Meetings January February 2021

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JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021 • Issue 94



CREATING A VÏB Experiencing SA’s newest and funkiest hotel MEETING PLACES

The online platforms you need to know about

ENTERTAINMENT + COVID-19 The impact of the pandemic on live events R55.00 (incl. VAT)

ISSN 1684-9264

Hybrid Space

Introducing the CTICC’s

Digital Events Offering

Transform traditional events into extraordinary digital experiences. FOR MORE INFORMATION Please call +27 21 410 5000 Email and quote “Digital Events” when making your booking Visit


CONTENTS The Planner


The Planner is growing its footprint – connect with us today!




09 Fancourt 10 Spier Hotel 11 Westin Cape Town 12 Wesgro 13 Resources



Thami Nkadimeng takes a step back to reflect


15 Hidden gem

Tucked away on the outskirts of Pretoria and

Meadow Manor is a prime example of venues doing it right.


16 Vaccination salvation?

A good Vïb


14 Plugging in

on some of her inspiring conversations and experiences.

recently acquired by serial entrepreneur Siyanda Dlamini, River


Pronounced ‘vibe’, Vïb Cape Town is a newcomer to the accommodation market and one of only four of its kind in the world. Meetings delivers the lowdown on what makes the hotel stand out.


Meetings explores how Covid-19

vaccinations might be the solution to opening our borders



and looks into the state of vaccination roll-outs in a few African countries.



Head above the water Meetings speaks to artists,

entertainers and businessowners to hears first-hand how they are hustling to ensure their acts stay alive.



Balancing act Meetings investigates what the future might

hold for each pillar of the MICE acronym.


22 Where there’s a will, there’s a way

Take a look at the

online platforms that are creating a viable and valuable space for the continuity of business events.



25 Monetise your virtual event RESEARCH + DATA

27 Dimensions of effective partnerships strategies Londi Khumalo of Niche Partners on why partnerships and collaboration are the lifeblood of the MICE industry.


FORMATS OF THE FUTURE Addressing the continuity conundrum In order to tackle the chasm created by postponed and cancelled events, could remote event planning and hybrid events be here to stay?

REGULARS 02 Ed’s Comment 03 Tidbits 26 20 Questions 32 Miss Meet


COVER STORY If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” Maya Angelou

Managing Editor Shanna Jacobsen ( Digital Editor Pippa Naudé Chief Sub-Editor Tristan Snijders Head of Design Beren Bauermeister Contributors Sven Bossu, Glenton De Kock,

Michelle Hinrichsen, Charlotte Kemp, Londi Khumalo, Greg McManus, Thami Nkadimeng Production & Client Liaison Manager

Antois-Leigh Nepgen

NEW YEAR, NEW VIEW It may be a new year, but the circumstances haven’t changed. So, while we still face uncertainty, it pays to adopt a mindset that means we can easily adapt and build resilience.


e can hardly believe a whole year has passed us by, and in what feels like the blink of an eye too! At 3S Media, we were fortunate to be kept very busy during 2020, and are lucky enough to have a good few projects in the pipeline over the course of the upcoming year. In this issue, on page 6, we look at some exciting innovations taking place within the MICE industry, which are creating a slew of exciting alternatives currently defining business events and ensuring objectives are met. Allied to this is the creation of safe havens in the form of bio-bubbles, which are aimed at providing all your staff, clients and patrons with a sense of reassurance. On page 9, we profile the venues and service providers that are getting this right. Turning to page 16, Meetings hears from performers and businessowners from across the live events and entertainment spectrum on how they have been impacted by the Covid-19

Group Sales Manager Chilomia Van Wijk Bookkeeper Tonya Hebenton Distribution Manager Nomsa Masina Distribution Coordinator Asha Pursotham Advertising

Vanessa De Waal +27 (0)84 805 6752 | PUBLISHED BY

Publisher Jacques Breytenbach

3S Media 46 Milkyway Avenue, Frankenwald, 2090 PO Box 92026, Norwood 2117 Tel: +27 (0)11 233 2600 Fax: +27 (0)11 234 7274/5 Meetings JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021 © Copyright All rights reserved 2021

pandemic. Further, we see how this industry might be part of the solution, particularly when it comes to managing mass vaccine drives. Read more about where countries such as South Africa, Mauritius and the Seychelles are with their vaccination roll-outs on page 18. Reflecting on how we as a company have managed to come so far has given me pause for thought and allowed me to take a step back to look at what has carried us to this point. Among this is the remarkable leadership we have been afforded, which has resulted in greater team cohesion. Without this solid leadership in place, it’s very likely we would not have gotten to this point. Collaboration will continue to be a means to survival, which we see coming through strongly from our associations in our Talking Points section on page 28. Lastly, Meetings peers into the crystal ball to understand what we can expect from future trends on page 20. Industry developments aside, if experience has taught me anything it is that – during times of strife – you need to have the right people at the helm who can provide your team with the direction, tools and mindsets needed to succeed.


SUBSCRIPTION R330.00 per annum (incl. VAT) | ISSN 1684-9264 Printers Novus Print Montague Gardens NOTICE OF RIGHTS Meetings is published bi-monthly by 3S Media. This publication, its form and contents vest in 3S Media. 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, 3S Media, 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.



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Meetings’ must-know minutia

Event safety designations formally recognised

In a step towards providing competency in sound risk management for events hosted on South African soil, two new formally recognised event safety designations have begun their roll-out. An initiative driven by the Southern African Communications Industries Association’s Event Safety Council, draft designations for both event safety practitioners as well as event safety professionals were gazetted in August last year and approved by the South African Qualifications Authority on 20 November 2020.

R1.2 billion Tourism Equity Fund launched A partnership between South Africa’s National Department of Tourism and the Small Enterprise Finance Agency saw the launch of the R1.2 billion Tourism Equity Fund in January 2021. With the aim of creating a more inclusive and representative sector, the fund will be used to support black entrepreneurs – women and youth in particular. Qualifying individuals can submit their funding proposals directly to the Department of Tourism.

Qatar Airways increases flights in Africa After becoming the first international carrier in the world to achieve a 5-Star Covid-19 Airline Safety Rating by air transport rating organisation Skytrax, Qatar Airways has committed to increasing flights to several African destinations, starting in February. The airline is also currently offering refunds and an unlimited number of date changes on tickets issued before 30 April and for travel taken by the end of the year.

Forced quarantine for SA travellers to the UK

Marriott expands global footprint

With South Africa being recognised as a high-risk destination, arrivals from the country to the UK will face a mandatory quarantine period that means isolation in a hotel for 10 days. This will come at a set cost of £1 500 (approximately R30 000) and be at the traveller’s own expense. Similar measures have been implemented in Australia. Ireland has also temporarily suspended visa-free short-stay travel from South Africa, with very limited exemptions.

Marriott International has announced its pipeline for 2021, which includes three new African hotels, all based in Egypt. These are the JW Marriott Cairo Mena House that will open in the last quarter of this year and be within walking distance of the iconic Great Pyramids, as well as the St Regis Cairo (pictured), together with the St Regis Almasa, located just outside of the hustle and bustle of the city.






Pronounced ‘vibe’, Vïb Cape Town is a newcomer to the accommodation market and one of only four of its kind in the world. Meetings delivers the lowdown on what makes the hotel stand out.


mbarking on a new venture during a pandemic takes guts but to see through the opening of a hotel that has been in the pipeline since 2016 takes inspiration from a very special place. Just ask Muslim Jaffer, the owner of Vïb Cape Town. “We have been working with Best Western International on this project since 2016 and are confident that our long-term vision and

investment in the first Vïb by Best Western in Africa is the right decision. Now that we’re open, we’re thrilled to be welcoming guests!” he says. Vïb Cape Town officially opened its doors for business on 21 December 2020 and its amenities are definitely not typical of your standard hotel stay – in fact, far from it! Setting itself aside from the rest, the Vïb hotel is home to the Jaffer Modern Art Gallery. Occupying the whole seventh

EXCEPTIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY MEASURES In accordance with the local regulations set out by the South African government – together with Best Western’s stringent health and safety standards – Vïb Cape Town adheres to the most rigorous hygiene and cleanliness protocols. Based upon guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and Health Canada, the We Care Clean programme addresses everything from guest room and common area cleanliness to streamlined processes that minimise contact between guests and associates, while maintaining the customer service you expect from a Best Western-branded hotel. This includes sanitiser dispensers that are provided in every room as well as contactless QR menus in the restaurant – extra additions over and above the required to add to each guest’s safety,


#VÏB BEAT THE ‘JANU-WORRY’ AND PLAN FOR FEBRUARY’S MONTH OF LOVE WITH AN IRRESISTIBLE VIBE! The first month of the year always welcomes measures that offer relief from those alltoo-tight purse strings, especially with February’s Valentine’s Day plans on the horizon.

floor, the gallery aims to promote established and aspiring pan-African artists to both the local and international markets. “Visitors will be able to enjoy a spectrum of works of various genres and media, from painting through to sculpture and ceramics. Being situated within one of Cape Town’s most vibrant global hotel brands will guarantee an audience for the art displayed,” enthuses gallery owner Shafina Jaffer.

EYE-POPPING As the first Vïb by Best Western in the southern hemisphere, with Signal Hill as its backdrop and breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean lapping the shores of Robben Island, the hotel is a dazzling structure that lacks no aesthetics. Situated conveniently close to the Cape Town International Convention Centre, V&A Waterfront and all major freeways, getting around is a breeze, which is made even easier with Vïb’s complementary shuttle service*. Rising eight storeys from the ground, Vïb Cape Town can be found in the cosmopolitan suburb of Green Point and comes complete with a rooftop pool that cantilevers out from the building across a distance of 25 m and overlooks

In addition to those typical start-of-a-new-year woes, January and February 2021 will be spent with lockdown restrictions in place, which means that we can’t enjoy the same recreational activities we usually would. This – combined with pandemic stress and constant concern for loved ones – means that many of us are still in need of a holiday! The good news is that it is indeed possible. If you’d like your partner to feel like the fairy king or queen from Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, then treat your Oberon or Titania to a budget-busting staycation at Cape Town’s ‘vibiest’ new Atlantic seaboard hotel. Vïb Cape Town is welcoming guests with a dinner-bed-and-breakfast special offer so incredible you’d be forgiven for thinking you were dreaming! The ‘Midsummer Night’s Vïb’ lets you and your favourite person enjoy a glorious staycation that’s easy on the pocket and geared to help you unwind. All this for only R1 300 in total – that’s a wallet-friendly R650 per person for dinner, bed and breakfast! The ‘Midsummer Night’s Vïb’ special offer was created to provide a desirable solution for a romantic Valentine’s Day getaway and is valid until 28 February 2021. Ts&Cs apply. Please quote ‘Midsummer Night’s Vïb’ with your booking request.

Our goal has been to identify and cater to every requirement of today’s busy, connected traveller, enhanced by one of the world’s most beautiful settings.”

Main Road. The aquarium-grade portholes at the bottom of the pool and plexiglass facade add both a safe and beautiful finishing touch to this attractive feature. For those curious to see what the hotel is about, pop in at Eye Bar – a stylish new foodie go-to with a contemporary menu. Located on Vïb Cape Town’s ground floor, Eye Bar comprises a cocktail bar, grab ‘n’ go coffee station, an indoor restaurant and open-air terrace. The venue is open daily to members of the public and guests of the hotel. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served, as well as tapas-style sharing plates. Outside of lockdown restrictions, the bar serves signature cocktails, wine, spirits and soft drinks.

Niall Bruyns, GM of Vïb Cape Town

MORE THAN A HOTEL With 76 eco-friendly rooms across six floors, Vïb Cape Town amenities cater for both locals in need of a change of scenery and for businesspeople on the move. Designed by Robert Silke, a well-known South African architect, the technology-centric hotel has been specifically created to meet the needs of today’s urban traveller. “Our rooms are designed specifically to provide our guests with every necessary comfort and convenience tailored to their specific requirements, including no less than an extra-length queen-sized bed, large-screen TV, generous bathroom with a shower, Nespresso machine, individual workstations with Herman Miller task chairs, and dedicated Wi-Fi access points in each room,” says Niall Bruyns, GM for Vïb Cape Town.



For those requiring additional IT security, individual ethernet cables are also standard across all 76 rooms – ideal for those in the techpreneur or start-up space. And with the ever-growing trend towards staying fit and healthy, Vïb has also built an on-site gym that sports the latest fitness equipment such as digital treadmills and ellipticals, as well as a weight-lifting bench and dumbbells. As part of its commitment to supporting all things local, the hotel’s South African guests will receive a local rate for bookings made directly through Vïb Cape Town.

*Complementary shuttle includes transfers within a 5km radius of the hotel, subject to availability. Transfers further afield are also available at a competitive rate.

+27 (0)21 180 2570


Addressing the CONTINUITY CONUNDRUM In order to tackle the chasm created by postponed and cancelled events, could remote event planning and hybrid events be here to stay? Meetings understands how this format could usher in a new era for MICE.


ather unfortunately for us all, the Covid-19 pandemic didn’t evaporate into thin air as midnight on 1 January 2021 rolled around. In countries such as South Africa, it only made its presence more deeply felt, with a second wave reminding us of the devastation and upheaval caused not just by the novel coronavirus disease, but also by the measures in place intended to mitigate against exposure to possible infection.

The reality of where we are currently is that we don’t have a fix on how long it will be until we are able to meet safely and comfortably in-person. Thankfully, there are options available to us to ensure business continuity, and this has also provided planners with the means to support their objectives. According to a Bizzabo survey, while 95% of marketers believe that in-person events will make a comeback, for event planners still mulling the benefits of hybrid, it is worth noting that 90% of marketers have plans to invest in virtual events. Their targets are most typically defined by attendee engagement and while hybrid and virtual events have provided a worthwhile solution for bridging the gap for large-scale in-person experiences, this comes with the added challenge of keeping audiences engaged.

ENGAGED AUDIENCES Before social media provided an added dimension to everything we do, it was deemed impolite not to pay full attention at an in-person


#FORMATSOFTHEFUTURE DELIVERING AN EXCEPTIONAL PRE- AND POST-EVENT HYBRID CAMPAIGN • Put a spin on content marketing • Take your social media marketing to the next level • Make your emails exciting • Scale your content through amplification • Gamification is a must • Touch base with attendees • Make it easy for attendees to communicate Source: SA Events Council event; however, because it has become more accepted for delegates to either tend to mail or post their eventing experience on social media, as planners, we should be accounting for a degree of inattentiveness. The most precious commodity planners and marketers seek at events is engagement with their attendees, which is in competition with delegates’ attention spans. From the attendee’s perspective, it is challenging to absorb the full extent of what is said, and even more so in a digital environment where your event unfolds in a different way. Audience engagement is easier to achieve during in-person events because it is a much richer sensory experience. Following a conversation that is streamed online or on another platform requires a lot of concentration, and with multiple devices and apps that have notifications firing off at various times, it is tricky to know how attentive each of your delegates is unless they are actively engaging and interacting – often doing so on multiple platforms in this context.

satisfies the majority. Platforms like BlueJeans, ON24 or SpotMe, for example, have enterprisegrade features that are suitable for most remote and hybrid events; they just need to be supplemented with a few additional tools… What you need to look for and acquire is a platform that’s technology agnostic. In other words, one that works well (or even seamlessly) with other solutions. You should be able to, at any point, add third-party integrations to your platform with ease. If doing so requires bespoke workarounds, you’ll spend more time managing the platform than actually using it,” says hybrid event specialists Interprefry in their Remote and hybrid event planning guide. Interprefy also provides a cutting-edge solution to deliver content in different languages with a widget that translates audio and video from the event in real time. “Most platforms don’t offer this capability as standard, so Interprefy plugs a huge gap in the conferencing space,” it says.



There was already an increasing demand for hybrid events long before the pandemic, and it was only a matter of time before these became a more conventionally adopted format. Now, with the right technology, hybrid events can be integrated across a number of platforms, giving these types of events access to a much larger potential audience. “Rather than opting for a web conferencing solution that satisfies one need, look for one that

For those who have a firm grasp on analytics and can formulate even a general understanding of how successful an event was in terms of audience engagement, it is a game changer. It might not immediately translate to rand and cents but for marketers, this is how they determine whether their ROI was worth the initial investment. Without breaking any privacy laws to obtain the information, the more details that the analytics

are able to provide for any given person on their engagement habits, the better. Paying attention to how we collate and interpret these analytics has never been more important – or valuable, especially during a time when as much as half of marketing resources are being reassigned. This means that we have to work harder than ever to justify budgets and spend, and without the unique insights coming from each event, it is a missed opportunity and one that we may not be afforded next time around. To supplement your insights, consider surveys and polls that can be deployed across all of your channels and platforms, either before, during or after your event, and consider sharing some of these findings with attendees explaining that your objective is to grow engagement, as this might also encourage greater participation in the future.

WHEN DO YOU PLAN ON HOSTING HYBRID EVENTS? Projections of virtual events from Q4 2020 Source Cvent



Don’t burst your (bio) bubble! The term ‘bio-bubble’ is one that we have heard much more frequently in the past year than ever before, and with good reason; creating a zone of safety that ensures any risks of contracting Covid-19 are mitigated as far as possible has provided the necessary means for business continuity for many venues and service providers. In this special instalment, Meetings hears from some of the top venues and destinations across South Africa on how they’re safeguarding their bio-bubbles: 09 Fancourt 10 Spier Hotel 11 Westin Cape Town

Located just outside George, in the foothills of the Outeniqua Mountains on South Africa’s Garden Route, Fancourt is a safe base for teams to meet, think and strategise.


here’s no doubt that Covid-19 has dramatically changed the MICE space, with venues having to adapt and evolve at a staggering pace. Peter Dros, sales and marketing director of Fancourt, believes that the estate is well placed to meet the needs and requirements of MICE clients in 2021: “The days of spending eight hours indoors at a conference or event are over. Organisers are actively looking for venues that offer an indoor/outdoor flow, flexible configurations that meet social distancing requirements, and spacious grounds for al fresco events.” In fact, the Fancourt estate might be the perfect ‘bubble’ for your meeting or event. Strict safety protocols (such as masks, health screening and sanitising) are firmly in place;

12 Wesgro 13 Bio-bubble resources


DISCOVER A SAFE BASE ON THE GARDEN ROUTE the extensive grounds offer plenty of scope for outdoor events, relaxation and fresh-air fun; and the spacious conference venues can deliver practical, seamless and socially distanced conferences (big or small) with ease. Even better? Delegates can explore the 613 ha estate, including nature trails, bike paths, an award-winning spa and a selection of restaurants – perfect for those who want to relax post-conference, or are ready to get

For reservations, call +27 (0)44 804 0010 or email

out and explore. The Fancourt team is also on hand to book big five game drives, boat cruises on the Knysna lagoon, an unforgettable beach braai, and, of course, a challenging round of golf on one of the estate’s championship golf courses, Montagu and Outeniqua. Ticking all of the boxes for safety-conscious travellers, Fancourt feels a world away from the stresses and strain of everyday life. A beautiful, safe bubble on the Garden Route.


MAKE SPIER YOUR BIO-BUBBLE HOME FROM HOME The village-style Spier Hotel is the perfect place for a secure bio-bubble hosting sports teams, film crews and other groups who need to live in an isolated, Covid-19-free ‘bubble’.


n response to the pandemic, Spier Hotel has increased its extensive range of hygiene protocols. It is proudly part of Stellenbosch Ready – a pledge committing it to the adherence of standardised health and hygiene protocols that have been validated by the World Travel & Tourism Council. Regular Covid-19 testing can be offered to bio-bubble participants by an on-site doctor, avoiding the need to travel to a testing location.

The size, scope and strictness of the bio-bubble can be adjusted according to the needs of the clients. Bio-bubbles can range in size: from a cluster of 8 to 18 rooms centred around one of the Hotel’s six courtyards, to the entire property currently offering 151 rooms. Flexible catering options range from a fully serviced farm-to-table offering and self-service canteen-style options to in-room dining. For bubbles booking the entire hotel, the restaurant is available on an exclusive use basis. In 2020, an international film crew made Spier its bio-bubble ‘home from home’. “We needed to isolate our crew and their staff for a total of 12 weeks – access controlled, no one in and no one out unless they were tested, quarantined and remained in the bubble,” explains Vlokkie Gordon, the CEO of Advantage Entertainment. “It was clear from the day we arrived that Spier management and staff were well aware of all the Covid regulations and what needed to be done to keep everyone safe, masked, sanitised and distanced,” she says, emphasising how seriously the staff took mask-wearing, sanitising and distancing rules. Managing a bio-bubble to a high standard is no easy feat, but Spier took it in stride, she says.

masks in place). “We even had a full-time beauty therapist that quarantined with us for special spoils!” she says. Spier’s bucolic setting and the village-style feel of the hotel with its courtyard pools are well suited to bio-bubbles. “We did not feel that we were living in a hotel, but rather our own little village somewhere in our own world. An added bonus was that each 8 to 10 rooms had their own private pool, which was a great help in spacing people out to enjoy the sun and swim in a responsible space. “Our stay at Spier Hotel demanded another level of commitment, as we were essentially 24/7 guests,” she says. To keep things running smoothly, she explains that the Hotel set up communication groups, Flowcode menus and production groups. “The Spier team kept us informed on all relevant matters and included the production team in all decisions that would have an impact on our needs. I can truly say that management and the staff went above and beyond what was required! We were blessed to have had the opportunity to spend this time at Spier and add them to our film family!”

Need to create a secure bio-bubble for your team? Look no further! Contact Spier Hotel sales manager Comien Grobler at

TAILOR-MADE SOLUTIONS Solutions were tailored to ensure the needs of the crew were met. From setting up an instant gym to hosting events for the crew on the beautiful lawns, pool parties and even a movie night (all with the regulated social distance and

10 • MEETINGS l JAN/FEB 2021



onveniently located just minutes away from the buzzing Victoria & Alfred Waterfront and just a 25-minute drive from Cape Town International Airport is the Westin Cape Town hotel. While adhering to the South African government’s health and safety regulations, and as part of the Marriott International Group, the cleanliness and care of the hotel’s guest rooms and public spaces receive particular emphasis. Through the Marriott Cleanliness Council and its Commitment to Clean initiative, which is dedicated to developing the next level of global hospitality cleanliness standards across its properties, the Westin aims to ensure the safety of all guests and associates. Guests will feel comfortable in one of the hotel’s 483 spacious rooms that include 31 suites as well as a presidential suite for VVIPs. The Westin also comes equipped with 19 function rooms, with a total meeting space 1328 m2, cutting-edge audiovisual technology and high-speed internet. All meeting rooms cater for setups that are in accordance with government regulations, where compliance with social distancing protocols is observed based on the current risk-adjusted lockdown measures. Marriott Bonvoy loyalty members can make reservations via the app, which also enables you to check in electronically and unlock your mobile key, ensuring contactless check-in. During your stay at the Westin, and in line with Marriott’s Commitment to Clean, the following protocols are in place:

SAFEGUARDING YOU A perfectly precise and secure hotel experience awaits at Westin Cape Town.

that surfaces are treated with hospital-grade disinfectants and that this cleaning is done with increased frequency. The company has also placed disinfecting wipes in each room for guests’ personal use, together with contactless sanitisers round the hotel in all public spaces. Enhanced cleaning technologies include electrostatic sprayers to sanitise surfaces throughout the hotel, together with air purifying systems that are effective against viruses in the air and on surfaces.



In public spaces, the Westin has added to its already rigorous cleaning protocols, requiring

To help alleviate the risk of Covid-19 transmission through person-to-person contact, Marriott hotels

HOW THE WESTIN IS GOING BEYOND THE CALL OF DUTY TO ENSURE THE MAXIMUM PROTECTION AND WELL-BEING OF ITS GUESTS AND STAFF: • Specific floors can be blocked off at the Westin hotel if need be and, with dedicated floors for groups of people, different sized bubbles can be created depending on client needs • With requests to work out of function venues and bedrooms, the Westin can accommodate medical teams and the proper setup of their equipment • Staff are easily accommodated on-site, which mitigates against possible exposure • On-site security at the property controls all access points • The Westin’s executive chef is on-hand with culinary teams to create bespoke menus for specific dietary requirements • The Westin is a two-minute drive from one of the leading Netcare Private Hospitals in the city, with 24-hour emergency rooms • The Westin has its own doctor on 24-hour call who can conduct Covid-19 tests, as well as two on-site private physiotherapists

use signage in their lobbies to remind guests to maintain social distancing protocols and will remove or re-arrange furniture to allow more space for distancing. The company has put in partitions at front desks to provide an extra level of precaution for its guests and associates, and has worked with supply chain partners to make masks and gloves available to associates. You’ll see more hand sanitising stations around Marriott’s hotels – near the entrances and front desks, elevator banks and fitness and meeting spaces.

FOOD SAFETY At Westin Cape Town, food handlers and supervisors are trained on safe food preparation and service practices. Food and beverage operations are required to conduct self-inspection using top food safety standards as guidelines, and compliance is validated by independent audits. The hotel is modifying its operational practices for inroom dining and designing new approaches to buffets. The Westin’s green status also sets it apart from other establishments in the Mother City. Some of its green initiatives include: population sensor lighting to save power; heat pumps to supply hot water, eliminating the use of heat elements; as well as biodegradable straws and packaging. “In the age in which we live, we simply cannot ignore the fact that our precious natural resources are being depleted faster and faster, before we’re even able to identify replacements or alternative methods. At the Westin, we are committed to introducing green initiatives to help save our planet and conserve it for future generations,” says Leon Meyer, GM of the Westin.




PROVEN TRACK RECORD The Cape Town and Western Cape conferencing and events industry has successfully demonstrated that it can resume business safely and responsibly – here’s how, says The Cape Town & Western Cape Convention Bureau.


he Cape Town & Western Cape Convention Bureau, a division of Wesgro, focuses on attracting business events to the destination. The unit generates leads and converts bids in partnership with local and international associations for conferences and congresses, while working alongside the private sector in securing incentive bids and new trade exhibitions. By adhering to all prescribed social distancing regulations, in addition to ensuring all delegates wear masks and sanitise regularly, as well as seamlessly shifting to a hybrid format – which involves delegates attending both physically and virtually to remain within the number of people permitted per venue or group size – Cape Town as a destination has successfully

demonstrated that it can resume business safely and responsibly. This has also seen the city successfully host a proof-of-concept event, and it was the Africa host for the annual ICCA Congress in 2020.

WORKING TOGETHER Supporting local businesses in the destination, Wesgro – in partnership with the Western Cape Provincial Government, the City of Cape Town and key stakeholders – launched the Covid-19 Content Centre (supportbusiness. prior to the nationwide lockdown last year. Serving as a dedicated online portal with interpretation of the latest government regulations, available business support and inspiring stories of business innovation and best practice, the virtual teams of sectorial and communication specialists are on standby

to assist the local business events sector and the greater value chain via their online office ( Furthermore, was launched by Wesgro’s Tourism unit, along with the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism, to provide visitors with up-to-date travel information, health and safety guidelines, and other interesting facts. Featuring safety news, FAQs and safety initiatives implemented in the province, the Safe Travels Cape Town site has been established as the go-to page for all visitors coming to enjoy the world-class tourism experiences on offer in the province. With the way we live, work and interact reimagined, one thing remains for sure: people will continue to travel to meet because it is in our human nature to congregate with others in an organised way, creating meaning to us as human beings. It is for this very reason that the face-to-face meeting will never lose its value. Cape Town and the Western Cape look forward to safely welcoming the many events, exhibitions and delegates to our world-class business events and tourism destination!

During the ongoing pandemic, employee wellness and peace of mind are paramount, so every layer of protection counts. Ideal for communal spaces, the EF-Active Mistizer is an innovative and proudly South African sanitising aerosol with 75% alcohol, which delivers a misty, non-toxic fogging spray for smaller enclosures like offices and boardrooms within 20 minutes… with just one click.


To safeguard your bio-bubble, THREE lucky Meetings readers or The Planner Guru newsletter subscribers stand a chance to win a Mistizer hamper by answering one simple question: Who is the sponsor of this prize?


Prize includes: 1x 225 ml Mistizer 1x 125 ml Mistizer 1x 250 ml Lemon Hand / Surface Sanitiser 1x 250ml Aqua Hand / Surface Sanitiser

Competition closes on 28 February 2021. Winners will be announced on 8 March 2021 and contacted prior. Send your answers to to win and provide the best way for us to reach you. Applicable to South Africa only. Ts&Cs apply.


Available at leading retailers.



Conduct a thorough risk assessment


Screen attendees prior to entry


Implement social distancing


nsure all staff are well and equipped E with the necessary PPE



ut in place capacity to handle an P influx of arrivals safely

The Event Safety Alliance Reopening Guide is the culmination of efforts that saw contributions from more than 300 professionals from across the length and breadth of the live events industry.


heck that venue facilities meet C government requirements

Steven Adelman, the Event Safety Alliance’s VP and head of Adelman Law Group, as well as the editor of the Reopening Guide, explains how this applies the legal duty of care.


Confirm that catering will be managed according to regulations


Develop rigorous cleaning processes


ncourage best practice in personal E hygiene of all staff and attendees


rain your staff and make sure that T communication is firmly in place


e in the know with the industry resources and tools that are available to guide you on the measures you need to have in place to create the ultimate bio-bubble.

“As a matter of common law, everyone has a duty to behave reasonably under their own circumstances. Consequently, there is no such thing as ‘best’ practices. There are only practices that are reasonable for this venue, this event, this crowd, this time and place, during this pandemic. Because few operational bright lines would make sense, the Event Safety Alliance Reopening Guide is designed to help event professionals think through their own circumstances. In the order that one plans an event, the Reopening Guide looks closely at the health and safety risks involved in reopening public spaces, then proposes risk mitigation measures that are likely to be reasonable under the circumstances of the smaller events and venues that will reopen first.” Within the guide, which is reviewed every six months, it is noted that guidelines from bodies such as the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control should also considered.

Source: SA Events Council

Although hard hit, the MICE industry is proving its resilience. It has demonstrated its ability to safely run events, with a number of proof-of-concept events clearly showcasing the measures that can and should be taken to create a bio-bubble zone.


• CDC • The WHO’s risk assessment tool for mass gatherings • Department of Health

EVENT SAFETY COUNCIL’S RE-OPENING GUIDELINES The Re-opening Guidelines are a solid reference for the South African events industry as they have been brought together by a number of local associations, in the form of the South African Events Council together with the Event Safety Council. The 73-page document provides steps that can be implemented for the prevention

and control of Covid-19 within the events industry, as well as key considerations for communication and the dissemination of information to the public. “The South African event community understands that events and gatherings have a direct effect on the transmission of Covid-19 from person to person. By developing and adopting best practice

guidelines throughout the events industry as a whole, we believe will provide a level of comfort to the government of South Africa and the public that reasonably practicable processes are in place to protect persons against the spread of and exposure to Covid-19 at events,” says the guide.




PLUGGING IN Thami Nkadimeng takes a step back to reflect on some of her inspiring conversations and experiences.


fair share of my time is spent on local and global stages – both virtually and physically – and in various industries having strategic conversations that have an impact across numerous facets. Among the benefits of being afforded such an opportunity is that it provides me with extensive and in-depth knowledge through the research I carry out prior to conducting these conversations, as well as lessons learnt listening to each subject’s views. Three days spent at a

sustainability conference in 2020 taught me that sustainability is no longer about green – it is about people believing they are partaking in something with legacy value. What legacy value is your product or service going to present? Meanwhile, during a human-resourcesfocused conference in November last year that I had the privilege of moderating, it struck me that it can no longer be about the money alone, and industries – especially those that are peoplecentric – must focus on integration to drive growth and development that supports the well-being of their people. We all need to pay attention to this point because the pandemic has thrown many a spanner into the works and highlighted the fact that a salaried individual is not necessarily fulfilled. Our roles demand a much greater contribution and the wellness you provide must filter through to your staff, clients and customers, and beyond. Being my home, and the first industry that edified my raw skills and assembled my talents, I have been wondering how the tourism industry, in particular, can benefit from these instrumental truths and insights. When tourism and other industries such as live events open up – and they will – we will be flooded by

an influx of high expectations that are likely to result in some of the workforce taking strain. Compassion towards employees is key here, as they will not get much empathy from customers. This is the time to start thinking about how you can build this into your culture to support them through any challenges they may face. It is inevitable that the next chapter of the tourism industry will be spent ensuring that establishments and sites are ready, with Covid-19 protocols in place. It is also important that the time is used checking that we are making provision for an influenced and changed consumer and employee.

THE FINAL WORD While delivering a talk to a group of young ladies recently, it dawned on me that people took this time to discover their talents. Allow your employees to lead without a title and, instead, give them the freedom to use their talents to better the offering of the business without it having to be accompanied by a job description or subject. You could be amazed at what may transpire. Over the next few months, I will continue to share some lessons from other industries I have been taught and continue to learn as I navigate through them. I will also seek out venues and experiences that I believe have started to incorporate some of these foresights in preparation for the full comeback. Reach out to me on thami@thaminkadimeng. com and let’s identify your legacy value! A moderator, MC and facilitator, Thami Nkadimeng is a message architect who creates impactful messages through both conversation as well as through nonverbal, written and visual communication. 14 • MEETINGS l JAN/FEB 2021


HIDDEN GEM Tucked away on the outskirts of Pretoria and recently acquired by serial entrepreneur Siyanda Dlamini, River Meadow Manor is a prime example of venues doing it right.


estled between the Olifant and Sesmyl spruits on the Twin River Estate, the River Meadow Manor (RMM) premises is home to a sprawling boutique hotel and a range of eventing options. RMM is a planner’s dream with its beautiful and versatile spaces that are situated on a property that once belonged to Jan Smuts. In its heyday, the 1926 manor house was used by Jan Smuts and his wife Issie as their entertainment home. Its heritage lives on today in a refreshing multicultural setting. The property falls under Siyanda Dlamini’s Level 1 BBBEE hotel management company, Tribute Hospitality Group. With a notable track record in the industry and as the sole owner of the hotel, Siyanda

believes that professionalism in hospitality is the key to its success. “With varied hospitality services and quintessential space for various occasions to match your style, standards, tastes and preferences, we have carved a unique niche of timeless elegance, and exceptional services embodying luxury and comfort for all our guests,” he says. With lush green lawns and towering oak trees, RMM feels like an authentic country escape, yet remains conveniently close to two major city centres and is just 20 minutes from O.R. Tambo International Airport.

MEETING EVERY NEED Situated in Irene, Gauteng, the property is also home to a multicuisine restaurant with fine dining and a spectacular open garden that caters to all types of functions. From its flooring to modern furniture, everything at RMM has been designed with keeping the creature comforts of the traveller in mind; with electric blankets provided in all rooms for colder nights and complimentary Wi-Fi, as well as a complimentary shuttle to all government departments within a 20 km radius, RMM prides itself on a personal touch when taking care of its guests. Last year saw the launch of an exclusive *250-seater glass conservatory, a *350-seater multipurpose conference venue, and a bespoke wedding chapel. In adherence with the

*Prior to the social distancing protocols currently being observed.


perspective, he is a focused leader dedicated to quality, efficiency and customer service.

Siyanda Dlamini is a celebrated South African hotelier and the owner of River Meadow Manor (RMM).

The RMM acquisition is close to his heart as it is the culmination of several of his passions: intimate and boutique hotels, community projects, interior decorating and landscaping.

As a highly accomplished businessman with 20 years of demonstrated expertise in the all-round management of hotel operations from both a business and leisure travel

government’s Covid-19 regulations, which have resulted in reduced activity, RMM has put its spa project on hold but boasts a variety of facilities, with five conference venues that can accommodate between 4 and *120 people, while its gardens are ideal for an al fresco breakfast, lunch or dinner. Guests can enjoy privacy in one of 30 luxury rooms while taking in the natural splendour of their surrounds that overlook the landscaped gardens lined with 100-year-old oak trees.

Follow Siyanda on Instagram @siyandasabelo for a detailed look into the man behind the RMM brand. For more information, visit RMM’s website




Meetings explores how Covid-19 vaccinations might be the solution to opening our borders and lifting restrictions on the movement and gathering of people, and looks into the state of vaccination roll-outs in a few African countries.

Vaccination SALVATION?


n under a year, the Covid-19 pandemic has changed our lives. Sadly, for more than 2.3 million people, their time ended suddenly and prematurely; in many cases, it has also resulted in prolonged suffering and the loss of quality of life. Not long after it became clear that the novel coronavirus was reaching epidemic levels, doctors and scientists began working on a vaccine. Epidemiologists also now suspect that SARS-CoV-2 will become endemic to humans, meaning that although vaccines can offer significant immunity against the disease and save many lives, they will not be able to completely eradicate it. While some have concerns around the longterm impacts of the current vaccines, the Pfizer, Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine trials, among others, have proven successful with no signficant safety concerns being reported. The challenge with where we are at this stage of managing the pandemic as a collective is that we are not all at the same place in terms of obtaining vaccines and administering these on a scale that achieves herd immunity. We see where some countries are with their vaccine roll-outs.


There are currently as many as 50 ongoing trials for the development of Covid-19 vaccines

16 • MEETINGS l JAN/FEB 2021

SOUTH AFRICA On 28 December 2020, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that South Africa would begin its vaccine roll-out during the second quarter of 2021 through the Covax Facility – which, according the WHO, is “a global initiative that brings together governments and manufacturers to ensure eventual Covid-19 vaccines reach those in greatest need, whoever they are and wherever they live.” Since then, government has confirmed that additional sources of vaccines have been secured. These are comprised of approximately 12 million doses from the Covax Facility, with another 12 million from the African Union. Meanwhile, 1.5 million doses were due to arrive from the Serum Institute of India, which is producing the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine but this has been put on pause with reports that this is not as effective against the South African variant of Covid-19. However, the country’s Ministry of Health is at an advanced stage of negotiation with local pharmaceutical company Aspen to produce 9 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is reported to be yielding positive results during the third phase of its trials across a group of 45 000 people. Local bodies and industry experts have said that these timelines are too late and will hurt industries such as travel and hospitality. “We need to bring South Africa in line with other countries that

have already started this process, so that the destination can be considered internationally viable. It is our view that travel will only return to some level of normality – and by implication our tourism and hospitality sector can only begin its recovery – when we start rolling out the vaccine programme in earnest. There simply is no other option but to fast-track the vaccine programme,” says Rosemary Anderson, chairperson, Fedhasa. Minister of Health Zweli Mkhize has, meanwhile, announced that South Africa’s 1.25 million health workers have been prioritised to receive the 1.5 million Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine doses by the end of February 2021. President Ramaphosa has also announced a three-phase plan to immunise 67% of the population – around 40 million people – to achieve ‘population immunity’. Phase 1 will involve vaccinating the country’s health workers, while Phase 2 will target the next most vulnerable groups of people (essential workers, the elderly, those with co-morbidities and those living in institutions), followed by the remaining adult population in Phase 3. Together with this, South Africa is also in the process of establishing an electronic vaccination data system as part of its roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines across the country. For more information and official updates, visit

#VACCINATIONROLL-OUT MAURITIUS On 26 January 2021, Mauritius officially launched its Covid-19 vaccination rollout programme, prioritising healthcare professionals and employees within the tourism industry, as well as senior citizens and those with underlying medical conditions. A key objective for the island nation’s government is the restart of the tourism sector in the safest conditions possible. Mauritius observes among the strictest Covid-19 protocols and is regarded as having one of the world’s best responses to the pandemic, scoring a perfect 100 on the Oxford University Stringency Index, which tracks government policy and action in addressing the Covid-19 pandemic. There has been little to no disruption of social life in Mauritius since June 2020, with almost no known cases of community transmission. As a result, the country has seen an increase in demand from visitors looking to relocate to a Covid-safe environment. The Premium Visa has been introduced for this purpose and allows for extended visits of 12 months, with an option for further extensions. Entry restrictions and quarantine requirements are expected to be eased progressively based on the evolution

SEYCHELLES On 14 January 2021, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Tourism, Sylvestre Radegonde, and the Minister for Health, Peggy Vidot, held a joint press briefing to announce the country’s two-phased approach to revitalise the country’s tourism sector as quickly and safely as possible. Phase 1, which is currently in effect, allows for two types of visitors to enter the country: • Anyone who has successfully completed the required dose of one of the four currently available Covid-19 vaccines, at least two weeks prior to travelling to Seychelles. These visitors will need to submit an authentic certificate from their national health authority as proof of vaccination, as well as a negative Covid-19 PCR test result obtained less than 72 hours prior to travel.

• Anyone travelling from a permitted destination (this list can be found at and may be altered as the pandemic develops) may still enter the country if they have not received a vaccination, as long as they

of the pandemic and upon visitors having achieved immunity. The ultimate objective of the vaccination campaign is to inoculate 60% of the country’s population of 1.3 million to achieve herd immunity. The first batch of the OxfordAstraZeneca vaccine, produced by the SII, arrived from Mumbai on 22 January as a donation from the government of India. Doses required to complete the vaccination campaign are expected from Oxford-AstraZeneca and Pfizer, with an initial consignment approved through the Covax Facility. From an official media statement issued by the Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority. For more information, visit /

produce a negative PCR test result obtained less than 72 hours prior to travel. Phase 2 will launch in mid-March when Seychelles should have achieved herd immunity through its National Covid-19 Immunisation Campaign. In this phase, all visitors are welcome to the country regardless of their vaccination status, as long as they are able to produce a negative PCR test result obtained less than 72 hours prior to travel. All existing Covid-19 health and safety precautions, such as wearing face masks and practising social distancing, will remain in full effect during both phases. Visitors are expected to comply fully with these regulations. This news item was originally authored by Pippa Naude and appeared on For more information, visit




Head above the water Forming a major part of the live events industry, the entertainment sector has been dealt an incredibly tough blow in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Meetings speaks to artists, entertainers and businessowners and hears first-hand how they are hustling to ensure their acts stay alive.


he past year has been a challenging one across the board – for some more than others. Live events, and the entertainment industry in particular, have been left so devastated that an impact study titled Impact Analysis: Live Music and its Venues and the South African Economy During Covid-19 says as many as half of workers from the live music industry may quit permanently. For Ross Learmonth, lead singer of popular South African rock band Prime Circle, Covid-19 has upended scheduled tours and live gigs. “Our entire tour circuit was shut down; tours and merchandise were prepped and ready, and it all changed pretty quickly. The industry had to get really creative. We did a few online shows, even did some Zoom shows. The new normal was upon us so we had to think on our feet, but it has been devastating – along with all of us losing our income, everyone else from sound guys to staging and lighting companies to venues are closing down under the strain,” he explains. Rubber Duc found themselves in a very similar situation to Prime Circle and, from the

moment social distancing was implemented, pre-lockdown in March 2020, 90% of their shows were either postponed or cancelled. The shows that fell outside the initial lockdown remained in place but, as the lockdown length extended, those too fell by the wayside. “As around 80% of our income comes directly from live shows, we suddenly had severe cash flow issues. For five months, we were completely out of work, unwillingly forced into unemployment in a sense, with very little help or support from government. Luckily, as a registered South African company, we were able to claim TERS. The scary thing is that many local musicians didn’t and still don’t have this small ‘luxury’,” says Rubber Duc’s Nick Jordaan.

STAGING AN INTERVENTION Samantha Kotze, a dancer and aerial acrobat who has been performing professionally for 20 years, including in shows such as Madame Zingara, says – while she is fortunate to have had a gig here and there during lockdown – her life was turned upside down.

Prime Circle, who are (from L-R) Dirk Bisschoff, guitarist; Dale Schnettler, drummer; Ross Learmonth, singer; Neil Breytenbach, keyboard; and Marco Gomes, bass

“There were some dark times, slow months and limited work in the past but nowhere near this extreme level. This New Year’s Eve was the first year in the history of my career that I was not working – it felt so weird and I just felt so out of sorts. I am also a qualified acrobatic and freestyle dance coach, so I had the opportunity to do some lessons during the better part of the lockdown situation but, again, I was not meeting my financial needs,” Sam tells Meetings. After facing the harsh reality of survival, Marcel Oudejans, a magician who has performed across the world, had to make the decision to take an indefinite sabbatical from performing. “The majority of the magicians I’ve worked with have lost virtually all their gigs – me included,” says Marcel, who has pursued an

(From L-R) Rubber Duc, who burst onto the South African music scene in March 2014, consists of Kabelo Morake, saxophone; Brendan Campbell, lead guitar; Nick Jordaan, frontman; Amiel Gopal, bass; and Nicholas McCreadie on drums

#LIVEENTERTAINMENT suppliers servicing big stage productions such as sound and lighting and technical crews would be very difficult to come by. This, says Justin van Wyk, CEO of Big Concerts, is what he is trying to prevent.

Marcel Oudejans is a magician who has performed across the world

alternative career in a digital space to bring in some form of revenue. “I now have contract work for website development and so have very little time available to manage any entertainment work until this blows over. I’m overloaded with work to do and spend hours coding,” he explains. For those without alternatives, like Ross from Prime Circle, it is really tough going. “Besides the online shows and online store, there is little that we can do; selling artwork, writing music, doing studio work… income has been scarce to none. An amazing idea that I have heard is looking into how staging and production companies could get involved in the roll-out of large vaccination drives, which could help on both sides,” he says. Ross is far from alone in that boat, which will, in fact, sink under the weight of the current load without proper intervention. If this happens, it will pose a serious and longterm threat towards South Africa’s oncethriving local entertainment industry, resulting in a much smaller talent pool. Aside from this,

RECHARGE 2020 In December 2020, Big Concerts together with The Entertainment Group delivered the Recharge 2020 event, where proper social distancing and thorough hygiene protocols were observed in accordance with the South African government’s requirements, as well as the SA Events Council’s industry safety guidelines. The experience also incorporated a Covid-19 testing component to ensure that everyone who attended the event tested negative for the virus. This was done through the Health Passport Europe app. Each attendee’s test results were linked to their personal profile, which was scanned as a QR code and would allow entry to the Recharge 2020 event only to those who had tested negative. Results were made available within 20 minutes of testing, privately and securely. What this means is that, as a proof-ofconcept event, Recharge 2020 can be used as a blueprint for how events can take place safely in the future, but for this to be achieved, all players need to come to the party. “Discussions with government will commence shortly, and we need to speak seriously about how we open the events, hospitality and tourism industries by making use of rapid tests and creating some sort of platform for verification. The vaccines, as we know, could take a very long time and it is very optimistic to have 40 million people inoculated before the end of the year. Ironically, what could help move along the vaccination drive is events,” concludes Justin.

Samantha Kotze, a dancer and aerial acrobat, has been performing professionally for 20 years

Give the vaccine roll-out and distribution to the events industry – we’re the ones dealing with tens of thousands of people at a time.” Justin van Wyk, CEO, Big Concerts




BALANCING ACT With opportunities within the business events industry precariously poised, Meetings investigates what the future might hold for each pillar of the MICE acronym.


he MICE industry has had a tough year that has been compounded by uncertainty. In South Africa, rapidly changing lockdown regulations are resulting in a stop-start scenario that has left event organisers and marketers facing significant business and planning challenges. Meanwhile, to ensure their survival, suppliers have been forced to streamline their operations to focus on generating revenue from aspects of their business that are still able to successfully function and turn over a profit, or diversify into something new to stay relevant. Unfortunately, all sectors that either bring together crowds or rely on the movement of people in large volumes have been compromised, with the MICE industry being no exception. (See how the live entertainment sector has been impacted on page 18.)

of a screen and have become more open and receptive to sharing their personal lives. It is impossible to work from home without some aspects of this being inadvertently shared with others in attendance – from family dynamics to our choice in decor. While this has ensured our connections are genuine, is it enough? Clearly not, but there are ways and means to remedy this. Top tips for engagement: • Include everyone in the discussion as far as possible. • Have comfort breaks to break up very long sessions. • Make it a point to discuss more general matters and personal well-being. • Break the tedium with light-hearted and inspirational videos.


Meetings are currently the most evolved pillar of the MICE acronym and this is as a result of the technology and infrastructure supporting remote face-to-face experiences already in place prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. This has meant it was only a small step for in-person meetings to fully transition into a digital environment. However, the downside (as many of us experienced during this evolution last year) is that the novelty quickly wore off after we were subjected to one call on top of another, with these unvaried events leaving us fatigued and unexcited. The human brain has a natural tendency to find ways to distract us or procrastinate when there are tasks that leave us underor overstimulated and feeling lacklustre. In sensory terms, it was only a matter of time before boredom set in. For meeting organisers, their job has become far more complicated than finding a suitable venue and arranging refreshments, where attendee inattentiveness and drop-off are real challenges. On the plus side, people are feeling a lot more comfortable in front


Possibly the liveliest part of the MICE acronym, incentives were the fastest growing market within MICE a year ago. From thrilling, once-in-a-lifetime getaways to personalised experiences that left delegates feeling pampered, incentives took centre stage as a means to endearing clients to a brand’s products or services and rewarding staff. A year later, elaborate, all-inclusive experiences are no longer on the cards. But in a world that craves personalisation, incentives haven’t completely fizzled out and are evolving. Gifting during lockdown has also become very popular, and gifting services such as those provided by Box-It&Co strive to create personalised experiences in a meaningful and touching way. Their offering is suited to a range of budgets and occasions, and comes complete with brandable, ecofriendly packaging. Double Dutch SA has taken it one step further to create engaging culinary experiences for delegates who can watch a session and receive ingredients at their homes and cook their own delicious meals using what they have been sent. Including an experience that delivers from a sensory point of

20 • MEETINGS l JAN/FEB 2021


Events and exhibitions have, regrettably, been overlooked during the lockdown, and exhibitions have unfortunately been bundled into the same category as mass social gatherings.”

view can make for a much richer meeting or conference. Top tips for engagement: • Create unique and memorable experiences – even if they are short, aim to make an impact. • Work on creating personalisation for both your branding and your desired target audience. • Avoid cheap and nasty gifting just for the sake of gifting.



While in-person conferencing started picking up towards the end of last year, current Alert Level 3 lockdown regulations have meant that these have had to be put on hold for the foreseeable future – again. The hard lockdowns that took place at the end of the first quarter of 2020 left conference organisers with very little choice but to cancel or postpone upcoming events. Companies like the HiSide Group had to think on their feet when one of their conferences was nearly cancelled but it meant that running future instalments of the event could carry a financial implication. “We had a conference planned for April 2020 with a budget of R3.5 million that couldn’t be postponed and had to be cancelled. We replaced the full conference with the virtual concept with a lot of fun and interactive trimmings, at a new cost of R850 000… If the objectives have been met and outcome satisfactory, what CEO is going to approve a R3.5 million budget next year?” asks John Ingram, director of HiSide. The current hurdle faced by many organisers is to embrace the aspects of virtual technology to ensure we can still create value and engagement through these sorts of events. “The challenge of earning an income from this virtual business will be tough. Not easy, but then what is?” mulls John. Top tips for engagement: • Find a reliable and stable platform host. • Explore ways to interact and entertain your audience.

• Keep sessions short and punchy. • Think out of the box.



Perhaps the hardest hit element of MICE is exhibitions. In-person expos and trade shows have been all but stifled by social distancing protocols and lockdown measures; however, towards the end of last year, Specialised Exhibitions, a division of the Montgomery Group, hosted the Restart Expo in partnership with the Johannesburg Expo Centre. “Events and exhibitions have, regrettably, been overlooked during the lockdown, and exhibitions have unfortunately been bundled into the same category as mass social gatherings. The Restart Expo was part of a strategic effort to unbundle this myth and show government officials and local municipalities that exhibitions and events are safely organised business gatherings,” commented Projeni Pather, chairperson of AAXO and a member of the SA Events Council. Virtual exhibitions have been explored but the uptake hasn’t gained the critical mass needed for this to be adopted into mainstream use and are, for the most part, still ironing out some technological challenges. Virtual systems are not as easy to navigate as some of the online platforms we have available to us to support meetings and conferences. So, if you have a particular range of products, services or innovations you want to showcase, you may need to give more careful consideration as to how you reach and impact the right audiences. Top tips for engagement: • Take the time to refine your audience. • Stay digitally connected with your audience in a meaningful and relevant way, but be careful to not inundate them. • Ramp up your social media activity.




WHERE THERE’S A WILL, THERE’S A WAY Stopgap, or here to stay? Meetings looks at the online platforms that are creating a viable and valuable space for the continuity of business events.


long with the Covid-19 pandemic, 2020 ushered in major changes to how we go about our personal and professional lives. This resulted in the entirety of South Africa’s business events industry’s value chain being turned upside down – and we are not alone. According to figures from S&P Global that looked at output across a range of industries between January and August last year, the airline, automotive parts and equipment, leisure facilities, oil and gas drilling, and restaurant industries were among the sectors most likely to default. Fortunately, for the MICE industry, it is one that filters into many other aspects of business and commerce and, as such, won’t face the same level of devastation as others. What it has brought about, however, is innovation, which has resulted in a significant push towards digital. Prior to the pandemic, many venues were already applying themselves towards how to develop an offering that could enhance their in-person experiences and increase the reach of these to anyone online. The pandemic has meant that these solutions have had to be fast-tracked to ensure the viability of important gatherings, which is being done with increasing success. To the right, we detail some of the platforms that are growing in users.

22 • MEETINGS l JAN/FEB 2021

ZOOM MAX PAX: 1 000 ANDROID PLAY STORE DOWNLOADS: >500 million ZOOM has been used with increasing popularity, particularly over the past year; according to Sensor Tower, the app was downloaded 300 million times in the second quarter of last year. The app is userfriendly and offers a range of features across its various plans, which start from a free basic plan that allows up to three users to have a 40-minute session. The cost of annual subscription licences varies based on either individual or enterprise needs and can include elements such as unlimited calling within Global Select, which comes with the optional add-on of unlimited calling to up to 18 other countries. Existing features such as the plug-in to your device’s calendars make sharing the meeting details (link, meeting ID and password) with attendees a simple process. Participants can also engage in the chat section and reactions. More technical features mean that you can have a transcript of your recording in addition to other personalisation like company branding and managed domains. Overall, Zoom is a responsive system that is easy to navigate as a first-time user. It streams well in real time, provided you have a decent internet connection and, despite not having all the bells and whistles from a design perspective, it delivers on functionality, usability and, most importantly, accessibility.


GOTOWEBINAR MAX PAX: 1 000 ANDROID PLAY STORE DOWNLOADS: >20 million (combined with sister app GoToMeeting) GoToWebinar is an online host’s dream… once you’ve got the hang of it. Without support and basic training, initially, it takes some clicking around to understand the parameters of the system; however, options are arranged intuitively. With a bit of determination, you will be on your way to setting up your own virtual events in no time at all.

ONLINE EVENTS CHECKLIST R Assess the viability of an online event for your particular audience R Line up speakers who are either already comfortable with your online platform or can learn quickly R Automate what you can, such as follow-ups to invitations and RSVPs R Create hype on social media R PRACTISE, PRACTISE, PRACTISE R Don’t neglect your post-event campaign – recordable events hold longevity

Events on GoToWebinar are created in a back-end portal that comes equipped with customisable invitations and include everything from colours to branding and sponsor logos. The system can send out invitations on behalf of your organisation and caters for essential RSVP management. Respondents can also be managed and tracked as part of a nifty plugin that means RSVPs can be exported and downloaded as a spreadsheet. Come time to go live, hosts, panellists, speakers and attendees all have a different experience of what they see on the front end. For attendees, they can join online without downloading any applications but this is recommended for optimum functionality; for hosts and organisers, the application is essential. The GoToWebinar system is secure, with unique links provided for each attendee who can enjoy an engaging session that allows them to raise their hand if they have a question and engage with other delegates using the chat function while the event runs. Sessions can be recorded and archived for internal purposes, and the system can also be automated to send out a link to the recording to all attendees, including those who may have missed the session.

STREAMYARD MAX PAX: Unlimited ANDROID PLAY STORE DOWNLOADS: Integrated for broadcast to YouTube Live (>5 billion), Facebook Live (>5 billion), LinkedIn (>500 million) and Twitch (>100 million) StreamYard provides organisers in the online space with the integration needed to simultaneously livestream to YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn and the more recently launched Twitch. The tech behind it also integrates into other event management platforms such as HopIn but with access to what are among the largest number of app users in the world, it is no wonder it is growing in popularity. StreamYard itself is a browser-based program and offers different options and pricing plans for every integration requirement – starting with its ‘free’ plan where you can stream to one platform. This also allows up to six participants, screen-sharing, on-screen comments and banners but it also carries StreamYard’s branding. Paidfor options don’t include this but vary in the number of platforms they can stream to as well as the recording duration. The quality of your stream also depends on the payment plan that is most suited to you, with the most expensive option streaming in full HD (1080p). This will invariably provide your audience with a bolder, richer experience but is also a consideration that is budget-dependent.



+27 (0)11 233 2600 is a one-stop platform for finding venues and suppliers. It’s where you can read the hottest industry tips and trends as well as source event planning tools and gain insight from valuable information in the MICE Hub. Plan your event by using the platform’s event boards and keep up-to-date with the daily newsletters. Use these resources to take your events from great to flawless. Packed with advice, handy tips, tools, checklists and event planning insight from leading industry experts and combined with the comprehensive listings, The Meetings & Event Planner is essential if you’re organising any type of event. Published annually.




Looking for new and exciting destinations? The Incentive Planner is jam-packed with fresh ideas and top tips to turn any incentive trip into a memorable experience. Out in March and September with Meetings. The Exhibition Planner is an essential tool for exhibitors. Information is packaged in an easily digestible format addressing the entire process of planning and arranging a show stand, what to do pre-show, during and post-show. Published annually.

The Planner


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. Meetings provides a platform for branding and promoting venues and service providers to the heart of the South African conferencing and event industries.

3S Media gives YOU the competitive edge as a MICE planner @theplannerguru


HOW TO MONETISE YOUR VIRTUAL EVENT Come up with enticing and competitively priced packages that your clients can’t say no to.



Draw up an inventory of all your available real estate across every single one of your various platforms such as newsletters, social media and your website. Seek to understand what content options and display offerings, such as banners, can be leveraged from these platforms.



Before you go in with a pitch, equip yourself with some creative options to whet your client’s appetite. Find ways to visually present what their campaign with you could look like and highlight the sort of reach they could achieve through this.



Look at how others in a similar role or function are utilising each corner of the space available on their platforms to understand what you haven’t covered, and how you can differentiate yourself. Compare your pricing options where applicable to ensure this is aligned to the market.



If your client doesn’t have in-house resources such as copywriters or designers, and neither do you, build a network of reliable external resources that you can outsource work to. Up the ante on value by ensuring the best bang for their buck and overseeing the delivery of a complete campaign.



Glisser, Cvent, EventMB and Endless Events all offer fantastic insights into current industry trends. All else failing, there are lots of freely available resources online but refine your search to specifics that will turn up information that is relevant and of value.



Market and promote your offerings where they’re going to get visibility. Make use of your own platforms first and consider a paid-for campaign only if the spend makes sense based on your projected ROI and targets.




Ntsikelelo Wiseman Dlulane, acting CEO of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, shares his thoughts on the MICE industry and personal take on life with Meetings magazine.

It takes a Wiseman

Where do you see the events industry currently?

What do you enjoy the most about what you do?

It is difficult to predict where we might end up with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic; however, should the situation improve, the events industry has an opportunity to be a major economic driver.

I enjoy meeting our objectives in ensuring the sustainability of biodiversity conservation and our natural heritage for the benefit of present and future generations.

Where would you like to see the industry in the next five to ten years? We need to be able to sufficiently manage the risks inherent in crowds being susceptible to possible viral exposure.

What role or influence do you believe your organisation plays in the industry? We provide space for event organisers in the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife protected areas, which enables visitors to enjoy the ambience, flora and fauna that our province has to offer.

What is the most challenging aspect of what you do? Striking a balance between biodiversity conservation and development.

What was the best piece of advice you ever received? Be bold enough to take decisions no matter the outcome, but be a decision-maker.

Who do you currently most admire and why? I currently most admire Judge Zondo, who, despite all the criticism levelled against him, has remained focused on the objective of what he needs to deliver.

What was your very first job? I was employed at a technical site agency during the construction of the Chief Albert Luthuli Memorial Hospital.

What drives you both personally and professionally? My personal drive is the desire to see positive change in people’s lives. My professional drive is to leave a legacy.

What are some of your career highlights? I have implemented major-impact projects that are people-centric and infrastructure-related initiatives. These have resulted in job creation, skills development and ownership of tourism facilities by previously disadvantaged rural communities.

Who were your role models growing up? Growing up, my role model was my grandmother – our family’s matriarch. She taught me lessons of persevering in the face of adversity.

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Outside my family setting, I admire Paul Kagame, the current president of Rwanda, for how he turned a country ravaged by civil war and genocide into one of the most admired nations in Africa.

Ntsikelelo Wiseman Dlulane, acting CEO of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife

What quote best describes your outlook towards life?

was the first time we went out as a group.

“Your past does not have to determine your destiny.” – Napoleon Hill

What are some of your ‘bucket list’ items?

What do people most often wrongly assume about you? That I am not a people person.

What values will you not deviate from? Remaining true to myself, respect for others, accountability, and empowering others to achieve their goals.

What is your favourite thing to do in your spare time? I enjoy spending time with my family, reading, and fishing.

I have a few! Flying first class with my wife to Dubai and taking my children to Disneyland, but also travelling to different African countries. And one day, I want to attain a PhD and contribute to the education of children from less fortunate families.

What is your favourite read? The Art of War by Sun Tzu. Other good reads include The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and Collaborating with the Enemy by Adam Kahane. What three items do you never leave home without?

What was your best holiday and why?

My cell phone, wallet and tablet.

I went on vacation to Ezulwini Valley in the Kingdom of eSwatini with my entire family. I got to spend time with them, away from all the pressures of work, and it

What is your most prized possession? My most prized possession is the knowledge that my family is behind me – they keep me grounded.


DIMENSIONS OF EFFECTIVE PARTNERSHIPS STRATEGIES Londi Khumalo of Niche Partners on why partnerships and collaboration are the lifeblood of the MICE industry.


esearch conducted by the African Perspectives on the MICE Industry report released last year revealed that 82% of the participants see collaboration as a revenue generating opportunity. Leading areas of collaboration in 2020 were shared value marketing across Africa, together with the development of African alliances across the continent and shared regional communication on safety protocols. No national or international events can take place without significant levels of collaboration and partnerships. And with its extensive value chain – across suppliers to client networks – nowhere is this more apparent than in the MICE industry. Since there are both opportunities and risks associated with collaboration, we must be careful of pursuing partnerships that exhaust resources more than they derive value, as well as partnerships whose value is one-sided.

DERIVING VALUE A McKinsey poll of 982 executives regarding their views towards risks for strategic partnerships found that the main concerns were “partner disagreements on the central objectives for the relationship, poor communication practices among partners, poor governance processes, and, when market or other circumstances change, partners’ inability to identify and quickly make the changes needed for the relationship to succeed.” Since mutually beneficial partnerships are significantly more effective and sustainable than those that derive value for a single partner, it is unsurprising that the research shows that successful partnerships require shared planning and continued care. Although the validity of the statement, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it,” by well-known management consultant Peter Drucker is widely debated, it definitely applies in our discussion of partnerships. In order to

have effective and sustainable collaborations and partnerships, they must be clearly defined and incorporate metrics to reflect on growth. Entering the second year of Covid-19 has meant reevaluating our own businesses and future plans. Here, the matter of collaboration and partnership will no doubt be imperative. The limited resources available in the industry and global economy necessitate careful consideration and collaboration to enable collective growth where it matters most.

DETERMINING EFFECTIVE PARTNERSHIPS Niche Partners surveyed useful tools we believe add value to the MICE partnership assessment process and found a research-based tool used for use in developing, assessing, and improving partnerships. Although developed for education, a tool called the Partnership Effectiveness Continuum will no doubt enable suppliers and clients to review and build on their partnership strategies. The Partnership Effectiveness Continuum, developed by the US-based Wallace Foundation, highlights six dimensions of effectiveness as follows: 1) Partnership vision 2) Institutional leadership 3) Joint ownership and accountability for results 4) Communication and collaboration 5) System alignment integration and sustainability 6) Response to local context. Using the rating component of the tool, we are able to gauge different areas of progress. I will briefly explore questions relevant to the MICE industry. Vision • Do the partners have a well-articulated mission and vision of the partnerships? Is it clearly

communicated and understood by all parties? • Do the partners have measurable shared goals? • Does the vision include strategic steps of who is responsible, what needs to be done and by when? Leadership and joint accountability • Is there shared accountability and decision-making? • Are leaders engaged? How is the participation level in meetings? • Are there joint resource contributions? • Are the performance measures and benchmarks clear? • Are the goals assessed for continuous improvement? Communication and collaboration • Does the partnership have clear communication channels and processes in place for internal and external communication? • Is communication timely and effective? How are the response rates? • Are the shared goals clearly communicated, as per strategy? System alignment integration and sustainability • Are there shared systems that enable data and communication alignment for all partners? • Are processes aligned across partners? • Are there clear memoranda of understanding across partners? Response to local context • Does the partnership serve the respective communities in which it operates? • Do partnerships influence relevant stakeholders?

Are you a MICE professional in Africa? Click here to join Africa’s client and supplier voices. We need you!




INDUSTRY VIEWS Constructive steps

Stop. Breathe. Think. Charlotte Kemp highlights some of the positive strides being taken in the industry to continue through the Covid-19 pandemic.


ust as our lockdown restrictions lifted in South Africa and we started to get going with events, other parts of the world tightened restrictions as the second wave of the pandemic hit. Now we are in the midst of our own renewed restrictions, and some of our businesses are not going to be able to survive an extended stop – period. It is disheartening to run a business in the meetings industry with our huge budgets and long lead times when legislation restricts our options and clients are reluctant to explore meetings events. But we need to hold on to the positive elements that have come out of this extended downtime.


CHARLOTTE KEMP is the Professional Speakers Association of Southern Africa representative to the SA Events Council.

A great deal of work has been done by members of the SA Events Council – a collaboration of associations representing elements in the meetings industry in South Africa – to demonstrate what the industry partners have done to create safe eventing opportunities. Several proof of concept events have been held to test the Event Safety Protocols adopted by members of the SA Events Council – the most recent of which was the Recharge 2020 event, held in Cape Town on 21 December last year. This proved the ability of event organisers to do Covid-19 rapid antigen tests in the lead-up to the event, for all interested attendees. Hosted by Big Concerts and The Entertainment Group, in partnership with Ireland-based Health Passport Europe, all participants had their test results reflected on a mobile app that allowed

for quick and easy access to a large public event. The logistics, planning and execution were possible, in part, because of the vast experience of the event organisers. And it is this realisation that we in the events industry need to hold on to. While our industry is in a weird space of pause or flux – where we find it difficult to work out how we can hold on to our business and keep, or find new, clients – we should use the time to take stock of what skills and experience we do have. Events professionals have unique skills, organisational experience, and the ability to project-manage vast, complex events. Let us add to that the ability to collaborate across organisations and teams to co-create the types of experiences our clients and audiences are looking for. We have not lost these skills during lockdown. Indeed, this is the time to reinforce these skills, build our networks and find new, creative and innovative ways to serve the needs of our clients, until such time as we can return to the way we all want to do business. The industry is collaborating through the SA Events Council; the more we engage with and support each other, the more likely it is that more businesses will survive this very difficult time and see a return to full-capacity events. Rather than stop/go, we should just stop, breathe, and think. Think about what skills we need for the future, new ways to collaborate and innovative ways to engage with clients so that we can be ready for new opportunities when we get the green light.

While our industry is in a weird space of pause or flux – where we find it difficult to work out how we can hold on to our business and keep, or find new, clients – we should use the time to take stock of what skills and experience we do have.”

28 • MEETINGS l JAN/FEB 2021


INDUSTRY VIEWS Driving impact

Pushing the right button The world of organised events is facing an entire suite of disruptions, with the pandemic being the imminent – but not the only – one, says Sven Bossu.


ike many of you, I have had my share of digital experiences over the last 12 months – both as participant and organiser. And, systematically, the experience improved. Evolving technology has been a contributing factor, but even more important was the fact that we recognise this new world for what it is and not what we wish it to be. Digital cannot replace face-to-face, so it needs to be used for what it can do. Technology, geopolitics, changing member behaviour, new business models, and climate change all have an impact on the way organised events will evolve. As a result, we will need to be very agile as an industry and use our different platforms – digital and physical – to enrich each other and provide a better outcome to both the organiser and the participant.



Digital definitely has its role to play, even when physical events are possible again, and it’s important to prepare for this reality. The starting point for successfully using technology is to carefully look at the organiser’s objectives. If you look at associations, for example, this is often linked to the mission or the purpose. And despite all the disruptions faced, the purpose of the associations is the one thing that did not change. Medical associations still want to improve the lives of patients, technology associations still want to create a smarter world, and business associations still want to stimulate trade. What is up for change is how this is done – the buttons to be pushed. Digital allows for connectivity in a world where travel will remain challenging for some time. And although Zoom does not come close to a face-to-face experience, it does enable you to talk to peers, share

knowledge, and take comfort in the fact that you are not alone in facing the challenges ahead. This is really the moment to carefully look at the different audiences and distinguish their varying needs.

INCREASED REACH Some audiences have remained unserved until now, because – for example for economic reasons – they could not make it to the on-site events; however, digital enables an organiser to be more inclusive. Not only can this extend the reach of content, but previously unheard voices are included, which enriches the conversation. Translating this input into output, amplified via digital channels, enables communities to grow – in both number and impact. Digital allows for (and sometimes forces) us to experiment. This is the moment to be bold and try things you would not have imagined before. Being open and transparent about this experimentation increases the likelihood that participants will join you on your journey. It will be like a cooking class. As we know, it is this type of journey that creates long-lasting friendships. Connectivity, inclusiveness and experimentation – digital allows for all of this and will enrich organised events going forward. The beauty in this is that there is no single solution, and it does not require a magical wand to make it happen. That said, there is one pitfall to avoid. Digital is vastly different from face-toface. Elements that have proven very successful in the physical world might be completely irrelevant for digital. Theatre is not the same thing as a television show – it requires a different approach, different management, different skills, and a different mindset. So, take the digital reality for what it is, not for what you wish it to be, and have fun testing it out.




INDUSTRY VIEWS It’s the small things

Simple steps to sustain our sector Greg McManus considers what we can do to help promote the sustainability of our sector while the pandemic wears on.


e have always defined ‘event greening’ as managing events in a sustainable manner, in which sustainability means social and economic considerations are balanced with environmental ones. Right now, the sustainability of the South African events industry hinges largely on social and economic factors, such as keeping people safe and healthy, while reopening as soon as possible so that we can all get back to work. This made me wonder: what event greening principles can we all adopt to help sustain our industry, even if just in a small way?


#2 TREAT PEOPLE WELL A huge threat to our sector is the loss of talent, knowledge and experience when people leave to find other jobs and start new careers. The concern is that, when events resume, who will be left behind to make sure they happen professionally? Holding on to your team might not be possible but treating them with dignity and respect is. They will remember this and maybe in the future you will be able to tempt them back.

#3 ALWAYS BE RESPONSIBLE If you are hosting or attending events, make sure you adhere to all necessary health and safety protocols to limit the spread of Covid-19. Aside from being the right thing to do for yourself, staff and guests, it’s the right thing to do for our industry. We cannot afford to jeopardise any progress towards a reopening. We all need to play our part.


GREG MCMANUS is chairman of the Event Greening Forum.

If you are doing business right now, the best thing you can do is seek out products and services from local businesses – and preferably event industry colleagues who are striving to be sustainable. We recommend referring to our membership base on, as well as, which is a free-to-use listing of sustainable solutions for events. If you’re not in a buyer’s position, you can still help these businesses by recommending them and endorsing them

on social media. These actions could help them land their next sale.


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INDUSTRY VIEWS Uniting our industry

#together We find ourselves in the eye of the storm but let us not forget that we are all in this #together, writes Glenton De Kock.


owards the end of 2020, our industry was building slow, but good momentum. We were gaining confidence in our ability to host business events safely but – like a typical south-wester from our beloved Cape Town – the wind was taken out of our sails a few weeks back as Alert Level 3 lockdown regulations were announced. The constant messages of ‘isolate’ and ‘keep socially distancing’ can make us feel alone but physical connections are not nearly as strong as emotional ones. We are not alone. You are not alone.


INDUSTRY VIEWS Positive intentions

In the midst of illness, isolation and economic devastation, 2020’s message was simply one of ‘be prepared’. With almost a year’s experience of how to live and work through this pandemic, we are able to: • collaborate as an industry by continuing the work of all association partners throughout the pandemic • provide activities and engagements that will lead to building confidence to drive demand as we did in the second half of 2020

Being a force for good In 2021, Travelbags hopes to inspire the industry to keep pushing ahead and innovating, writes Michelle Hinrichsen.

2 MICHELLE HINRICHSEN is the president of Travelbags.

021 has arrived and most who work in travel and hospitality were very happy to see the new year roll in. We have been working hard towards getting our industries back to some semblance of where they were previously. During December 2020, we were dealt another wild card, with Alert Level 3 restrictions limiting events and travel… again. This was a bitter pill for Travelbags to swallow; however, from the few events we hosted towards the end of last year, we were encouraged to see the fighting spirit of the industry we are a part of. Even though our industry has been knocked down, we have a community that wants to engage and wants to encourage.

FORWARD, TOGETHER We are incredibly uplifted as Travelbags to know that

• create innovation around how we deliver forthcoming business events in a sustainable manner in the context of the current restrictions we are required to work under • preserve and develop the skills that our industry needs to ensure sustainability of a complex but rewarding socio-economic contributor for South Africa. As an association, we have accepted that even with the most careful precautions, planning, preparing and meeting all the required health and safety protocols, the tidal wave of destruction caused by a global pandemic can only be mitigated and not prevented. During these challenging times, we must relentlessly prioritise and never forget what is most important in life: our health, our family, our friends, our faith, our pets, and our relationships with each other. To this end, SAACI is doing its best to protect our members and employees, and to help our community at large. And we will continue to advocate, lobby and collaborate to help our members through this difficult time.

both our members and non-members are wanting to push forward together to get the industry back on its feet. Travelbags is here for our members and for the industry, and we want to keep engaging with and encouraging the industry throughout 2021. We aim to be one of the stepping stones back to success. Looking ahead during 2021, Travelbags has events planned for the year – events that are dynamic in nature, which means we can take them online if need be. We are also an association partner with World Travel Market and we’re very excited to be a part of this nowonline event. The Travelbags committee is committed to engage with our members and non-members via our hosted networking events. We are still here – fit and fighting – we will get through these difficult times together as an industry.




Do your part Pandemics suck but there is still a lot we can do, so let’s get on with it, says Miss Meet.


lobal losses as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic are currently incalculable but are likely well into the tens of trillions. What we do know is that when all has been said and done, it will take years to recover – the World Bank, as an example, has said that the aftermath will negate any economic growth over the next decade, calling this the ‘lost decade’ starting from 2020. This, of course, doesn’t take into account the tragic loss of lives and suffering, which is not something to which we can assign monetary value. At best, the overall outlook is uncertain for the MICE industry but it doesn’t mean we can roll on to our backs and give up just like that! The way I see it, we now have an even more important role to play, and this is where we need to really apply ourselves to getting back on track.

HOW DO WE DO THIS? MICE experiences play an invaluable role within the economy and, right now, present us with a unique opportunity to amplify our

position by driving those discussions and becoming industry experts across a range of sectors. In order to move our industry forward, we need to find the means to ensure connections are established, critical conversations take place, and commitments are made towards changing the negative narrative and building a better future for all. During this time, let’s get innovative. Speak to your existing, as well as potential, clients about their meeting needs and identify ways in which you can support their objectives and create exceptional value for them. Just to add a cautionary word to this: shift your focus from making money to making a positive impact – sure, we all have bills to pay but if money is the only reason you are doing this, and is your sole goal, then perhaps you need to explore an alternative career path. Another aspect I feel warrants greater attention on our part is our ability to network and collaborate. A cohesive society is the tapestry that supports our existence and

Cape Town ICC


32 • MEETINGS l JAN/FEB 2021


protects our well-being; we know we are stronger together and, while survival on its own is challenging, the sharing of opportunities and knowledge has never been more important than during times of crisis.

WE’RE GETTING THERE If you have read this far down the page, you have also made it to a point in time where many of us have had to deal with the loss of loved ones and face personal and financial strife, yet, here you are… so don’t lose hope or focus. We all have a part to play in our recovery and, in order to create a strong network, we need to keep our eyes peeled for any opportunities on the horizon – not just for ourselves but for others who may need it. Lastly, a gentle reminder to be empathetic to the human condition; some may not be as resilient or determined as others to muscle through the impacts of the pandemic, and a little kindness and understanding during this time can go a long way.

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Conservation, Partnerships & Ecotourism

7 - 9 April 2021