment to ethical practices and community support distinguishes a brand as a leader in corporate social responsibility. This, in turn, builds trust and loyalty among attendees and sponsors, who are increasingly drawn to organisations that align with their values. In essence, by prioritising inclusivity, community engagement, and ethical practices, event organisers can create more meaningful and successful events that resonate deeply with all stakeholders.

PLANET - ECO-FRIENDLY EVENT PRACTICES

Implementing strategies to reduce waste, energy consumption, and carbon footprints is pivotal in sustainable event-planning. Selecting a venue plays a critical role in this endeavour. Opting for LEED-certified buildings, which adhere to

Green events

Balancing people, planet and profit

Sustainable event-planning transcends the realm of current trends to establish itself as a vital imperative for the future of the event industry. This approach - deeply rooted in environmental responsibility, social equity, and economic viabilitychallenges the dated misconception that prioritising the planet necessitates a sacrifice in event quality or profitability.

stringent environmental standards, significantly lowers the event's environmental impact. Alternatively, virtual event platforms can eliminate travel-related carbon emissions, making them an eco-friendly choice for global gatherings.

Sustainable catering is another vital aspect, with a focus on locally sourced, organic, and plant-based food options. Such practices not only reduce the carbon footprint associated with transportation but also support local agriculture and reduce the environmental damage from conventional farming. Incorporating vegetarian and vegan options can further decrease the overall carbon footprint as plant-based diets are known to be more sustainable.

Effective waste management strategiesincluding recycling, composting, and reducing single-use plastic - are essential for minimising the environmental impact of events. Events can encourage these practices by providing clearly labelled bins, using compostable or biodegradable serve ware, and opting for digital event materials over printed ones.

Real-world examples underscore the success of these green initiatives. For instance, the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, renowned for its sustainability efforts, utilises LEED-certified venues and offsets its carbon footprint through renewable energy credits. Similarly, the Glastonbury Festival has implemented extensive recycling programmes, banned the sale of single-use plastic bottles, and encouraged attendees to use reusable water bottles, showcasing the profound impact of comprehensive waste management strategies. These examples illustrate the feasibility and benefits of incorporating sustainable practices into event-planning,

demonstrating that eco-friendly events can indeed be both viable and successful.

PROFIT - ENSURING ECONOMIC VIABILITY

Sustainable practices in event-planning not only safeguard the environment but also offer significant cost-savings. For instance, opting for digital materials over printed ones not only reduces paper waste but also cuts down on printing costs. Similarly, investing in energy-efficient lighting and equipment can significantly reduce energy consumption, leading to lower utility bills. These measures, while eco-friendly, also contribute to the overall reduction in event expenses.

The marketing benefits of hosting green events are substantial. In an era where consumers are increasingly environmentally conscious, promoting an event's sustainability can significantly enhance its appeal.

This eco-conscious approach can attract sponsors keen to associate with sustainable initiatives, and attendees who prefer supporting environmentally responsible events. Consequently, green events often enjoy heightened publicity and a positive brand image, which can translate into higher attendance rates.

MAKING IT HAPPEN - STEPS TO IMPLEMENTING SUSTAINABLE PRACTICES

To integrate people, planet, and profit into event-planning seamlessly, begin by setting clear, measurable sustainability goals that align with these three pillars. Engage stakeholdersincluding sponsors, attendees, and vendorsin this vision, ensuring their actions and expectations contribute to these objectives. Implement strategies such as selecting eco-friendly venues, promoting inclusivity, and

28 • MEETINGS l MARCH/APRIL 2024 www.theplannerguru.co.za BEST PRACTICE

INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGIES AND SUSTAINABILITY IN EVENTS

In the pursuit of sustainability within the event-planning industry, innovative technologies play a pivotal role in transforming traditional practices into green initiatives.

Digital Integration and Virtual Reality: The rise of digital platforms and virtual reality has revolutionised event-planning, offering immersive experiences that significantly reduce the carbon footprint associated with travel and physical venues. Virtual events not only decrease energy consumption but also open up new avenues for inclusivity, allowing global participation without geographical constraints.

Renewable Energy Sources: Harnessing renewable energy for events, such as solar-powered lighting and biofuel generators, presents a viable solution to reducing reliance on fossil fuels. These alternatives not only minimise environmental impacts but also offer long-term cost savings, underscoring the economic viability of sustainable practices.

Smart Waste Management: Advanced waste sorting and recycling technologies, including AI-driven systems, enhance the efficiency of waste management at events. By optimising recycling processes and reducing landfill contributions, events can significantly lower their environmental footprint.

Sustainable Transportation: Encouraging the use of electric vehicles and providing shuttle services from major transport hubs promote eco-friendly transportation options for attendees. These initiatives contribute to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, aligning with the goals of sustainable event-planning.

adopting green catering practices. Regularly monitor the event's impact on environmental and social factors to assess progress towards your goals. Embrace feedback for continuous improvement, allowing each event to become a stepping stone towards more sustainable practices. This cyclic process of planning, execution, evaluation, and refinement is crucial in evolving your events to be truly sustainable and impactful. In the long term, investing in sustainability yields considerable economic benefits. Reduced operating costs are a direct

result of efficient resource use, while the enhanced brand reputation fosters attendee loyalty, ensuring a steady demand for future events. Moreover, sustainable practices can lead to eligibility for environmental certifications and awards, further elevating an event's prestige and attracting additional sponsorship and participation. Ultimately, the commitment to sustainability not only contributes to environmental conservation but also ensures economic resilience and success in the event planning industry. 4

#SUSTAINABILITY
www.theplannerguru.co.za MEETINGS l MARCH/APRIL 2024 • 29

REVOLUTIONISING THE MICE INDUSTRY A LOOK INTO THE SUSTAINABILITY OF SOUTH AFRICA'S FUTURE

In a recent gathering at Meetings Africa 2024, industry leaders and stakeholders convened to discuss the future of the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE) industry, with a particular focus on sustainability and innovation.

The Southern African Association for the Conference Industry (SAACI) and the Event Greening Forum (EGF) announced a groundbreaking Industry Partnership Agreement, setting a new precedent for collaboration and sustainability within the sector. The partnership between them marks a pivotal step towards a greener future for the MICE industry.

With over 300 certifiers and more than 8 000 members engaged, this alliance is poised to foster long-term business relationships that prioritise sustainable practices. By leveraging SAACI's extensive membership base and the EGF's expertise, the industry is set to gain invaluable insights into sustainable event management, ensuring that the sector's growth is both responsible and forward-thinking.

A RECORD-BREAKING YEAR

This year's Meetings Africa witnessed an unprecedented level of enthusiasm, with over 200 nominations showcasing the breadth and diversity of talent within the South African MICE industry. The rigorous adjudication process, overseen by a panel of distinguished judges and audited by MGI RAS, culminated in the announcement of 87 exceptional finalists. These individuals are not only recognised for their achievements but are also provided with platforms for networking and professional development, further enhancing their contribution to the industry.

THE PATH FORWARD

Looking ahead to other events honouring the MICE industry this year, the Woman of Stature Awards 2024 promised to be a glittering celebration of female achievement in the business world. The event highlights the accomplishments of women across various

sectors, from technology to entrepreneurship. This occasion serves not only as a recognition of individual excellence but also as a catalyst for broader industry growth and recognition.

Charlotte du Plessis, CEO of the Woman of Stature Awards, emphasised the importance of these awards in promoting a more equitable and prosperous society. The #DREAMBIGGER Summit further underscores this mission, offering a platform for women to support each other in achieving greater success and impact.

The collaboration between SAACI and EGF, coupled with the anticipation surrounding the Woman of Stature Awards and the #DREAMBIGGER Summit, exemplifies the MICE industry's commitment to sustainability, innovation, and empowerment. As South Africa continues to lead the way in hosting sustainable business events, these initiatives promise to shape a brighter future for the industry, driving positive change and fostering a more inclusive and responsible business landscape. 4

BEST PRACTICE
30 • MEETINGS l MARCH/APRIL 2024 www.theplannerguru.co.za

Discover C&L TRAVEL

C&L Travel Collection is the proud host of travel and event workshops designed to educate potential bookers about the products available to them.

We maintain an up-to-date and relevant database of visitors to ensure that supporting exhibitors meet with their correct and desired target audience, face-to-face, in a cost-effective manner,” says company director, Clair Danielsen.

Each of C&L Travel Collection's focused travel workshops and roadshows offers a unique opportunity for travel buyers and bookers (usually between 80 - 110) and exhibitors (typically between 15 - 22) to come together and engage face to face.

If you would like to find out more about how to participate in these workshops, as a supplier or exhibitor, please contact Clair Danielsen on clair@candltravel.co.za or +27 (0)82 732 1785, or Lyndsey Danielsen on lyndsey@candltravel.co.za or +27 (0)83 709 7397.

C&L Travel Collection is also proud to announce that they have been appointed by Proflight Zambia to assist them with their sales and product awareness in the South African travel and corporate market. Should you wish to be visited by Jeana or Gordon in the Gauteng area, or by Michael in Cape Town, please feel free to reach out to them at jeana@candltravel.co.za, gordon@candltravel.co.za or michael@candltravel.co.za.

• 23 May 2024 Cape Town Conference & Occasions Workshop, and

• 13 June 2024 Let’s Travel Workshop KwaZulu-Natal. 4

WHERE AFFORDABLE LUXURY MEETS CONVENIENCE AND COMFORT

The Reef Hotel where affordable luxury meets convenience and comfort in the heart of the business district. Located in Marshalltown Johannesburg, the perfect getaway for both business and leisure travelers.

Our attentive staff is dedicated to ensuring your stay is nothing short of exceptional, from the moment you arrive.

Indulge in a variety of well-appointed accommodations, each thoughtfully designed with your comfort in mind. Sink into comfy bedding and enjoy amenities such as flat-screen TVs, high-speed Wi-Fi, and breathtaking views of the city skyline.

Culinary delights await at our onsite restaurant, where talented chefs craft delectable dishes using locally sourced ingredients. Whether you're craving a hearty breakfast, a light lunch, or a gourmet dinner, our menu offers something to satisfy every palate.

Planning a meeting or event? Look no further than our versatile event spaces, well equipped and supported by our experienced event planning team. Whether it's a corporate conference or event we'll ensure every detail is perfect!

Our Elevate Roof Top Venue is the ultimate luxury venue for every occasion. This uniquely chic and versatile space is perfect for Corporate Functions, Product Launches and Activations, Bachelor and Bachelorette parties, 21st Parties, Weddings, and Private parties. Hire the venue exclusively for your special occasion.

At The Reef Hotel we understand the importance of seamless service and unparalleled comfort. Come experience the pinnacle of hospitality in the heart of the business district.

BOOK YOUR STAY

www.theplannerguru.co.za MEETINGS l MARCH/APRIL 2024 • 31 #C&LTRAVEL
WITH US TODAY AND LET US EXCEED YOUR EXPECTATIONS. www.reefhotel.co.za

Embracing Innovation

The dawn of a new era in African hospitality

The African hotel and hospitality industry stands on the cusp of a transformative era, characterised by rapid technological adoption, market confidence, and significant investment. The African Hospitality Confidence Index 2024 (AHCI) provides a comprehensive analysis of this dynamic sector, revealing trends that signal a future of growth, innovation, and resilience.

INNOVATION AND ADOPTING AI

A significant shift towards digital transformation is underway in the African hospitality sector, with artificial intelligence (AI) leading the charge. Approximately one in four businesses is now leveraging AI to enhance operational efficiency, improve guest experiences, and refine revenue management strategies. This widespread adoption marks a pivotal move towards a more technologically integrated future, suggesting a sector ripe for innovation.

Increasing the adoption of AI within the hospitality sector heralds a transformative shift towards unparalleled operational efficiency, deeply personalised guest experiences, and astute revenue management strategies. It not only streamlines the mundane, allowing human creativity and warmth to flourish, but also equips us with the foresight to anticipate and exceed guest expectations, setting new benchmarks in service excellence.

MARKET CONFIDENCE AND GROWTH

In the aftermath of the pandemic, the African hospitality industry has exhibited remarkable recovery and optimism. Buoyed by robust fundamentals such as the growth in tourism and

business travel, the sector has demonstrated improved operational performance and efficiency. The confidence among businesses is palpable, with the majority looking towards the future with optimism and readiness to capitalise on emerging opportunities.

INVESTMENT AND DEVELOPMENT

The industry is witnessing a surge in investment, underscored by major international brands expanding their footprints across the continent. The current development pipeline, boasting 482 hotels, signifies not just a rebound but a voracious appetite for new investment and partnership opportunities within the sector.

Several African countries are among the fastest-growing economies globally, contributing to increased urbanisation and disposable incomes. This economic development supports the hospitality sector, both as a market for international tourists and a growing domestic travel sector. For international hotel brands, expansion into Africa represents a strategic opportunity to enter and establish a presence in emerging markets with less saturation than in more developed regions. By doing so, they can capture market share early, build brand loyalty, and leverage first-mover advantages.

There's an ongoing investment in infrastructure across the continent, including transportation and telecommunications, making it more accessible for both international travellers and domestic movement. Improved infrastructure supports the hospitality industry by easing travel logistics and enhancing the guest experience.

REVENUE MANAGEMENT AND STRATEGIC PLANNING

Dynamic pricing strategies are at the forefront of efforts to optimise revenue and maximise occupancy. This strategic approach, coupled with a shift towards increased capital expenditure, indicates a sector that is not just competing but thriving by adapting to market demands and customer needs.

ENVIRONMENTAL, SOCIAL AND GOVERNANCE (ESG) INITIATIVES

The importance of ESG and sustainability initiatives has never been more pronounced, with businesses acknowledging their critical role in ensuring long-term success. While implementation has been gradual, those who have embarked on this journey report significant positive impacts on customer satisfaction and loyalty.

32 • MEETINGS l MARCH/APRIL 2024 www.theplannerguru.co.za INDUSTRY OPINION

CHALLENGES AND FUTURE OUTLOOK

In the face of an encouraging overall outlook, the sector maintains a watchful eye on several potential hurdles that lie ahead. Among these challenges, the integration of new technologies stands out as a significant area of focus. As the industry evolves, incorporating cutting-edge innovations becomes imperative to stay competitive and meet the changing demands of the market. However, this integration process is not without its complexities, requiring careful planning and execution to ensure seamless adoption and minimal disruption.

Another critical concern for the sector is the management of costs. In an economic climate characterised by fluctuating interest rates and varying access to capital, efficiently managing financial resources becomes crucial. Organisations must navigate these financial waters with precision, balancing investment in growth with the need to maintain financial stability.

Moreover, the macroeconomic and geopolitical landscapes present their own set of challenges. The sector must remain adaptable and resilient, ready to respond to economic shifts and geopolitical events that could impact operations and market dynamics. These factors can influence everything from supply chain logistics to international trade relations, necessitating a proactive and strategic approach to decision-making.

Despite these obstacles, a robust spirit of ambition and an eagerness to explore new opportunities are deeply ingrained within the industry's culture. This forward-looking attitude fuels the sector's drive to innovate and expand,

even in the face of uncertainty. The industry's readiness to embrace the future, coupled with a strategic approach to overcoming challenges, underscores its resilience and potential for continued growth. This dynamic interplay of vigilance and ambition shapes the sector's trajectory, promising a future where it not only navigates hurdles but thrives amid them.

BLEISURE TRAVEL

The blend of business and leisure travel is emerging as a significant growth driver, with hotels reporting increased occupancy and revenue from bleisure customers. This trend underscores the need for accommodation to adapt to the varied needs of today’s traveller, from workspaces to leisure amenities.

SECTOR DYNAMICS AND DEMOGRAPHICS

Reflecting the industry's broad spectrum, the survey garnered responses from 537 businesses across 30 African countries, including both small and medium-sized enterprises and major brands. This diversity highlights a sector that is not only vast but vibrant, with a collective movement towards innovation and growth.

The African Hospitality Confidence Index 2024 paints a picture of an industry at an inflection point, ready to embrace the future with innovation, resilience, and strategic foresight. The African hospitality sector is poised for unprecedented growth, driven by a confident outlook and a commitment to evolving with the times. 4

www.theplannerguru.co.za MEETINGS l MARCH/APRIL 2024 • 33 #AHCI

LEVERAGING PRIVATE SECTOR COLLABORATION FOR SUSTAINABLE ECONOMIC GROWTH

Private sector collaboration plays a pivotal role in driving sustainable economic growth. It is vital to leverage private-public partnerships, innovative strategies, and the vast potential of the business tourism sector to boost the economy.

WENHANCING ECONOMIC GROWTH THROUGH COLLABORATION

BENEFITS OF PRIVATE-PUBLIC PARTNERSHIPS

ith over 300 certifiers and engagement spanning 8 000 entities, the collaboration between the private and public sectors has been instrumental in achieving significant milestones. The emphasis on the sector's role in not just in economic contributions but in shaping a sustainable and inclusive growth trajectory for South Africa and beyond.

Business tourism has transformative potential owing to its role in generating high-value economic activities. The industry, known for its capacity to attract business travellers with significant spending power, has been identified as a key driver for the national economy. Insights showcase successful strategies for attracting international conferences, conventions, and meetings, which have contributed substantially to local economies and helped in positioning South Africa as a premier business tourism destination.

THE ROLE OF DATA AND MARKET CHAINS

Data utilisation is of the utmost importance as is the understanding of market chains in enhancing competitiveness. By analysing trends and leveraging insights, South Africa can better cater to the evolving needs of the global business community, ensuring that it remains a top choice for international events and meetings. The focus is on creating a more focused and targeted approach to marketing and engagement, so enhancing South Africa's appeal as a business tourism hub.

FOSTERING GLOBAL PARTNERSHIPS

If we want to make a significant impact, global partnerships and international cooperation are essential. Speakers have shared their experiences and insights, highlighting the benefits of cross-border collaboration in promoting business tourism.

The discussions emphasise creating a conducive environment for knowledge-sharing, networking, and exploring innovative solutions to common challenges.

LOOKING FORWARD - SUSTAINABILITY AND ECONOMIC DIVERSIFICATION

The path to sustainable economic development lies in diversification and innovation. South Africa's commitment to expanding its business tourism sector, coupled with a strategic focus on sustainability, offers a promising avenue for economic diversification.

By fostering an environment that encourages learning, collaboration, and innovation, South Africa aims not only to enhance its business tourism offerings but also contribute to the broader goal of sustainable development. This is a powerful reminder of the synergies between the private sector, government initiatives, and international collaboration in fostering economic growth.

As South Africa continues to navigate its path towards economic resilience, the insights and strategies shared provide a roadmap for harnessing the full potential of business tourism and beyond.

Combining the public authority with private sector efficiency allows for resource-sharing, encourages innovative solutions through shared expertise, and stimulates the economy by accelerating development projects that create jobs and boost local economies.

MAJOR COMPONENTS OF BUSINESS TOURISM

Business tourism is driven by activities such as international conferences and conventions that foster global business relationships, exhibitions, and trade shows that showcase local industries and attract international investors, and corporate travel that promotes high-value economic activity through business-related travel and expenditures.

ATTRACTING BUSINESS TOURISM

To attract business tourism, destinations must develop competitive venues and accommodation, utilise data and trends for targeted marketing to attract specific sectors and events, and provide financial and logistical support to event organisers through various incentives.

FUTURE OUTLOOK

The future involves integrating eco-friendly measures into tourism offerings and expanding into new sectors like technology and creative industries to build economic resilience. This approach not only enhances business tourism offerings but also contributes to the broader goal of sustainable development. 4

34 • MEETINGS l MARCH/APRIL 2024 www.theplannerguru.co.za INDUSTRY OPINION

Meetings magazine is a popular B2B title for professionals in the business tourism and business events ecosystems, who need to keep their finger on the pulse of the latest news, trends, expert opinions, thought leader insights, best practices, and more. We pride ourselves on having original, relevant, and in-demand content – as well as being accessible, being freely available across multiple channels.

What makes Meetings UNIQUE?

It is a leading source of business intelligence for the MICE and business events market

It is distributed to key industry decision-makers

It is accessible through multiple channels: print, newsletters, web, and social media

Endorsed by several leading industry associations, including AIPC, SAACI, EXSA, AAXO, the PCO Alliance Network, and the EGF.

SPECIAL FOCUS PUBLICATIONS

This annual publication is an essential resource for event planners, cataloguing the industry’s leading venues and suppliers in a way that makes it easy to find the perfect solution for your next event. Complemented with handy advice, tips, and insights, it’s been dubbed ‘the event planner’s bible’.

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www.theplannerguru.co.za MEETINGS l MARCH/APRIL 2024 • 35
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2024 HIGHLIGHTS

SAVE THE DATES OF THESE KEY MICE INDUSTRY EVENTS.

AFRICA’S TRAVEL INDABA 2024

Africa’s Travel Indaba, owned and managed by South African Tourism, is one of the largest tourism marketing events on the African calendar and one of the top three ‘must-visit’ events of its kind on the global calendar.

Venue: Inkosi Albert Luthuli Convention Centre (Durban ICC) & Durban Exhibition Centre (DEC), Durban

Dates:

• BONDay: 13 May 2024

• Exhibition: 14-16 May 2024

Website: www.indaba-southafrica.co.za

AFRICA YOUTH IN TOURISM INNOVATION SUMMIT & CHALLENGE

This annual pan-African innovation summit and entrepreneurship ecosystem is aimed at talented African youth and start-ups in tourism, travel, and hospitality related industries.

Venue: Windhoek, Namibia

Date: 28-31 May 2024

Website: youthtourismsummit.com

AFRICA’S BIG 7

Africa's Big 7 is a premier event for the food and beverage retail sector. It promises over 170 exhibitors, 4 300+ attendees from 25 countries, showcasing a diverse selection of products and innovations. This edition focuses on building valuable industry connections, enhancing knowledge, and exploring a wide range of products. Key highlights include top chef showcases and access to the Hotel & Hospitality Expo Africa, aiming to transform the F&B landscape in Africa and beyond.

Venue: Johannesburg, South Africa

Date: 11 - 13 June 2024

Website: https://dmgemsforms.com/ AfricaBig7/

SAITEX

SAITEX Africa serves as a dynamic marketplace connecting international and local businesses within Southern Africa's economy. Celebrating over 29 years, SAITEX facilitates the discovery of innovative products, solutions, and services, offering attendees from over 25 countries a platform for growth, engagement, and exploration. The event focuses on diverse sectors including homeware, textiles, consumer electronics, and more, aiming to unlock trade opportunities within the expansive R900 billion township/grey economy.

Venue: Johannesburg, South Africa

Date: 11 - 13 June 2024

Website: https: //www.saitexafrica.com/

SAACI ANNUAL CONGRESS 2024

The details for the South African Association for the Conference Industry (SAACI) 2024 Annual National Congress have not yet been announced, but typically it takes place in July in a different location each year. For updates, please check their website: www.saaci.org

TBCSA CONFERENCE 2024

This will be the third edition of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa’s (TBCSA) annual tourism leadership conference, providing an open forum for the private sector, public sector, academia, and media, to come together and discuss the opportunities and challenges facing the local tourism sector.

Venue: Sun City Resort, North West

Date: 8-20 September 2024

Website: tbcsa.travel

AFRICA TOURISM LEADERSHIP FORUM (ATLF) & AWARDS 2024

ATLF is a Pan-African dialogue platform. It brings together key stakeholders of Africa’s travel, tourism, hospitality, and aviation sectors to network, share insights, and devise strategies for intra-Africa travel and tourism growth across the continent, whilte enhancing the brand equity of “Destination Africa’’.

Venue: Gaborone International Convention Centre, Gaborone, Botswana

Date: 3-6 September 2024

Website: www.tourismleadershipforum.africa

ICCA 63RD CONGRESS

ICCA, the International Congress and Convention Association, is the global meetings industry network.

Venue: Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates

Date: 20-23 October 2024

Website: www.iccaworld.org 4

TRAVEL-FOCUSED WORKSHOPS

C&L Travel Collection prides themselves on creating and hosting product specific and cost-effective face-to-face marketing platforms countrywide, where they facilitate networking, sales, and education by sourcing applicable suppliers and inviting potential buyers to participate in a morning of education and fun. Examples of their focused workshops include, among others, Conference & Occasions, The Best of Botswana, The Best of East Africa, The Best of Namibia, The Best of Zimbabwe and Zambia, and Cruising and Islands. Should you wish to participate in these events, as a supplier or visitor, please contact Clair at clair@candltravel.co.za.

36 • MEETINGS l MARCH/APRIL 2024 www.theplannerguru.co.za EVENT DIARIES

INDUSTRY VIEWS

ROAR Award 2024 Winners

AAXO ROAR Awards celebrates excellence in the exhibition industry

The Association of African Exhibition Organisers (AAXO) hosted its highly anticipated ROAR Awards ceremony on 29 February 2024 at Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand, honouring the outstanding achievements in the exhibition industry.

DEVI PAULSEN-ABBOTT

is the chairperson of the Association of African Exhibition Organisers Organisers (AAXO) .

The event brought together industry leaders, innovators, and stakeholders to celebrate excellence and recognise the remarkable contributions made by individuals and organisations in the field.

The ROAR Awards, now in its fifth edition, continues to serve as a prestigious platform that acknowledges excellence, innovation and professionalism within the African exhibition industry. This year’s awards saw an unprecedented level of participation and competition, highlighting the industry's resilience and commitment to delivering exceptional experiences despite challenging times.

After careful consideration by an esteemed panel of judges, including Irene Costa, Lia Marus. Sello Ramasepele, Antonio Brito, Jennifer Potter and Martha Geyser, The winners across various categories were announced, showcasing excellence in different aspects of exhibition management, design, marketing, and service delivery.

Among the highlights of the evening were the following award categories and winners:

Best Trade Exhibition

Under 6 000 m2

Certificate of Excellence in Marketing and PR went to Propak Cape by Specialised Exhibitions, Certificate of Excellence in Operations went to Angola Oil & Power by Energy Capital & Power and the category award winner was Securex by Specialised Exhibitions.

Best Trade Exhibition

Over 6 000 m2

Certificate of Excellence went to Big 5 Construct Southern Africa by dmg events and the award went to Enlit Africa by VUKA Group.

Best Consumer Exhibition

Over 6 000 m2

Comic Con Africa by Mogull Media.

Best Trade and Consumer Exhibition

Under 6 000 m2

Certificate of Excellence went to Frame Week Africa by RX Africa and the award went to Decorex Cape Town by RX Africa.

Best Trade and Consumer Exhibition

Over 6 000 m2

Certificate of Excellence went to Rand Show by Dogan and the award went to Decorex Johannesburg by RX Africa.

Exhibition Stand of the Year

Certificate of Excellence awarded to House of Task by House of Task and the Best Stand Build was awarded to Console Connect by Scan Display.

Outstanding Contribution to the Industry

• Tiisetso Tau, Managing Director of Sydney Business Events,

• Devi Paulsen-Abbott, Chairperson of Association of African Exhibition Organisers and CEO of Energy Capital & Power,

• Justin Hawes, Managing Director of Scan Display, and

• Projeni Pather, immediate past-Chair of Association of African Exhibition Organisers and Managing Director of Exposure Marketing.

Service Supplier of the Year

Certificate of Excellence went to Expo Guys and the winner for best supplier was GL Events.

Best Social Media Campaign

Mogull Media for Comic Con Africa.

Best SA Launch Event

Mogull Media for Comic Con Africa.

Best Digital Campaign

Fame Week Africa by RX Africa

Best PR Campaign

RX Africa PR Team by Decorex

Best Venue

Gallagher Convention Centre.

Most Promising Rising Star/Young Professional Boitumelo Pooe, Scan Display. 4

www.theplannerguru.co.za MEETINGS l MARCH/APRIL 2024 • 37
#INDUSTRYINSIGHTS

INDUSTRY VIEWS

Continuous professional development

African Century

In many ways, Africa is the continent of the future. The United Nations projects that by 2050, Africa's population will nearly double to approximately 2.5 billion, accounting for over 25% of the global population.

TSVEN BOSSU is the CEO of the International Association of Convention Centres (AIPC).

he African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement is set to unify 55 economies into one of the world's largest free trade zones. This monumental step will necessitate an extensive network of conference and exhibition spaces to facilitate trade and cooperation. AIPC, in partnership with its African Community, is launching customised educational programmes to bolster venues on this transformative journey.

AFRICA IS A VIBRANT CONTINENT WITH A YOUNG AND AMBITIOUS POPULATION

Insights from The Economist, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) echo a unified optimism about Africa's future. The OECD notes an uptick in productivity across the continent. Despite rapid population growth, income per capita has increased at a rate twice that of OECD nations, heralding the rise of a robust middle class. Consumer markets are thriving, with significant increases in the ownership of everything from mobile phones to cars. However, the continent still faces challenges, such as high intra-continental trade tariffs, as highlighted by Al Jazeera research, making it more costly to import goods within Africa than from outside.

THE INTERTWINED FUTURES OF GDP AND THE EVENT INDUSTRY

Research by AIPC demonstrates a direct correlation between GDP growth and increased revenues in the events industry. Yet, African venues are currently challenged by a shortage of skilled professionals. Offering specialised, high-quality training is crucial for overcoming these hurdles. The success of the AIPC Academy, with its comprehensive venue management curriculum, underscores the importance of such education. Nonetheless, adjustments are needed to serve the African Community better, considering factors like the high cost of travel to Europe and the need for a curriculum that addresses the specific needs of African venue professionals.

In response, under the leadership of Taubie Motlhabane, CEO of Cape Town ICC and AIPC Board Member, the Africa Academy has been launched. Available to both AIPC members and non-members, this five-day event in Cape Town (19 - 23 August) will feature dynamic sessions led by global experts on a variety of topics, from technology to security. Despite the diversity of Africa's venue landscape, the programme promises ample opportunities for sharing best practices, networking, and learning, with the ultimate goal of fostering a vibrant community of venue professionals across Africa and beyond. 4

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Packed with advice, handy tips, tools, and event planning insight from leading industry experts and combined with the comprehensive The Meetings & Event Planner is essential if you’re organising any type of event.

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This alternative monthly publication investigates new trends, ideas and strategies relevant to the meetings and events industry to keep you ahead of the planner pack.

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38 • MEETINGS l MARCH/APRIL 2024 www.theplannerguru.co.za TALKING POINTS
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INDUSTRY

Sustainable solutions: Revolutionising Africa's events sector

In today's rapidly changing world, the imperative for sustainability stands out as a constant call to action. John Arvanitakis , Chairperson of the Event Greening Forum (EGF) emphasises that sustainability within the events industry isn't a mere trend but a pressing necessity in the face of climate change.

THE ROLE OF EVENTS IN CLIMATE MITIGATION

Events renowned for their vibrancy and impact, unfortunately, cast a substantial environmental shadow by contributing significantly to carbon emissions. Africa's events industry leaves a notable carbon footprint, underlining the urgent need for sustainable practices to be embraced across the sector.

PRACTICAL MEASURES TOWARD SUSTAINABILITY

Transforming commitment into tangible action requires a concerted effort from event professionals. From waste-reduction strategies to the adoption of renewable energy solutions, these sustainable practices not only benefit the environment but also bolster business efficiency and reputation.

Reflecting on the lessons learned in 2023, here are eight fundamental steps for event professionals to champion sustainability:

1. Integrate sustainability into the core business strategy: Incorporate sustainability goals into the fundamental objectives and decision-making processes of event-planning as well as execution. By making sustainability a priority, it becomes intrinsic to every aspect of event management.

2. Address energy use and financial barriers: Explore opportunities to reduce energy consumption and minimise costs through energy-efficient practices and investments in renewable energy sources. Overcoming financial obstacles may require innovative financing options or partnerships to implement sustainable solutions effectively.

3. Embrace technological innovations to streamline operations: Utilise advancements in technology to optimise event operations, reduce resource consumption, and improve efficiency. Tools such as event management software, smart lighting systems, and digital communication platforms can enhance sustainability efforts.

4. Implement systems to monitor emissions across the supply chain: Establish mechanisms to track and measure greenhouse gas emissions throughout the event supply chain, including transportation, venue operations as well as food and beverage services. This data provides valuable insights for identifying areas of improvement and setting emission reduction targets.

5. Stay updated on sustainable event management best practices: Continuously educate yourself on the latest developments, best practices and innovations in sustainable event

management. Engage with industry experts, attend conferences, and participate in training programmes to stay informed and enhance your skills in sustainability.

6. Ensure transparency and avoid greenwashing: Maintain transparency in sustainability initiatives and avoid greenwashing by ensuring that actions are genuine, measurable, and transparent. Honest communication about sustainability efforts builds trust and credibility within the industry and among stakeholders.

7. Invest in training programmes to empower staff: Provide training and development opportunities to equip event staff with the knowledge and skills needed to implement and champion sustainability initiatives. Foster a culture of innovation and collaboration, where team members actively contribute to greening efforts.

8. Cultivate stakeholder buy-in and engagement: Foster stakeholder engagement and cultivate support for sustainability goals among event participants, sponsors, vendors, and staff. Effective communication about the importance of sustainability encourages collaboration and commitment to green initiatives.

CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES

Despite encountering challenges such as financial constraints and logistical intricacies, the journey towards sustainability presents fertile ground for innovation and collaboration. Success stories abound, showcasing events that have overcome obstacles to achieve their green objectives.

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

The outlook for sustainability within Africa's events industry is promising. Emerging trends and technologies offer unprecedented opportunities to enhance operational efficiency and reduce environmental impact. However, sustaining momentum necessitates unwavering commitment and collaboration across the industry.

The call for sustainability within Africa's events industry reverberates loudly and urgently. As stewards of this sector, event professionals bear the responsibility of embracing sustainable practices, catalysing positive change, and forging a path towards a more environmentally conscious future. Let us heed this call to action, united in our commitment to building a resilient and sustainable events industry for generations to come. 4

www.theplannerguru.co.za MEETINGS l MARCH/APRIL 2024 • 39 Net Zero Carbon Events
VIEWS
#INDUSTRYINSIGHTS
JOHN ARVANITAKISS is the chairperson of the Event Greening Forum

INDUSTRY VIEWS

EXSA-LLENCE Awards 2024

Following an extremely successful awards function in January, we decided to start preparing our members for the next awards to ensure the quality is even better.

The EXSA-LLENCE awards take place in January every year. The awards give our members an opportunity to showcase their work and be rewarded for all their effort. There is a variety of categories for both exhibitions and events that can be entered.

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES

One of the most crucial elements is the visual representation of material submitted - this could make or break your entry:

• The photos need to be high res and be from every angle of the stand.

• Events need a description of your role in the event and video footage of that event. It is very difficult to judge a photograph of events.

• Please submit a separate PowerPoint submission for each entry.

INDUSTRY VIEWS

Just breathe

If at all possible, try and get professional photos and videos taken on site to ensure their quality. The deadline for submission is 29 November 2024. If you would like any more information on the process of submitting entries for the awards, please refer to our website www.exsa.co.za.

The awards are reserved for our EXSA members so if you would like to be included please contact the EXSA office on 011 620 3089 or info@exsa.co.za and we will gladly guide you through the membership process and explain the many advantages of becoming a member. Our members also have the opportunity to vote for our intermediaries who the industry relies on for their support and expertise. Together with the EGF, we have awards for Greening Events and Exhibitions. We have also introduced a collaboration award for the events and shows that we partner with during the year. This has become a very important part of our member support on site and has proven to be very successful. If you are proud of your work and would like to be a part of this prestigious event, please contact me. 4

Reclaim balance by design

The meetings and event world is fast paced at most times, but mindfulness may help many event professionals move through the storm with calm, presence, and focus.

GLENTON DE KOCK

is the CEO of the Southern African Association for the Conference Industry (SAACI).

Abrief mindful pause can reduce burnout and increase satisfaction. As this article is penned, we are in the week of the 'first' holiday break –Easter – and while many will be busy with meetings and events or travelling, we must make our own 'extremes' of health, happiness, and harmony.

Living in intensity and an environment of the extreme demands of deadlines is often unavoidable - it's the world we live in today. By being intentional about protection, boundaries, resilience, and designing equilibrium, we can prevent extremes from making us extremely overwhelmed.

DON'T LEAVE YOUR LIFE BALANCE TO CHANCE

Be proactive about structuring routines, rituals, and lifestyle practices that create pockets of calm and normalcy within the dimensions of intensity.

A simple, Most Valuable Priorities (MVP) review at a quiet moment, midway through the event day, brings mindful awareness to identifying and re-focusing your efforts there. Let go of anything extraneous that doesn't provide value. An area that may be beneficial to our clients, staff, and ourselves is to build mindful

moments into the event, incorporating short grounding activities like guided breathing, meditation moments, or mindfulness tips. This promotes mindfulness for attendees too.

MOVE MINDFULLY

One that is slowly gaining momentum is Move Mindfully. Most venues allow for mindfully walking between meeting rooms or doing purposeful, deep breathing while moving equipment, bringing awareness to your physical motions and movements.

In an industry that has many conversations and talking, practising mindful listening when communicating with clients, vendors, and staff is an area that will allow us to slow down and listen without letting our minds wander. Being fully present and attentive reduces mistakes and shows those you work with that they have your full attention.

As event professionals, we can practise mindfulness in several ways to help stay grounded and focused amid the chaos and high-stress environment of planning and executing events.

In doing so, we can safeguard our precious sanity. 4

40 • MEETINGS l MARCH/APRIL 2024 www.theplannerguru.co.za TALKING POINTS
LEE-ANN ALDER is the association manager of the Exhibition and Events Association of Southern Africa (EXSA).
Calling for nominations

Ensuring sustainability INDUSTRY VIEWS

Greening and sustainability at events

Often the question is asked: What is a sustainable event and how do we as event specialists address this growing concern?

Asustainable event is one that considers the environment and works to reduce or alleviate negative impacts on the places and people involved in the event. These types of events adopt eco-friendly practices such as recycling and saving water as well as incorporating them to reduce the event's carbon footprint. Traditionally, events have created huge amounts of unnecessary plastic, paper, food waste and carbon emissions to name a few.

RESPONSIBLE EVENTING

How does an events company approach an event in a responsible way but still create a beautiful and budget-efficient event? Sometimes incorporating sustainability comes at a cost. However there can be two-fold solutions.

“Buy Local” has become almost mandatory. This boosts our local economy and it reduces unnecessary, low-quality, imported items and their ensuing transport emissions and costs.

“For a recent conference we had cork lanyards made for a 200 pax and we encouraged delegates to return the lanyards and plastic pouches to be used again at another conference. The client was a university association and the book of abstracts was not printed. The agenda and full programme were displayed electronically,” PCO Alliance member, Marian Louw from Event Behella.

“At the United Nations Climate Change Conferences, our core contributions encompass hotel sourcing, delegation management and pavilion coordination. This ensures the seamless execution of these crucial events that shape the global dialogue on climate action. In addition to our

commitment to the success of the conferences, we are deeply invested in green initiatives. Recognising the urgency of environmental responsibility, we take proactive measures to ensure the construction of pavilions that are environmentally friendly utilising recycled materials in their construction,” PCOAN member, Jacqui Joshua, from JJ Conference and Travel.

“At a recent conference, we used recycled t-shirts with a recycled paper wrapper and name tag as one of our room drop gifts. Water was provided in recyclable cartons and we did our wine room drop gifts in recycled card boxes with recycled string and recycled paper card name tags,” PCOAN member, Lyett Burger, Gooseberry Events.

Another pause for thought is if there was a positive take-away from COVID and the ensuing lockdowns are hybrid events. This enabled companies to engage with their audiences online in a very positive and beneficial manner.

The requirement for air and road travel was done away with. It continues as a vital trend today and when one considers specialised speakers and delegates who would have required business class air travel to attend an event can now deliver talks and presentations online to the face-to-face delegates. This reduces carbon emissions into the atmosphere and it lowers large travel costs to companies.

There are greening solutions for all events if our industry commits to investigating and instituting them. It also adds a very different and creative approach that is not only extremely necessary but uplifting. 4

www.theplannerguru.co.za MEETINGS l MARCH/APRIL 2024 • 41
MELODY BARBER, is Chairperson of the PCO Alliance Network.
#INDUSTRYINSIGHTS

Promoting professionalism INDUSTRY VIEWS

KEVAN JONES is the executive director of the Southern African Communications Industries Association (SACIA).

Great things come from hard work and perseverance.

A little over 10 years ago, a small group of people led by Glenn van Eck, then a member of the SAACI board, gathered to establish the Council of Event Professionals Africa (CEPA). Their objective was to develop an independent professional body that would allow industry stakeholders to create and award professional designations to recognise the skill and competence of industry professionals working in the events sector.

Early efforts were funded by SAACI, EXSA and IFEA contributions, with each association appointing two directors to the founding board.

GREAT PROMISE

The first few years showed great promise but progress was slow not least because all the members were working on a volunteer basis and none had any specific experience working in an academic landscape that required a close working relationship with SAQA and the tertiary education system. After several stop-start attempts, it became clear that CEPA wasn't achieving its objectives. In 2018, it was reconstituted as a special interest group within SACIA, an existing professional body with experience developing designations in event technology. Two years later, under SACIA's leadership, CEPA created event management designations, which were registered with SAQA in November 2020.

A GAMBLE THAT PAID OFF

One would never have thought this was the time to roll out the designations but we were smack in the COVID pandemic, with most event organisers struggling to survive. In addition, the founding associations underwent a profound leadership change, with the exhibition organisers breaking away from EXSA to establish the Association of African Exhibition Organisers in 2015. SAACI also experienced change,

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with four different executives leading the Association over 10 years.

Each leadership change provided a different understanding of CEPA's purpose and the bond between CEPA and its founding partners became ever more tenuous. Shortly after the designations were registered with SAQA, the support promised by the founding associations essentially vanished.

Glenn recalls that they were making great progress but were taking two steps back for every step forward. It was almost as if stakeholders wanted them to fail. Despite these setbacks, CEPA focused on our desired outcome with a laser focus.

Between 2020 to 2022 we worked with more than 60 industry volunteers and several academics to develop and refine our qualifying exam and assessment protocols. We created an online, multiple-choice exam that tested the breadth and depth of a candidate's knowledge across all facets of event management. We've now been able to award designations to our first 25 professional members. Our success is a tribute to the perseverance and hard work put in by many volunteers over the years. Many of them will curse my name for pushing them as I did but, collectively, we refused to fail. Perseverance separates the winners from the losers. Those who persevere understand that luck is something only losers believe in. 4

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If that’s you, after reading this issue, please head on over to theplannerguru.co.za and click on the ‘EARN CPD POINTS’ tab to take a short survey and earn one CPD credit.

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42 • MEETINGS l www.theplannerguru.co.za
TALKING POINTS

INDUSTRY VIEWS

African gem

Discover Tanzania’s southern tourism circuit

In a far corner of Tanzania’s virgin southern tourist circuit lies a picturesque and serene national park with hidden treasures. Dubbed Kitulo National Park, an enchanting tourist destination with spectacular sceneries, it is a typical African paradise.

TES PROOS

is president of the African Chapter of the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE).

Tucked away in tropical Africa, Kitulo holds a singular distinction as the first national park established primarily for its floristic significance. It boasts one of the most remarkable floral spectacles in the world, a paradise for botany enthusiasts and nature lovers alike.

“At first glance, Kitulo appears a typical tropical landscape, but its true allure lies within the astounding diversity of plant life it hosts,” says Mussa Kuji, the Conservation Commissioner for Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA).

With over 350 species of vascular plants, including an astonishing 45 varieties of terrestrial orchids, Kitulo is a veritable treasure trove of botanical wonders. As you wander through its verdant expanses, you will be immersed in a botanical symphony, surrounded by flamboyant flowers, vibrant mosses, and ancient ferns.

A HIDDEN TREASURE

Despite its profound significance in the realm of conservation and biodiversity, Kitulo remains largely unknown to the wider world. Its obscurity, however, is an integral part of its charm.

“Here, amidst the untouched wilderness, visitors can experience unspoiled beauty of nature in its purest form,” says Mr Kuji, an accomplished business and financial guru with a critical soft skills package for developing quality tourism business.

Indeed, the park offers a refuge from the hustle and bustle of modern life, a tranquil sanctuary where time seems to stand still.

“Exploring Kitulo is a journey of discovery, a chance to witness nature's artistry at its finest,” explains the state-run conservation and tourism agency Chief, adding, “As the golden sun bathes the landscape in a warm glow, the vibrant hues of the floral tapestry come alive, painting a breathtaking portrait of natural elegance.”

THE RESILIENCE AND BEAUTY OF NATURE

Each step through the park is a testament to the resilience and beauty of the natural world, a reminder of the importance of preserving these precious ecosystems.

Mr Kuji says for those seeking to venture off the titanic Serengeti and Kilimanjaro Mountain beaten paths, Kitulo offers a rare opportunity for connecting with nature in a profound and meaningful way. Its unassuming charm and unparalleled floral diversity make it worth the visit, a testimony to the incredible wonders that await those who seek them out.

“Kitulo may be unknown to many, but for those fortunate enough to discover its hidden splendour, it is an experience that lingers in the heart and soul long after the journey has ended,” Mr Kuji concludes.

VIRGIN CIRCUIT

A tourist will not regret choosing southern Tanzania as awe-inspiring attractions in the tourism circuit offer morale-boosting excursions.

Plateaus, waterfalls and wetlands are common sceneries dominating the vast wilderness and virgin landscapes south of Tanzania.

Besides Kitulo, TANAPA mans four other national parks in the southern circuit, including Nyerere, formerly part of the Africa’s largest Selous Game Reserve. All the national parks present an interesting blend of species of flora and fauna found in Eastern and Southern Africa. Open safari vehicles in use coupled with active predators enhance the exclusive game viewing experience.

NYERERE NATIONAL PARK

With an area of 30 893 m2 carved out from Selous Game Reserve late in 2019, Nyerere National Park is Africa's largest stand-alone national park with the largest concentration of wildlife animals.

"It is also a habitat for over 400 recorded species of birds."

Boat safaris differentiate the picturesque and pristine national park from others as many waterways provide a natural setting for game viewing and bird watching. Unique to this park are the walking safaris, offering an immersive experience into its diverse ecosystems and majestic landscapes. 4

www.theplannerguru.co.za MEETINGS l MARCH/APRIL 2024 • 43
#INDUSTRYINSIGHTS

BRENT LINDEQUE ON TRANSFORMING LIVES ONE POSITIVE STORY AT A TIME

Brent Lindeque, aka the Good Things Guy, is an inspiring writer, reader, radio host and keynote speaker who is known for positivity, uplifting stories, community improvement and meaningful social change. We are proud to chat with him in our first edition of #thelastword, which showcases professional speakers.

TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF. HOW DID YOU FIND YOURSELF IN THE INDUSTRY OF PROFESSIONAL SPEAKERS?

To be honest, I stumbled into the world of professional speaking quite by accident. My journey began with sharing positive stories on social media (10 years ago) and, before I knew it, I had created a website that became South Africa’s top good news site. I was then invited to share these stories on stage. It was a natural progression, really, from spreading good news online to inspiring audiences in person.

WHAT DO YOU SPEAK ABOUT?

I tell my story - how one thing changed my entire existence on this planet. How others can learn from this. I speak about the power of positivity, the impact of kindness, and the importance of finding the good in the world. I believe that we all have the ability to make a difference and I love empowering people to see the potential for good in every situation.

WHO DO YOU FIND BOOKS YOU THE MOST?

It’s so diverse - corporates are by far my biggest “booking” clients, but I am also booked by charities, schools and organisations. What’s incredibly interesting is that at the start of my speaking career, I was being booked mostly by agencies but now, clients are mainly booking

me directly. What’s insane is that I am now being booked to do talks globally as well.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT SPEAKING PROFESSIONALLY?

What I love most about speaking professionally is the opportunity to connect with people from all walks of life and to share stories that inspire and uplift. There's something incredibly rewarding about knowing that you've made a difference in someone's day or even their life.

WHAT DO LIKE THE LEAST ABOUT SPEAKING PROFESSIONALLY?

On the flip side, what I like least about speaking professionally is flying. I am petrified of flying. But it's a small price to pay for the privilege of doing what I love.

IF YOU HAVE ONE PIECE OF ADVICE TO GIVE TO ASPIRING SPEAKERS, WHAT WOULD THIS BE?

If I were to give one piece of advice to aspiring speakers, it would be to stay true to yourself and your message. Authenticity resonates with people, and it's the key to making a lasting impact. Oh, and don't forget always to be open to learning and growing – there's always room to improve and evolve as a speaker and as a person. Keep spreading the good vibes! 4

Do you have a speaker who you think would be great on #thelastword? If you do, please send a short bio of them - and their contact details - to: editor@4mal.co.za.

44 • MEETINGS l MARCH/APRIL 2024 www.theplannerguru.co.za
#THELASTWORD
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