Meetings March April 2023

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R55.00 (incl. VAT) ISSN 1684-9264 MOKUTI ETOSHA “We have decided to profile Africans who are pioneers in their professions, to show that our intellectual capital is first-world.” Zinhle Nzama Acting Chief Convention Bureau Officer at the SANCB not ‘business as usual’ MEETINGS AFRICA: Seeking solutions for catering + food waste MARCH/APRIL 2023 • Issue 106 Experience Africa Re-imagined BIG INTERVIEW THOUGHT LEADERS WHAT IS NEEDED TO ADVANCE AFRICA’S CONVENTION CENTRES?
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06 EXPERIENCE AFRICA RE-IMAGINED, AT MOKUTI Mokuti Etosha reopened its gates on 5 March 2023, following a 15-month refurbishment to elevate the property from a luxury safari lodge to an immersive experience of Africa’s finest natural assets. Meetings discovers more.

08 BIG INTERVIEW: SHOWCASING AFRICA’S EXCELLENCE The South Africa National Convention Bureau (SANCB) has launched a thought leadership campaign to highlight some of the exceptional talent that can be found in Africa, and to demonstrate that the continent has much to offer as a business events destination.

10 MEETINGS AFRICA 2023: CONNECTING AFRICA, CONNECTING THE WORLD Business tourism in Africa received a boost following the success of Meetings Africa 2023. The show’s refreshed look and bold new branding communicate at a glance that it is no longer ‘business as usual’.

12 WHAT IS NEEDED TO ADVANCE AFRICA’S CONVENTION CENTRES? The inaugural AIPC Africa Summit was a unique opportunity for Africa’s convention centre leaders to come together to discuss the challenges and opportunities they currently face. Meetings finds out more.


Building on its 15-year foundation of investing in sustainable solutions, the CSR ICC is your ideal partner in sustainable eventing.


3 emerging African MICE destinations to watch MEETING SPACES

22 The benefits of downsizing & a showcase of stunning examples

25 Meet in the Winelands, with Spier ALL



@theplannerguru The Planner @theplannerguru the-planner-guru
The Planner is growing its footprint – connect with us today!
28 The food waste problem 33 Soundbite 34 Food trends
Zero-waste case study
Tech tools that boost engagement 36 Social media: Engagement + analytics 38 A guide to experiential event design
5 ways to navigate tech during SA’s ongoing energy crisis
Q&A with Chef Louis van Reenen
bright for SA’s MICE industry
READ + CLICK + EARN CPD POINTS 06 16 28 34 38 35
TALKING POINTS 43 AIPC 44 AAXO & EGF 45 EXSA & SAACI 46 SACIA REGULARS 03 Ed’s comment 04 Tidbits 48 Off the record


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Change is the only constant

Looking at this issue of Meetings , it feels like change is all around –starting with our cover story (page 6): Mokuti Etosha has re-opened after a 15-month period during which it wasn’t simply revamped, it was completely ‘re-imagined’. Everything about it has been reconsidered and is now geared towards giving guests an exceptional experience that is authentic to the destination while also being a one-of-akind adventure.

We also bring you feedback on the success of Meetings Africa 2023 (page 10), which is evolving with the times, while our Big Interview features four brilliant Africans who are positively impacting their fields (page 8). The South Africa National Convention Bureau is profiling these trailblazers as part of their thought leaders campaign, in order to position Africa as a continent of innovators and the perfect destination to host dynamic business events.

Other interesting articles include a look at what challenges and opportunities Africa’s convention centres currently face (page 12), the complex issue of food waste (page 28), and tips and tools to boost event engagement (pages 35 to 39).


It’s an easy – and we hope enjoyable – way for those with a professional designation to stay abreast of industry news, developments and best practice trends. Go to page 47 to find out more.


And finally, another change is that, after a short and sweet stint as editor of Meetings , I’m handing over the reins to Lizette Jonker. My position was always a temporary one, as I have other plans waiting for me. Now that the perfect person has been found for the role, it’s time for me to bid farewell.

Lizette is incredibly qualified to take Meetings magazine to greater heights. With nearly 40 years working in various media roles (including with 3S Media), she has a wealth of both knowledge and experience, and she is brimming with ideas on how to make Meetings a better platform to promote, support and enhance the meetings industry. I’m excited to see what comes next!


ABC logo is a valued stamp of measurement and trust, providing accurate and comparable circulation figures that

I’m also excited to announce that readers of Meetings magazine can now receive Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points! Starting with this issue – and in partnership with the Southern African Communications Industries Association (SACIA) – readers who complete a short quiz and score 70% or more (essentially demonstrating you have read the magazine) will be credited with 1 CPD point.

I’d like to thank the talented and hardworking team I’ve collaborated with to get each issue published, not to mention the many contributors who have generously given of their time and insights, and of course you – the reader – for whom we do all this. I hope it’s benefited you and your business!

It’s been a privilege,

protect the way advertising is traded. Meetings is ABC audited and certified. ED’S LETTER MEETINGS MARCH /APRIL 2023 • 3

FEDHASA flips the switch to futureproof the hospitality industry

FEDHASA Western Cape – the provincial trade association for the hospitality industry – hosted its inaugural ‘Talking Energy with FEDHASA’ Summit on 3 March, bringing together industry stakeholders from the public and private sector to talk about South Africa’s energy crisis and how it is impacting the tourism sector and hospitality industry.

The summit came on the back of the announcement of a national state of disaster by President Cyril Ramaphosa in February, following more than 200 days of power cuts in 2022 – equalling more than half of the year – which resulted in 200% more blackouts than South Africans have experienced in any other year.

FEDHASA aims to influence policy- and decision-makers by lobbying government to help make South Africa’s hospitality industry more inclusive, while promoting job creation and the development of the sector. The summit focused on championing sustainable and long-term green energy solutions in the form of solar systems, storage batteries and inverters to help mitigate the impact of the energy crisis, while being environmentally friendly. Furthermore, it helped to educate the industry on the alternatives available through presenting case studies and creating a round-table open discussion.

South African’s top business travel destinations for 2023

Preliminary research from Corporate Traveller, a division of the Flight Centre Travel Group, has revealed the top international and regional destinations for South African business travellers for 2023.

“We’ve decided to have a close look at traveller behaviour, booking patterns, airfares and preferred destinations in January this year as an indication of what the rest of the year will bring us. We’ve noticed, for example, that advance booking behaviour has very much remained on par with 2022. Businesses are booking on average 15 days before travelling. What has changed, however, is the top five international and regional business destinations,” says Bonnie Smith, GM, Corporate Traveller. Their findings reveal the top five international destinations are, in order of popularity:

1. London, UK

2. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

3. Paris, France

4. Amsterdam, Netherlands

5. Mauritius

The top five regional destinations are:

1. Entebbe/Kampala, Uganda

2. Nairobi, Kenya

3. Antananarivo, Madagascar

4. Bamako, Mali

5. Lusaka, Zambia

“Corporate Traveller has seen strong recovery in terms of business travel with figures in line with – and even exceeding – 2019 levels. And with MICE travel, in particular conferences and events, back with a bang, we can expect an exciting year ahead,” concludes Smith.


Extraordinary reveals a new destination on the Panorama Route, Mpumalanga

Extraordinary, an esteemed collection of luxury lodges and hotels in Southern Africa, is delighted to introduce the world-class luxury hotel, Angels View by HoyoHoyo, in Mpumalanga. The hotel is located 5 km from the picturesque village of Graskop and in close proximity to the renowned Kruger National Park, Panorama Route and the many wonders of the province named after the Rising Sun. The Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport allows convenient access for domestic and international tourists. Weddings, events and modern conferencing are the order of the day, with the facilities including the spectacular Amphitheatre, glass marquees or a more traditional modern conference venue complete with the most up-to-date technology.

Angels View boasts a myriad of accommodation options, from the contemporary-styled superior and luxury panorama rooms to the 10 Earth Grotto suites, the four-bedroom Khoza House, and two one-bedroom suites complete with mini kitchens and private balconies.

The hotel facilities include the Grande pool deck, viewing decks, spa, gymnasium, library and plenty of lounge space in which to relax and soak up the unique setting. A trend-setting glass bar area, known as Café Ahe, completes the experience.

voco The Bank Johannesburg expands MICE offering

voco The Bank Johannesburg is expanding its MICE offering with the opening of a new conference venue on the third floor of Workshop17 The Bank on 17 April 2023. It won’t be your traditional classroom-style conference centre. Instead, the new aesthetically designed venue offers a fully flexible, ergonomic, 173 m² indoor space featuring the latest technology and on-site AV. It can be modulated as a cocktail, conference or even an intimate space for workshops or masterclasses with lounges and breakaway areas.

The new conference space complements the existing Workshop17 offering of a co-working space, a cafe and working bar, private offices, meeting rooms and members’ lounges. The building uses mainly renewable energy sources, such as a solar farm on the roof to power the building, as well as a heat recovery system that reuses the waste heat from the HVAC to heat water for the hotel.

Meet Batoka Hospitality, the first black female-owned safari lodge in Africa

Batoka Hospitality, a luxury ecotourism and community development group, is preparing to open the doors of its magical Zambezi Sands River Lodge in June, offering visitors five-star luxury in the heart of Zimbabwe’s rich natural landscape.

Just one hour from the magnificent Victoria Falls, the newly renovated resort is nestled in the stunning western end of Zambezi National Park and offers guests unrivalled luxury in one of the world’s most breathtaking natural settings.

The property offers 10 beautiful, tented suites, each with a private plunge pool and spectacular views of the Zambezi River. For those seeking greater privacy, a two-bedroom suite complete with a private swimming pool, lounge, a dining room and deck is also available.

In 2020, Batoka Hospitality acquired 100% ownership of the former Zambezi Sands River Camp and its sister attraction, the Gorges Lodge. Sustainability and local employment are at the heart of the resort’s mission, enabling guests to experience true African culture and hospitality with as little harm to the environment as possible.

Meetings’ must-know minutiae MEETINGS MARCH /APRIL 2023 • 5

Experience Africa Re-imagined, AT MOKUTI

Mokuti Etosha reopened its gates on 5 March 2023, following a 15-month refurbishment to elevate the property from a luxury safari lodge to an immersive experience of Africa’s finest natural assets – including its hospitable people, abundant wildlife, spectacular scenery, as well as deep and endless tranquillity.

Mokuti’ means ‘in the bush’ in Oshiwambo, one of Namibia’s local languages. And it’s true – while Etosha is famed for being the largest salt pan in Africa and visible from space, providing a striking sandy white backdrop to the roaming wildlife – Mokuti Etosha is an oasis of greenery. A mere 400 m from the gateway into the Etosha National Park, the expansive re-imagined lodge and its three sparkling pools are enveloped by trees and lush lawns.

With a 32-year heritage, Mokuti Etosha in northern Namibia is an established and wellrespected brand in tourism circles. Owned and managed by Namibian hospitality specialists O&L Leisure, a subsidiary of the Ohlthaver & List (O&L) Group, the luxury lodge is positioning its newly renovated and enhanced offering as ‘Africa Re-imagined’. This has created some exciting opportunities for exclusive experiences, corporate getaways and memorable team-building escapes.

Re-imagined. While we can find some familiar elements, we will at the same time encounter an enhancement that will lead to unique, different and warm experiences.”

He adds that every improvement has a story and a reason. This thoughtfulness is evident in every inch of Mokuti’s sprawling property. From the way the natural landscape and its colours inform the architecture and furnishing, as well as its new logo, to how the peace and tranquillity of this remote location are echoed throughout the




Norbert Wurm, managing director of O&L Leisure, explains, “Mokuti Etosha is Africa


property – from its cool rippling water features and uninterrupted views to the warmth and professional hospitality of the staff. Every sense has been considered, with even the scents and sounds being incorporated as enriching elements throughout the lodge.


Norbert shares that the true magic of the lodge lies in the experiences that await you.

For those seeking adventure, the lodge’s luxurious adapted game viewers provide a comfortable and contemporary way to observe the magnificent wildlife at Etosha National Park, with the highly recommended add-on of a sunrise breakfast or sundowners overlooking one of Etosha’s popular watering holes. Night drives and sky safaris are also available.

Bush walks with the indigenous Hai//om San people are another unique way to explore the surrounds, while they share their ancient wisdom and knowledge of the Namibian bush. Guests can also visit the Ontouka Conservation & Snake Park, with its daily snake shows, research projects and a huge focus on exchanging knowledge with and supporting the local communities. Here you can also talk to Namibia’s very own snake whisperer,

Other activities at Mokuti include a range of pampering treatments at Omulilo Spa (which also boasts a jacuzzi and steam room), selfguided walks to appreciate the beautiful fauna and flora up close and personal, or use of the fully equipped gym, tennis courts and multiple swimming pools.


The other experiences that Mokuti Etosha is proud to share are culinary ones. With live cooking stations, a charcoal oven, a barista station, and a Josper oven, guests have a choice of carefully crafted quality foods and beverages, all made with pure and organic ingredients.

Guests can indulge their preferences at three very different venues:

The Mokuti Oshana Pool Bar and Terrace offers light meals that combine local produce and traditional food – all with a special touch from the local Hai//om San.

The Itulye Restaurant has an à la carte lunch menu created by one of Namibia’s top chefs, Dallas Orr, and, for dinner, features an interactive buffet with various food concepts. The foods here artfully blend the local flavours and aromas of Namibia with international ones.

Along with these venues, the Enota Bar is the perfect space in which to end your evening. This contemporary safari bar offers an intimate setting, serving up exquisite fine wines and champagnes from all over the world.

Etienne Fourie, general manager at Mokuti Etosha, says, “Without giving too much away I can promise you that our food offerings are clever and re-imagined, and offer a blend of the flavours of Africa and international styling, with a twist of local custom.”


Etienne also draws attention to the O&L Purpose, ’Creating a future, enhancing life’, which has made conservation an integral aspect of everything that is done at Mokuti Etosha. This includes working closely with the local communities to support their economic development, while sharing knowledge on the value of protecting the environment and preserving the local biodiversity. Other conservation efforts to preserve the unique place that Mokuti calls home are also ongoing, to ensure this piece of paradise is preserved for future guests to experience.


Despite its remote location, Mokuti Etosha is easily accessible. Visitors can reach it either by flying with a charter from Windhoek to Ondangwa Airport (a 90-minute flight) and taking a shuttle to the lodge, or by private charter to Mokuti’s private airstrip. Alternatively, it is a fivehour drive from Windhoek.


While Mokuti Etosha’s inaugural opening will take place in May 2023, its doors are open and the staff are ready and waiting to welcome you to this transformative oasis.

To find out more, call +264 67 229 084, email or visit

#MOKUTIETOSHA @mokutietosha MokutiEtosha OLLeisure @mokuti_etosha
Francois Theart, conservation manager at Mokuti Etosha.



The South Africa National Convention Bureau (SANCB) has launched a thought leadership campaign to highlight some of the exceptional talent that can be found in Africa. The purpose is to demonstrate that our people are at the forefront of innovation, and we have much to offer the world.

Finding the best environment for a successful business event is not only about air connectivity and the available venues and hotels. Access to incredible speakers and skills is also critical to creating an enabling environment for ideas to flourish and spread, and ultimately to advance industries and economies, explains Zinhle Nzama, acting chief convention bureau officer at the SANCB.

“We have decided to profile Africans who are pioneers in their professions, to show that our intellectual capital is firstworld and our value proposition is more than just our infrastructure, amazing weather and hospitable cultures. In fact, we believe it is our ability to innovate and solve problems that makes Africa such an attractive business events destination,” she adds.

Here we introduce you to four of these thought leaders, who have partnered with the SANCB, and you’ll soon understand why the SANCB invites the world to ‘arrive intrigued and leave inspired’.


Award-winning Leading Applied Mathematics Professor at the University of the Free State (UFS) Professor Abdon Atangana is a highly soughtafter and critically acclaimed researcher and mathematician who has authored seven academic books, and has graduated 25 master’s degrees and nine PhDs, as well as several postdoc fellows across the global south.

Unexpected Change of Fortune

Born in Cameroon and raised by his grandmother, Abdon would go for days without food as his grandmother battled financially to keep him in school. Upon completing his first degree, he was introduced to his father’s side of the family and his uncle was appointed as his father. Overnight, Abdon went from being fatherless and financially disadvantaged to being the son of an ambassador.

Award-winning Derivatives and Equations

A differential operator/differential equation has long been used to replicate real-world problems and predict what will happen in the future. When

researchers were struggling with a particular derivative, Abdon recognised the problem and, in 2016, he introduced a new fractional derivative called the Atangana-Baleanu derivative. This is now being used around the world to predict future outcomes in varied fields such as physics, technology, chemistry, etc.

A Dream for the Future

Abdon was recently nominated as president of the African Union of Mathematicians – Commission of Research and Innovation, where he will organise conferences and work towards bridging the gap between academics and industry. BIG INTERVIEW


Professor and NRF-rated Researcher in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences at the University of Pretoria

Growing up, Professor Namrita Lall was introduced to the power of plantbased medicine, which launched her 10-year journey studying phytomedicine. Among other achievements, Namrita led a project on medicinal plants and tuberculosis at the University of Pretoria that identified a South African medicinal plant that could effectively replace antibiotic treatment in tuberculosis patients, preventing the negative side-effects antibiotics caused these patients. For this she was awarded the Order of Mapungubwe in Bronze by the Presidency.

African Phytomedicine Scientific Society

While working with students from around Africa, Namrita realised they lacked the resources, funding and facilities available to students in South Africa. This inspired her to launch the African Phytomedicine Scientific Society (APSS), to bring all the medicinal plant researchers together to network, share research equipment and transfer skills through student exchange programmes, and ultimately to produce quality scientific publications with commercial potential.

An SANCB Partnership is Born

The International Society of Ethnopharmacology (ISE) is holding a conference in collaboration with APSS on 23 October 2024 in Cape Town. The SANCB has been working with them to promote the event and provide much-needed funding and bid support.

DR KGAOGELO EDWARD LEGODI President of African Ophthalmology Council

Dr Kgaogelo Edward Legodi has dedicated his life to his craft. When he is not overseeing his passion project, Mpudulle (‘open your eyes’) Eye Centre, he is working at Mediclinic Medforum in Pretoria or striving to improve the ophthalmology service offering in South Africa and the rest of the continent.

Continuing the Legacy of Service

Hailing from Atteridgeville in Gauteng, Kgaogelo qualified in 2003 to be one of the very few black eye specialists (ophthalmologists) in South Africa. He had always dreamed of building a specialist eye


Executive Director at the South African Association of Public Administration & Management

Dr John Molepo grew up in neither privilege nor middleclass surroundings, being born in Soshanguve township. Despite this, by the age of 28 he had earned a National Diploma in Public Management, a BTech degree and became the youngest student to attain his PhD in Public Affairs. It was during his studies at the Tshwane University of Technology that he started his path to becoming an education activist through the Representative Council of Learners – work that was later recognised and awarded by the Presidency.

Championing the cause of the disadvantaged

John founded the Thusa Ngwana Geno (‘help your brother’) initiative, which has supported up to 600 students with tuition, registration fees and job applications. They have also refurbished schools, opened community libraries and centres with Wi-Fi connectivity, and more.

Collaborating with the SANCB

The SANCB has assisted the South African Association of Public Administration and Management with delegate boosting, on-site inspections and bid support. This partnership has helped bring significant conferences to South Africa, including the 41st Roundtable Conference of the African Association for Public Administration and Management, which was held at the University of the Western Cape in December 2022.

hospital. This stemmed from his grandfather’s work with the blind, and his diabetic grandmother’s deteriorating sight. Motivated by this, Kgaogelo and his wife (a fellow doctor) secured a licence and purchased the land to build an eye hospital in Pretoria North Ward 55. Mpudulle is a legacy and continuation of his grandfather’s work.

Partnering with the SANCB and Serving the Continent

In 2020, the SANCB collaborated on the World Ophthalmology Congress for their 2020 event and the partnership yielded great results. One of the proposed projects the Congress birthed was working with NGOs to train ophthalmologists in Africa. MEETINGS MARCH /APRIL 2023 • 9 #THOUGHTLEADERS


Business tourism in Africa received a boost following the success of Meetings Africa 2023. The show is owned by South African Tourism and delivered in collaboration with many partners and stakeholders to ensure regional inclusivity. As a result, the threeday trade event saw an estimated 352 exhibitors from 22 African countries and 362 buyers from over 53 countries converge at the Sandton Convention Centre, to explore business opportunities and close deals.

Zinhle Nzama, acting chief convention bureau officer for the South Africa National Convention Bureau (SANCB), says, “We are now post-recovery and are building back up. We believe this, the 17th edition of Meetings Africa, marks the start of a new era for business events on the continent and in South Africa.”

The show’s refreshed look and bold new branding communicate at a glance that it is no longer ‘business as usual’. “Meetings Africa has, for the first time, its own logo, which shows that this event has grown into its own brand with a strong brand identity. This new look has helped us to position Meetings Africa 2023 as a pan-African platform to advance the continent’s global standing and value proposition for the business events industry in this new era. This in turn helped us attract new stakeholders and renewed interest, all of which has added to the success of the show,” says Zinhle.


Zinhle shares that the SANCB worked hard to grow the show’s footprint of African countries for this event, with 22 nations from the continent being represented. She adds, “We were also very intentional about creating an event where Africans drove the agenda, and where Africans were finding solutions for Africa. We have the expertise

and we were determined to show this.” As such, the programme for the Business Opportunities Networking Day (BONDay) on 27 February explored a range of topical issues impacting the region. This saw, for example, heads of African airlines gather to discuss air connectivity challenges in Africa and propose solutions, while local tech innovators tackled how to unlock more value in Africa’s tourism value chain, and MICE stakeholders explored better ways to achieve sustainable development goals locally.

The message that this was an African event was also reinforced at every touchpoint throughout the event, from the African-inspired decor and furnishings to the catering and even the bomastyled session talks.


However, it’s not enough to simply bring Africa’s business tourism players together. A successful event needs to bring the right people together and facilitate business opportunities, which is why the theme for this year’s Meetings Africa was ‘Africa’s success built on quality connections’.

Zinhle explains, “This year, we wanted to create an environment that was conducive not only to creating connections, but to ensuring the highest quality connections were made. This meant



“Meetings Africa has exceeded our expectations. We met with old friends, we made new friends and new connections. We’ve been thinking that we are a small destination from a capacity perspective, yet we have had so many enquiries for those that fit into the infrastructure that we have, so we are looking forward to hosting some exciting exhibitions and exciting conferences in Zimbabwe.”

- Muchanyuka, chief executive at the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority

“The impact of Meetings Africa in the past has generally been quite great considering our business mix, which is predominantly corporate. Meetings Africa is a key trade show for our hotels and resorts, as it plays a key platform for new business from the region and complements well our sales and marketing efforts for regional and international business. We are looking forward to a robust exhibition, and consolidating the recovery from Covid-19 through impactful meetings, generating great leads for new and dormant business, while engaging existing business for new opportunities.”

- Temwa Kanjadza, head: Sales, Marketing & Distribution at Sunbird Tourism PLC (Malawi)

“Meetings Africa is a great event to showcase the magnitude of opportunities presented by the African continent. I am attending Meetings Africa because it helps me identify parties that we could collaborate with because the future of business tourism is all about collaboration and partnership. That’s the key to success which speaks to the theme for Meetings Africa 2023, which is ‘Africa’s success built on quality connections’.”

- Maggie Tan, CEO of Magenta Globe Pte Ltd (Singapore)

“The impact of Meetings Africa is that it will increase the awareness of the position and services The Mövenpick Hotel provides within the continent. Secondly, it will provide a platform for us to hear from the clients directly on how better we can offer these same services. I’m looking forward to connecting with MICE clients and agents from all over Africa, and to keep up with the current needs and requirement of the clients, as well as the upcoming trends in the MICE market.”

bringing the right profile of people to the show and maximising their opportunities to network effectively.”

This goal was achieved through several strategies. One was the continuation of the show’s strict qualifying process for hosted buyers. This ensures that all hosted buyers have an existing piece of business to place at the show, and that they are decision-makers who can close deals on the floor.

Another effective strategy was the SANCB’s onboarding of additional networking opportunities. Zinhle says, “This included pre-show networking, which we observed worked especially well. It allowed exhibitors and buyers to get to know each other prior to the trade show, so that by the time the exhibition doors opened they were ready to do business on the floor, and the 20-minute meeting slots were enough time to progress

any opportunities they had already identified. It’s something we will develop for next year’s event.”


Zinhle shares that the overall stakeholder feedback reveals a high level of satisfaction with the quality of the show’s exhibitors and buyers. And with 7 000 meetings confirmed through the online diary system – not to mention the addition of several networking events and encounters on the trade show floor – Meetings Africa did not disappoint on delivering healthy business prospects.

#MEETINGSAFRICA2023 +27 (0)11 895 3000 SouthAfricaNationalConventionBureau SA_NCB south-africa-national-conventions-bureau meetsouthafrica SouthAfricanTourism
- Kanana Kirimi, senior sales manager: Meetings and Events at Mövenpick Hotel & Residences Nairobi (Kenya) Photo credit: South African Tourism

What is needed to advance AFRICA’S CONVENTION CENTRES?

According to Dr Geoffrey Manyara, an economic affairs officer in charge of tourism for the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the African continent attracts a meagre 1% of international business events worldwide. This stark fact was discussed at the inaugural AIPC Africa Summit.

Sven Bossu, CEO of the International Association of Convention Centres (AIPC), says this is a challenge for the convention centres on the continent and needs to be tackled; “Everybody recognises that business events are crucial for trade, innovation and collaboration, and that the impact on the local community is immense – not only in economic terms.”

The AIPC Africa Summit was essentially launched for this purpose.


Taubie Motlhabane, CEO of the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) and AIPC board member, supported Sven to make the event a reality. She says, “A lot of questions came up during the AIPC Africa Summit that revealed a knowledge gap in terms of best practices for operational efficiency in convention centre management. It became clear that more education and operational development is needed for our convention centres.”

She adds that if operating standards are improved, clients will have more confidence that they will receive high-quality event delivery, which will make Africa extremely competitive at attracting more business events and meetings.

Sven agrees, adding that venues need to be recognised for these standards through audits, giving them greater credibility.

One hurdle is that – despite educational opportunities being available, with AIPC

itself offering several – many of these events and courses are held overseas and African convention centres don’t necessarily have the funding to attend.

“The cost of the flights, visas, accommodation and the actual programme can result in these opportunities and their benefits being inaccessible to many,” says Taubie.

This last point is why AIPC created an African Summit – “We flipped it round and brought AIPC to Africa,” says Sven. And it’s also why the South Africa National Convention Bureau partnered with AIPC and, with their funding,

the Summit could be made available for free, while being hosted at the Meetings Africa 2023 BONDay on 27 February where many convention centres were already in attendance.


A lack of funding creates several other challenges for African convention centres. Kenya’s Patricia Ondeng, acting CEO of the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC), highlights this as a constraint given the pressure to adopt new technologies (which can become obsolete quickly) and to find more sustainable operating solutions such as green energy, both of which tend to be expensive investments – yet which are essential to making convention centres more competitive.

Lindiwe Rakharebe, CEO of the Durban ICC, agrees that convention centre funding needs to be prioritised, “Business events can be categorised as business investments that can have a significant impact on economic growth and job creation for a country. Therefore, funding is a crucial component for the development of African conference centres, particularly when competing with larger, more established centres to attract big events. Subvention funding to attract business events is an important element for some regions that governments need to consider.”

The inaugural AIPC Africa Summit was a unique opportunity for Africa’s convention centre leaders to come together to discuss the challenges and opportunities they currently face. Meetings finds out more.
Taubie Motlhabane - CTICC Sven Bossu - AIPC


Another challenge Patricia notes is succession planning. “There is not enough capacity in the hospitality sector in terms of human resources at the convention centres. The new generation are not taking up hospitality training, so the old generation have few people to handover to,” she says.

A lack of skilled staff and talent due to the pandemic has no doubt exacerbated this.

Lindiwe also draws attention to poor infrastructure (including energy, road and rail transportation, and water) and security concerns in Africa as deterrents for potential clients seeking a host destination, while poor marketing and promotion could fail to attract the right clients.

An interesting point made by Joanne MwangiYelbert, chairperson of Kenya Tourism Board, during the Meetings Africa 2023 BONDay educational sessions, is that internationally people view Africa as one destination. For this reason, she argues that the African MICE sector should be selling Africa.

This tendency to group Africa into a single homogeneous entity is probably why convention centres have shifted their marketing strategies, with Patricia observing, “The marketing trends are changing. Convention centres are doing destination marketing as opposed to MICE and convention centre marketing.”


“The offer of venues in Africa is almost as diverse as the cultures, languages and landscapes. In that sense, it is possible for any organiser to find the venue that best meets the different objectives of the event,” says Sven.

He believes this is a huge opportunity, explaining, “In times when organisers are trying to create unique experiences in order to attract delegates, it is even more important to stress the diversity of the continent. What can be offered in Johannesburg in terms of experiences is fundamentally different from what is happening in Morocco.

“However, I also believe that it is up to venues and convention bureaus to do a better job of truly understanding the objectives of the organisers and coming up with an offer in line with these. Organisers are looking for partners, not for service providers.”

He adds, “The other unique opportunity sits with the growth potential of Africa in terms

of intracontinental trade, which is unparalleled and for which events can work as a platform and catalyst.”

Lindiwe agrees that the continent’s unique and diverse cultures are a huge asset, and that the economic growth and emerging

Patricia Ondeng - KICC
Lindiwe Rakharebe - Durban ICC Durban ICC MEETINGS MARCH /APRIL 2023 • 13

markets in many countries present valuable investment opportunities. She suggests that African conference centres form collaborative partnerships with other centres, as well as with local businesses and organisations, to help improve marketing efforts and increase awareness of what the centres and their destinations have to offer.


“I do believe the global community can learn a lot from the African venues when it comes to drive, service delivery and making people truly feel welcome. Personally, I was impressed by the positive energy of the people I met during my first-ever visit to South-Africa, despite some of the challenges faced – especially energy,” says Sven.

He believes the AIPC Africa Summit was a success, with approximately 50 participants and robust discussions about the some of the key challenges the sector faces, including resources, sustainability and energy. “It truly felt like an exchange of knowledge and best practices, both between AIPC and the participants, and between the participants themselves,” he adds.


AIPC offers various benefits to its members, which speak directly to the issues raised during its inaugural Africa Summit. These are:

• AIPC Quality Standards: AIPC’s internationally recognised audit is a trusted indicator of the quality delivered by venues.

• AIPC educational offering: educational opportunities are created through the AIPC academy as well as courses, summits and an annual conference.

• A global member network: the AIPC community allows the exchange of information and best practices, on both a global and local scale.

To find out more, visit


Your partner in sustainable eventing

The CSIR International Convention Centre (CSIR ICC) has been implementing various ‘greening’ initiatives for more than 15 years and is flexible and supportive of clients wanting to ensure their conferences and events have a minimal impact on the environment, shares Refilwe Nchebisang, acting marketing manager.

These efforts have been recognised with Silver Classification certification by the Heritage Environmental Rating Programme, a National Tourism Lilizela Award for Best Single Resource Management Programme in Waste, and inclusion as a best practice case study in the Gauteng Green Events Guidelines handbook.

Refilwe explains, “As one of the leading conference venues in the country, the CSIR ICC also understands its responsibility to proactively promote resource efficiency and sustainability in its operations for the benefit of the communities in which it operates.”

The impetus to be more sustainable is supported by the ICC’s mother organisation, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), which has stringent policies in place to comply with safety,

health and environment programmes. The centre is also regularly audited on these aspects by external auditors. Below are some examples of what the CSIR ICC is doing to be more sustainable.


The venue has become a signatory to the Net Zero Carbon Events pledge, and agrees to:

• publish the organisation’s pathway to achieve net zero by 2050 at the latest, with an interim target, in line with the Paris Agreement’s requirement, to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030

• collaborate with partners, suppliers and customers to drive change across the value chain

• measure and track Scope 1, 2, and 3 greenhouse gas emissions according to industry best practice

• report on progress at least every two years.


The separation of waste at source with a twin-bin system in the CSIR ICC’s venues and kitchens improves the centre’s recycling volumes and increases awareness of the amount and types of waste being generated.


The CSIR ICC’s building management system (BMS) controls the use

of heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) in the building. The BMS is scheduled to instruct the HVAC systems to operate only when venues are in use to minimise energy use. This intelligent scheduling results in tremendous electricity savings, contributing toward the ICC’s net zero goals.


The CSIR ICC has been contributing to capacity pipeline development by annually appointing inservice trainees who are studying towards relevant, industry-related qualifications, many of whom have been subsequently employed.

The centre also collaborates with partners, suppliers and customers to drive change across the value chain. For instance, the CSIR ICC collaborated with a local company MicGalaw – which upcycles discarded plastic into bags, chair covers and other accessories – thereby contributing to social development and reducing pollution.

The donation of surplus food and goods to local charities is another practice the CSIR ICC had adopted.


The CSIR ICC is in the process of implementing sustainable water management measures by installing low-flow water restrictors that are expected to save 90% of water usage. For more information, visit

Building on its 15-year foundation of investing in sustainable solutions, the CSIR ICC is committed to achieving net zero by 2050.



Kwakye Donkor, CEO of Africa Tourism Partners, has identified Ghana as an upand-coming African MICE destination. He says that while the nation’s marketing has largely positioned it as a destination for social events –“anchored on the successes it achieved through initiatives such as the 2019 ‘Year-of-Return’ and ‘December in Ghana’” – it has been extremely successful in growing the contribution of their MICE segment.

Ghana’s leadership is currently focused on improving the country’s infrastructure to attract larger MICE events in the future. This includes the government’s budgeting of US$2 billion (R36.7 billion) for the redevelopment of the Ghana International Trade Fair Centre into a modern mixed-use smart, green and sustainable commercial estate. This will include the development of a 12 000-seater convention centre with exhibition halls, followed by hotels, and other residential and commercial developments. The agreement was signed last year, and the project is expected to take three to five years to complete.

Ghana’s Minister for Planning, Professor George Gyan-Baffour, anticipates that the completed Trade Fair Centre will help to employ more than 10 000 people and generate an estimated US$150 million (R2.75 billion) worth of business annually.


Twenty airlines service Kotoka International Airport in Accra, the majority of which are

international carriers such as British Airways, United Airlines, Delta, KLM, Kenya Airways, Emirates and Qatar. Many fly directly from their home countries, while more destinations are accessible to Accra via Dubai, 8.5 hours away.

Ghana’s new national airline will soon join these carriers, when it launches in the third quarter of this year, 13 years after the country’s second state-owned carrier closed.

Ghana also has commercial airports in Kumasi, Tamale, Sekondi-Takoradi and Sunyani, and six domestic airlines that fly within the West Africa region.


The Accra International Conference Centre (AICC) is a popular multipurpose venue for business events, which was built to host the Tenth Ministerial Meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement. Since then, it has hosted major conferences and summits by UN organisations, including the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organisation.

The AICC has six halls, which can accommodate between 50 and 6 000 people. It has a press centre and audio facilities for simultaneous translation in five languages, while being close to Kotoka Airport and several upmarket hotels.

Meetings set out to discover new, emerging MICE destinations in Africa that are showing a lot of growth and potential. Here they are, in no particular order.



1 English is the language of choice for conducting business.

2 It has a thriving economy, built on agriculture, mining and oil and gas production, while the International Trade Administration adds that Ghana’s digital, financial services, education and franchising sectors are growing quickly.

3 Ghana has a tropical climate and is warm year-round.

4 The country boasts golden beaches, lush green forests and waterfalls, as well as a rich and interesting history dating back to 10 000 BC, all making for interesting sightseeing add-ons.

5 MICE Ghana has been established to support the growth of this sector (see for more information).

Additionally, several hotels in Ghana also provide excellent meeting facilities, such as the five-star Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City and the Mövenpick Ambassador Hotel Accra.


The capital city of Accra has the most accommodation options for visitors, including several four- and five-star hotels. Outside of the capital there are fewer high-end hotels – these tend to be limited to Kumasi and Takoradi, and some coastal resorts.


Ethiopia is another African nation that has set its sights on growing its share of the global MICE market. As such, the Ethiopia Convention Bureau ( was officially launched on 2 February 2021, and attended by President Sahlework Zewde and other key stakeholders.

At the launch event, the President shared the country’s 10-year perspective development plan to attract 7 million tourists, noting that MICE tourism development is necessary to help achieve this objective. To support this, plans are underway to build convention centres and increase investment.

One advantage to achieving this goal is that Addis Ababa already has several stateof-the-art meeting and conference facilities. This is due to it being Africa’s political capital city and serving as the headquarters for the African Union since its inception in 1963, as well as having the largest number of foreign embassies and diplomatic missions on the continent.


Ethiopian Airlines has leveraged its position on the horn of Africa to become a central hub serving more than 127 international destinations and 22 domestic destinations. This includes: 68 African cities; 26 European,

Accra, the capital city of Ghana The striking building that houses Ghana’s National Theatre Elmina Castle (also known as the Castle of St George) was built in 1482 as a trading settlement but was later used in the slave trade. Today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site

North and South American cities; and 29 cities in the Gulf, Middle East and Asia.

Travelling by air is also the best way to get around this large country. Ethiopian Airlines runs a reliable network of daily flights connecting Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa to other cities and towns around the country, including Bahir Dar, Gondar, Lalibela and Aksum.


The capital of Ethiopia has several large conferencing facilities, including the United Nations Conference Center in Addis Ababa (UNCC-AA), which offers 36 meeting rooms, a 2 100 m² of exhibition space, and additional spaces for networking, banqueting and receptions (accommodating up to a 1 000 cocktail guests). It is 10 minutes from Bole International Airport and next door to several three-to-five-star hotels, as well as several specialised UN agencies.

The development of the Addis Africa International Convention & Exhibition Center (AAICEC) is also currently underway. The AAICEC will have conference and meeting halls, two auditoria, a multipurpose hall, an outdoor performance area, and four large exhibition pavilions providing a total exhibition floorspace of 27 300 m². If the development stays on track, it should be completed in 2024.


Ethiopia has a growing number of international standard hotels, such as Hilton, Sheraton, Radisson Blu, Golden Tulip, Marriott, Hyatt regency and Ramada.


1 Visas are provided on arrival for all African counties, and e-visas are available to other nationalities.

2 As a travel hub and thanks to Ethiopian Airlines, it’s easily accessible.

3 Due to being the headquarters for the African Union, Addis Ababa has several conference and meeting facilities with high levels of experience in hosting events, and plenty of available accommodation.

4 The World Bank shares that Ethiopia’s economy has been among the fastest growing in the world for the past 15 years, partly a result of its public infrastructure investments.

A large crowd await the arrival of US President Obama on 28 July 2015, inside the African Union Conference Centre

5 Tourist attractions abound in Ethiopia – from its extraordinary landscapes and national parks to its historical cities and castles, as well as opportunities to meet unique tribal groups living in remote regions of the country. Visitors can also enjoy the country’s famed coffees, cuisine, and vibrant nightlife and music scene.

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital
The African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa



Located in a unique corner of the African wilderness where two mighty rivers meet to form a wetland paradise. Discover the wonders of this magical destination at the tip of Namibia’s Zambezi Region, formerly known as the Caprivi Strip, and immerse yourself in its serene elegance.

Nestled in the lap of nature on the banks of the Chobe River, Chobe Water Villas offer an impeccable front row seat to untamed nature. The exclusivity and style of this boutique Lodge are unparalleled.

This is a fully inclusive service offering with additional activities to choose from

that are guaranteed to further enrich your Namibian experience. Two boat activities per day are included in your room rate, assuring you double excursions daily.

Prepare to be immersed in the magnificent adventure that can only be ensured through the Chobe experience.


Game Drive Safaris Chobe River Safari Cruises

• Cultural Tours Victoria Falls visit

• Boat dinners and breakfasts


Flight of the Angels Fishing Charter

• 16-seat Board Room ideal for intimate and exclusive Meetings

253 602 | E | W



1 Several nationalities are not required to obtain a visa to travel to Botswana, while those that do can apply online for an e-visa.

2 The country is famed for its exceptional attractions, such as the Okavango Delta, the Kalahari, the Makgadikgadi Pans, Moremi Game Reserve as well as well-preserved rock art at Tsodilo Hills, not to mention easy access to Victoria Falls (via Zambia) and Namibia.

3 The country’s exclusive and sustainable tourism strategy has conserved its natural assets and makes for immersive bush experiences that are hard to find elsewhere.

4 Botswana has several well-appointed meeting venues and hotels, and is actively developing its MICE infrastructure.

5 Botswana is reported to be one of the safest countries in Africa.

Another African nation that Kwakye highlights as showing huge MICE potential is Botswana. With a thriving leisure tourism economy – which, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council, accounted for 95% of tourism spend in 2018 – the country has set its sights on expanding its MICE tourism footprint.

In 2020, Gobusamang Keebine, president of Business Botswana, said, “The MICE industry is an absolutely critical sector for Botswana to help alleviate unemployment. The President has gone on record saying he wanted to make Botswana a conference destination, and the MICE sector will ensure that this objective is realised.”

As well as collaboration with various private sector stakeholders to promote the growth of the local MICE industry, Gobusamang indicated that they are exploring the development of multidestination packages within Southern African to attract more visitors, inclusive of Zambia, Namibia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Botswana.


Botswana is usually accessed via other African countries, with four key airlines servicing the country: national carrier Air Botswana, South Africa-owned and -operated Airlink, Qatar Airways and Ethiopian Airlines. In addition, there are several private charter airline companies such as Wilderness Air and Mack Air that operate regularly in Botswana airspace – and even a new international luxury service, Fly Okavango, connecting London Stansted and Florida Palm Beach direct to the Okavango Delta.

International arrivals are possible at all three of Botswana’s main airports. Gaborone International

Airport tends to be a hub for business travellers, while Kasane International Airport and Maun International Airport deliver travellers to the doorstep of Botswana’s diversified tourist destinations. All three airports have undergone complete rebuilds over the last few years.


Botswana’s largest business events venue is the 35-hectare Botswana Conference & Exhibition Centre. Boasting a maximum capacity of 15 000 guests for receptions and 10 000 in theatre-style seating, it also offers 5 000 m² of exhibition space (or 240 shell schemes of 9 m²).

Another popular venue is the lavish Gaborone International Convention Centre (GICC) at The Grand Palm Resort in Gaborone. It can accommodate up to 1 800 guests and has two adjacent hotels: the Peermont Walmont is a luxurious four-star establishment with 188 rooms, and the Peermont Metcourt provides three-star accommodation and 149 rooms.

Several hotels also offer first-world meeting facilities. Among them are Minor Hotel’s Avani Gaborone Resort & Casino, Protea Hotel Gaborone Masa Square and several Cresta Hotel properties around the country.


Aside from hotels across a range of gradings, the northern tourism territory of the country has several luxury lodges and safari camps. Because Botswana has strict limits on the size, number and concentration of these, they all boast a truly exclusive safari experience.

Sunrise over Gaborone, the capital city of Botswana
(traditional canoes) are a popular way to experience the Okavango
In a semi-arid country, the waterways of the Okavango Delta attract an abundance of wildlife


Strand Hotel Swakopmund is the perfect venue for anyone wanting to explore Swakopmund in luxury.

Taste the wonders of Swakopmund with a fine dining experience like no other. Our three unique restaurants serve a delectable range of cuisines for even the most descerning of palates. Unwind to the rhythmn of the ocean in one of our 125 en-suite room. With 74 Standard rooms, 2 Enabled rooms, 40 Luxury rooms, 6 Junior suites, 2 Luxury suites and 1 Presidential suite

Our state-of-the-art business facilities are spread over an area of 440 m2, making them perfect for any gathering. The multifunctional spaces transform for convenience and ease of use, all the while serving a unique wave of rejuvenation.

Swakopmund is a great spot to partake in a range of activities from fun and thrilling to calm and relaxing activities.

T + 264 64 411 4000 I I

Intimate Meeting Spaces

Following the trend of holding smaller events, there’s a growing interest in smaller event spaces. Meetings unpacks some of the benefits of downsizing and brings you a showcase of stunning examples.

Bigger is not always better. Dahlia El Gazzar, Michelle Bruno and Liz King Caruso discuss the tendency to equate number of attendees with how good or successful an event is, in episode 31 of their Cut the Sh*t, Cue the Genius podcast. They question why this has become a standard benchmark for event performance, and the fallback planners use when discussing how well an event went.

Of course, a well-attended event is a positive achievement, and means its value proposition is relevant and resonates with people. But when you recall the best events you have been to, do you rave about the sheer number of bodies in the room? No – it’s far more nuanced than that, and quality often trumps quantity.

Here are some of the biggest benefits to hosting a smaller event.


The professional conference organisers we spoke to all agree that smaller events present better opportunities for more meaningful engagement. JP van Schalkwyk, director of Up A Tone Events, says, “While big events certainly have their

advantages, smaller events offer a range of benefits that cannot be overlooked. Smaller events are more intimate and personal, allowing attendees to connect with each other and the host on a deeper level. This can lead to more meaningful conversations, better networking opportunities, and a stronger sense of community.”

John Arvanitakis, CEO and founder of Chat’r, agrees with this sentiment, adding that attendees at small events will receive more personal attention and have more time to engage with others individually.


Ellen Oosthuizen, chairperson of the PCO Alliance Network and owner of Bebe Events, observes that attendees at smaller events tend to be more engaged and participate in all the activities offered. This could possibly be a result of the fact that planners can customise their programme and content to the specific interests of smaller groups.


Ellen also highlights that smaller events are easier to manage, which can present opportunities to

try more creative ideas and event formats, and also offer greater personalisation.

Plus, they present planners with a far wider choice of venue options – including more unique and unconventional spaces and event destinations, which again can add to the value of the event experience.


Another practical consideration JP notes is that hosting a smaller event can be more costeffective. This is a huge benefit in light of the increasing costs the industry is experiencing. It should also be easier to get full attendance at a smaller event, which means it carries less financial risk.


Last, but certainly not least, John draws attention to the sustainable advantages of smaller events. He says, “There is also the sustainable impact of smaller events to consider, which is far less damaging to the environment as their carbon footprint should be much smaller. It’s also easier to manage and ensure that the event is more MEETING SPACES
Infinity Restaurant, Hotel Sky Infinity Restaurant, Hotel Sky Hotel Sky

sustainably responsible in terms of its resource use and waste footprint.”


With all these benefits in mind, hosting smaller, exclusive events can clearly be a selling point, especially because they create an opportunity to turn up the value proposition being sold. This is even more important in 2023, as people have become more selective about which events to attend.

Anna Snoep, director: Operations at Inntel, a UKbased meetings, events, accommodation and travel management operation, says, “We are seeing that our [2023] prediction of ‘Meet Less, Meet Better’ was on the money. Our clients are meeting less but when they do meet, they do so in higher-quality venues and add value by adding dinners, overnight stays, team building and other activities. They are also combining meetings to reduce travelling time and the number of trips. The value assigned to delegate travelling and personal time has changed. It is essential that delegates feel that face-to-face meetings and events add value to their personal and professional development.”


If you are looking for a beautiful small (or big) venue for your next MICE event, visit to browse our extensive online venue listing. With a Southern African footprint, and searchable by type of venue, location and capacity, finding the options best suited to your needs couldn’t be easier. To give you a taste, here’s a small selection of venues we currently have profiled on the online venue listing on The Planner Guru:

Spectacular scenery & impeccable service


Cape Town, Western Cape

With world-class facilities, versatile meeting and event rooms, innovative catering options and the dedication of a professional, highly skilled team, the award-winning Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa presents a space to suit your every need and size

requirement. From conferences and executive business meetings to events and team building, our unsurpassed location, just 20 minutes from the city centre, flanked by the Twelve Apostles mountain range and overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, we guarantee our venue will be worth leaving your office for.


Thanks to its spectacular location, The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa offers several unique and inspiring venues, including scenic picnic spots, mountain walks and trails, a 16-seater cinema, a fynbos garden, with mesmerising views of both mountains and oceans, Cooking demonstrations with our Executive Chef, Wine Tastings with our Sommelier, helicopter transfers and sightseeing tours.

Eclectic & vibrant, in the heart of the city


Cape Town, Western Cape

Hotel Sky Cape Town is at one of the City Bowl’s best addresses, just 20 minutes from the airport, directly opposite the CTICC, and two minutes’ drive from the V&A Waterfront. With 535 beautifully designed rooms and suites, Hotel Sky Cape Town is the ideal destination for both local and international business and leisure travellers. In addition, two restaurants located on the 25th and 26th floors, a bar lounge on the 27th floor, deli, a state-ofthe-art fitness centre, two heated cantilevered outdoor pools, and a one-of-a-kind thrill-ride on the rooftop – the Sky-Hi Ride – all make this property an out-of-this-world experience.


Hotel Sky Cape Town has two intimate boardrooms and a gorgeous, multifunctional event space on its 27th floor.

Coastal calm & relaxation


Umzumbe, KwaZulu-Natal

Pumula Beach Hotel, with its stunning views of the Indian Ocean, provides one of the best seaside locations on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast. Charming and intimate, it provides the highest levels of personal service and excellent cuisine.

Besides the obvious attraction of neverending golden beaches, protected bathing, rock pools and excellent fishing opportunities, nearby amenities include a selection of wellknown golf courses, tennis courts, deep-sea fishing charters, ocean safaris, hiking trails and much more.


The two conference venues at Pumula are fully air-conditioned with fixed screens.

Atlantic Terrace Marquee, 12 Apostles Lion’s Head Conference Room, 12 Apostles Pumula Beach Hotel Pumula Beach Hotel MEETINGS MARCH /APRIL 2023 • 23


Available equipment includes overhead and data projectors, flip charts and a podium. They can accommodate between 40 and 140 people, depending on the seating arrangement.

An elegant oasis in the bushveld


Magaliesburg, Gauteng

Boasting 10 acres of manicured gardens and set among pristine bushveld, Mount Grace Hotel and Spa offers sweeping views of the valleys of the Magaliesberg mountains and is an ideal scape for the weary soul.

The sprawling property provides a wide variety of accommodation in addition to the finest country cuisine, while the tranquil Hydrotherapy Spa Garden features an outdoor jacuzzi, waterfall and flotation pool, which can be enjoyed for a nominal fee if no treatments are booked by the guest, and is the perfect backdrop for a short break or exclusive conference getaway.


Secluded from daily distractions, keep delegates focused while rejuvenating them at the same time. Choose from one of the 16 state-of-the-art

facilities on offer, with each providing privacy and tranquillity for your next meeting, conference or gala function. All spaces come equipped with AV and complimentary Wi-Fi, and with a dedicated in-house team to help ensure your event runs smoothly, you can make the most of your time at the beautiful property.

Old world charm


Johannesburg, Gauteng

Rand Club, the pinnacle of historical Johannesburg and an icon among the city skyline, offers a quintessentially grand and elaborate multipurpose venue. Filled with old-school charm, a grand façade and unique décor, Rand Club encapsulates a feeling from a bygone era, and now plays host to high-end, memorable events set in Johannesburg’s most exquisite Club.

Situated in central Johannesburg, the Gautrain at Park Station is just 2 km away, allowing ease of access in getting to the venue. Uber and Bolt also operate successfully in the area.


With 12 versatile event spaces available for hire, suitable for various event sizes from small intimate functions of 10 persons to large delegations of

over 300 guests in a single event space at any one time, Rand Club is the ideal setting for highprofile functions such as conferences, weddings, workshops and meetings to name a few.

The building itself is beautiful in every sense of the word. The marbled entrance greets guests upon arrival, where a sweeping grand staircase, seldom seen in this day and age, ushers visitors up to the second floor where the Main Ballroom is situated. Plush carpeting, delicate chandeliers and important works of art grace the walls, creating an ambience of the highest level of sophistication.

Boardroom, Mount Grace Hotel and Spa Conference Room, Mount Grace Hotel and Spa Mount Grace Hotel and Spa Rand Club Rand Club

Host your intimate meetings at Spier Wine Farm in the heart of the Cape Winelands and share in the team fun with unique farm experiences.

You work hard and get things done, but sometimes you just need a change of scenery to shift your thinking and hone your focus. Visit Spier, ranked within the top 100 vineyards in the world, and let the fresh farm air help you forget your office stress.

Situated in the heart of the Cape Winelands, Spier feels far away enough to find freedom on the farm but close enough to Cape Town International Airport – only 20 minutes’ drive – to keep you connected. Host an intimate meeting or presentation in one of Spier’s multiple intimate meeting venues varying in size (up to 30 guests), sharpen team dynamics through outdoor activities, or simply savour seasonal farm-fresh food and award-winning wines.


Spier Hotel offers 80 bedrooms clustered around six private courtyards. Every spacious room has a fireplace and is adorned with local art. Guests receive a complimentary glass of wine when they check in, a wine tasting voucher and a bottle of wine in their room on arrival.


Whether you’re after breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack, Spier has the freshest farm ingredients and seasonally inspired menus to satiate your taste buds. Choose the Hotel Restaurant for contemporary country cuisine or find a spot at the wine bar to meditate on farm life. Laze on sun-dappled lawns or alongside the dam as you tuck into picnic baskets filled with farm-inspired deliciousness, or grab your ready-to-eat favourites from the Farm Café. Vadas Smokehouse & Bakery offers a casual ambience with a keen focus on ethically sourced and healthily prepared food,

in the Winelands MEET

while The Manor House at Spier has recently been beautifully restored to host small, intimate food and wine experiences.


Gather the team and get ready for a day of action. Start with a brisk walk around the farm. You may want to add an audio-guided tour to learn about Spier’s art collection, its 300 years of winemaking heritage or its sustainable farming practices. Feeling competitive? Lace up your running shoes and see who can record the best time on the 5 km or 10 km trails. Get on your bright yellow Qhubeka Buffalo Bicycles to explore the farm together. Don’t fancy working up a sweat? Choose a Segway Vineyard Tour – a twowheeled, battery-powered ride to whizz around the Winelands – or embark on a collective journey into creativity and blend your own special wine.


Hosting your event at Spier will be an unforgettable experience for you and your team, while also supporting Spier’s Growing for Good initiatives, which empower local communities to unleash positive social and environmental change. With Time for Good, hotel guests are invited to get hands-on by planting trees, greening their thumbs in the Spier Food Garden, or preparing winter soup for the community. Whatever you choose, make it meaningful and memorable.


You may have work to do, but that doesn’t mean the family has to stay at home. Bring them along. There are plenty of activities to keep the kids busy, not least the fun at the Kids Clubhouse, which provides adult supervision

and a variety of developmentally appropriate activities for ages 3 to 12. From crafts to walking tours, treasure hunts and storytime, the little ones won’t want to leave. Spier has your partner covered too. Spa treatments, wine tastings, Segway Vineyard Tours, farm walks or curling up with a book beside the fire or pool –they’ve never loved your work trip more.


Whatever you need, Spier’s dedicated team will make sure you get it. To book your event or to find out more, visit, email or call +27 (0)21 809 1100. MEETINGS MARCH /APRIL 2023 • 25


1 What is your first food memory?

My mother’s beef and bean broth; the aromas filled the whole house.

2 Why did you become a chef?

I studied hotel management but was always drawn to the kitchen.

3 Can you name a chef who had a big influence on you and your career trajectory? There have been many great chefs that influenced me over the years. I have massive respect for Raymond Blanc, who runs a fantastic kitchen, has strong ethical values and continuously evolves.

4 What do you credit to achieving your current position as cluster executive chef? Good fortune, great mentors, a great team and a love for what we do.

5 How would you describe your cuisine? Simple, fresh, seasonal.

6 Which three personality traits serve you well in the kitchen? Passion, resilience and a small dose of madness.

7 What do you enjoy most about working in Melrose Arch? The whole precinct is a great space. It allows people to walk around, interact and find new spaces to relax. I love the diversity of our properties. African Pride is more formal, Fire & Ice! is very trendy and the Marriott is a proper big box international hotel.

8 What do you enjoy most about working for the Marriott hotel group? Marriott evolves all the time. We are always looking at ways to do things better, whether it is eliminating single-use plastics, serving cage-free eggs or our commitment to our people.

9 What life lesson do you strive to share with the chefs working under you? Question everything. If the rule does not make sense, suggest a better way.

10 How has South African cuisine influenced your menu and cooking style? We have so many influences in our cuisine. The more I travelled, the more I have realised just how many. I used to want to cook like the French chefs when I was younger; now I’ll be super proud if I can emulate my grandmother.

Louis van Reenen is the cluster executive chef for the Marriott Melrose Arch Collection of four properties. He escorts us into his world of food, flavours and event F&B.


• With over 20 years’ experience, Louis has a Diploma in Hotel Operations and Management

• Has worked in local and global brands namely Mövenpick Ghana, Boulevard Hotel Baku Autograph Collection, Westin Cairo, Southern Sun, Arabella Hotel Autograph Collection

• Excellent implementation of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP)

• He was part of the project team that successfully rebranded African Pride Hotel to African Pride Melrose Arch, Autograph Collection; has also received the WWF-SASSI Trailblazer Award for sustainable seafood sourcing

• Awarded the 2017 National Youth Chefs Training Programme Outstanding Workplace Award

11 Do you have a process when designing a menu for an event?

I always start with the guest in mind. A clever GM once told me, “Chefs are not educators, you are entertainers.’ I used to think it was my responsibility to teach people how to eat your steak (medium rare!); now I realise my job is to put a smile on your face.

12 What do you think makes a perfect event menu? A menu should speak to the style of the restaurant, the clientele, and the skill set of the kitchen brigade and the service team. Once you have mastered these, you can create magic.

13 How do you keep your creativity flowing in the kitchen? I keep in touch with other chefs. We often dine out and are always looking for small, independent restaurants and eateries. And I use social media.

14 How do you create opportunities to try new flavours and dishes? We have menus that change daily in some of our properties; we really play with those menus to try to marry different flavours, textures and ingredients.

15 What is your favourite dish on one of the Marriott Melrose Arch Precinct menus right now?

The prawn and bone marrow dish: great

bread, fresh prawns, the richness from the roasted marrow and the intense flavour of the chimichurri.

16 After a long, busy day, what is your go-to meal of choice?

My wife is a great cook. Her charcoalgrilled beef shawarma is a thing of rare beauty!

17 Which food trend are you the most excited about in 2023? The use of lesser-known meat cuts, resulting in less waste. Plant-based is also going to continue to become more popular.

18 Are there any previous trends that you are happy to see fade away into history? Rich, cream-based sauces.

19 How have consumer appetites and preferences changed since you became a chef? People have become a lot more knowledgeable about food. There was a time when chefs could hide behind foams and flavoured oils to make inferior dishes sound and look better. Now clients demand simple, ethical, honest food.

20 What do you think menus will look like at events in 2050? Plantbased, cell-based, lab-grown proteins. I believe natural meat products will become extremely expensive. MEETINGS MARCH /APRIL 2023 • 27 #MARRIOTT

The food waste PROBLEM

“The challenge is education in sustainability. People still want to overload their plates when they attend events, even though they won’t finish the food. It all then goes into the dustbins.”

In 2021, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) released findings stating, “An estimated 10.3 million tonnes per annum of edible food, earmarked for human consumption in South Africa, does not reach the human stomach. This is equivalent to 34% of local food production, but because South Africa is a net exporter of food, the losses and waste is equivalent to 45% of the available food supply in the country.”

This significant loss accumulates across all stages of food production. While harvesting, processing, packaging, distribution and retail account for much of it, James Khoza, chairman of Chefs with Compassion (CWC), believes the catering and events industry has a role to play too.


CWC is a volunteer-driven, not-for-profit company that was launched in May 2020 in response to the Covid-19 humanitarian crisis. Consequently, Chef James is acutely aware of the many South Africans who go to bed hungry every night. According to the 2020 National Waste Strategy from the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, this number is as high as 26% of our population – or one in four people.

To address this, CWC rescues surplus food that would otherwise go to waste and prepares nutritious meals to be distributed through its 30 beneficiary organisations. To date, CWC has served close to 5 million meals, and prepares on average 38 406 meals a week.

James believes that events are major contributors of food waste in South Africa. He says,

He continues, “Food and beverage experts do try to engage the organisers of events about educating their delegates on how not to be wasteful, and the dire state of affairs experienced in underprivileged communities; but still, it’s a struggle to convince our people on these social issues. Even if we come up with innovative ways to combat over-catering – like using small plates and action stations – the reaction is still a status quo. Delegates see value for money they paid being compromised, thus putting pressure on organisers to forego all avenues of combatting food waste in favour of keeping their attendees happy.”

Alan Browde, CEO and founder of SA Harvest – a food rescue and redistribution organisation that is also working to end hunger in South Africa –

Over-catering is a typical event concern, and one that can lead to unnecessary food waste. But it’s not the only challenge. Meetings explores the topic of food waste, and some of the ways to address it.

highlights that, when it comes to surplus food, a little can go a long way, “Every bit of waste counts, as every kilogram wasted is worth three meals to those who are not able to afford food on a daily basis. The 10 million tonnes of food that goes to waste every year in this country is equivalent to 30 billion meals.”


Wasting food while others go hungry is only part of the food waste issue. Both farming to produce food and sending food to landfill significantly contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, representing a largely unnecessary and avoidable acceleration on climate change. (Sadly, climate change is likely to worsen food security.)

In light of these problems, South Africa has set a target of reducing food waste and loss by 50% in 2030. But this isn’t a problem that we should leave to government to solve: we are all inextricably

linked to the issue, which means we all can have a positive influence on it – whether you are a venue, catering company or organiser.


The V&A Waterfront is leading by example in this regard. Ann Lamont, executive chair of the Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation, shares that the precinct has set a target to become carbonneutral by 2035 and is committed to the circular economy. To achieve this, it created a department called SOLVE@Waterfront, which is tasked with identifying opportunities to amplify the V&A Waterfront’s initiatives around for sustainability, opportunity and inclusivity.

She elaborates: “In terms of waste, we identified the hospitality industry early on as a strategic focus area because of its waste footprint. Our first step has been to carry out research with the chefs working at the V&A Waterfront. We have almost 100 food outlets in the precinct that range from fast-food joints to high-end hotels, and everything in-between, including canteens. We are working with all of them and, through surveys and focus groups, we are starting to identify the barriers and benefits to adopting a

zero-waste kitchen philosophy. These findings will inform the Zero Waste Chefs Training Programme we are putting together.”

What they have discovered so far, shares Ann, is that while most chefs are aware of the waste in their restaurant, they have not considered it from the point of view of the full value chain and where and how they source their ingredients. (“Small-scale and regenerative farming is best in this regard,” she adds.)

Therefore, the training will include where to start and stop thinking about the concept of waste – for example, using the whole vegetable or animal, as well as considering other types of waste such as reducing single-use plastic in food packaging. Another observation from their research is that there is a direct correlation between being busy in the kitchen and recycling rate drop-offs. The training will therefore also look at kitchen design configurations to see how to best include easily accessible recycling solutions in these compact spaces.

Ann adds that the chefs enrolled in the study are already benefiting from the experience; “There is now a greater level of consciousness and engagement in the issue of food waste. And this

The V&A Waterfront’s on-site waste sorting facilities MEETINGS MARCH /APRIL 2023 • 29
A food collection drive by SA Harvest and the Solidarity Fund A V&A Waterfront employee sorts trash to maximise the amount of waste being recycled

is driving change, for example many chefs are adding new suppliers to their supply chain. And chefs are sharing their knowledge and resources with each other. There is a far greater sense of what we need to do.”

While the research continues, the precinct already diverts 35% of collected waste from landfill, as a result of its on-site sorting facilities and waste monitors. “We changed service providers in October last year (thus changing sorting operations) and since then we have diverted over 680 tonnes of food waste from landfill. This, on average, is close to 90 tonnes per month,” says Ann.


The Mount Nelson’s Wasted! chef’s table dining experience is another great example of zerowaste menu design. (Currently on hiatus, the Mount Nelson has promised these dinners will return once the new executive chef, George Jardine, has settled in.) The concept is to use the whole fruit, vegetable, animal or fish – including typically rejected and unfashionable parts that would normally be discarded as waste – to create a high-end culinary dining experience. Examples of what has appeared on the menu include intriguing creations such as carrot-top pesto, trout-scrape tartar and trout tempura made from the collar of the fish.

These dinners weren’t only a way to minimise food waste in themselves but were are also a great vehicle to challenge people’s preconceived notions about what is edible, what tastes good, and what waste is. Harking back to James’ comment, event organisers could adopt a similar

approach and work with venues to devise appealing menus, paired with an explanation, that also start to challenge their attendees in a positive way.

Also worth mentioning are other, more commonly used, waste minimising strategies in the kitchen, which include making stocks and broths with vegetable peels and bones, or making jams and preserves to prevent fruit and vegetables from spoiling. As with the above ideas, these strategies should save costs in kitchens.


Of course, even when striving for zero waste, kitchens will always produce inedible organic materials like banana peels, eggshells, tea bags and used paper towels, says Melanie Ludwig, founder of the Organics Recycling Association of South Africa (ORASA). In these cases, treating them as a resource for composting rather than waste for landfill is the far more sustainable option.

There are various ways to create compost – from traditional composting methods with compost heaps to worm farms, black soldier flies or biogas digestors. However, because traditional composting is low tech, it tends to be the easiest and most costeffective option for most people, while still being highly effective.

“As much as 30-50% of waste that is sent to landfill can be composted,” says Melanie, adding that the benefits of composting are huge. For starters, you avoid the methane emissions that rotting food, without access to oxygen, produces in landfill. This potent greenhouse gas is far more damaging than the carbon dioxide produced from compost. (Interestingly, carbon dioxide generated from

compost is not considered a greenhouse gas –much like the carbon dioxide we exhale isn’t.) Additionally, we are running out of landfill space, and creating new ones is costly. Also consider the carbon emissions of thousands of rubbish trucks around the country hauling waste to landfill sites daily – most of which are far from the areas being serviced, with distances increasing as we search for new landfill sites.


Lastly, composting creates a valuable product, as it can help to grow more nutritious food. Melanie draws attention to the fact that petrochemicals are used to create fertilisers, so alternative sources of plant nutrition should be a priority in modern agriculture – especially when it is so readily available.

The One&Only, which is based at the V&A Waterfront, has prioritised improving its waste statistics, and third-party reporting indicates the hotel has almost halved what it sends to landfill – from nearly 79% to landfill in July 2022, to just 40.3% in December of that year. This includes the diversion of nearly 40 tonnes of organic waste from landfill and into various forms of composting, which it then uses for its on-site veggie garden. It is committed to continue reducing this even further.


And then, of course, we come back to the waste of surplus food, which is where entities such as CWC and SA Harvest have a vital role to play.

Mpho Mmasechaba at SwaraganoNPO in Alex made 600 litres of soup Nosh Food Rescue at the HTA School of Culinary Art Celebrity chefs Sasha Zambetti and Coo Pillay cooking soup from rescued produce, for Chefs With Compassion
An estimated 10.3 million tonnes per annum of edible food, earmarked for human consumption in South Africa, does not reach the human stomach.”

While many venues do donate excess food to charities, James adds that venues are often reluctant to donate food because they are concerned about the risk of litigation. “Unless government amends the legislation on prepared food donations, which currently holds the donor accountable for food that gets compromised at beneficiaries’ kitchens, we will not win the war on food dumped at landfills.”

However, he stresses that it is entirely possible for health and safety standards to be maintained when donating food, and encourages this route: “Venue chefs must separate the food according to food groups, vacuum pack it, label it and then freeze it. This allows the cold chain to be maintained on collection, sorting and distribution. A lead time must be agreed upon by both venue and CWC on collection. Volume is not a challenge if recommended stipulations are adhered to.”

SA Harvest operates a little differently, explains Alan: “Our challenge is that we collect in bulk, mostly no less than 4 tonnes at a time. The excess food after events – of course it depends on the size of the event – is not an efficient call for us. But we would never refuse a pick-up and would make a plan. So, if any event organiser wants us to help with delivering excess food to those in need, we would happily oblige.”

Another trend among venues is to informally donate surplus food to staff. While James applauds this, he adds that the best vehicle for food distribution is to use an expert such as CWC, because this ensures your food goes to the most deserving people without favour or bias.

Visit the ‘Resources & Tools’ tab on for more practical ideas on how to reduce event food waste. USEFUL RESOURCES • • • • • • • •
Citrum Khumalo, owner of Culinary Passions School of Hospitality, and his students assisting with soup preparation for the hungry The One&Only Cape Town has an on-site vegetable garden

ONE BLUE HEART SETS NEW STANDARD in sustainable eventing

One Blue Heart – a ‘first-of-its-kind, blue carpet, zero-waste dinner’ – was held at the One&Only Cape Town on 16 February 2023. In addition to being a fundraiser for turtle conservation, the event also showcased the environmental benefits and brilliance of zero-waste art, fashion and food.


The motivation to host a waste-free event stems from the damage that our everyday waste can cause – especially plastic waste in marine ecosystems. Since its inception, the Two Oceans Aquarium has rehabilitated and released over 1 000 turtles. More than half of these have been in the last four years under the care of the Two Ocean Aquarium Foundation Turtle Conservation Centre. Of these, 71% had ingested some form of plastic. One of the most severe cases received was an endangered green sea turtle who was given the name Bob. Bob’s injuries included a fractured shell and lacerations that had led to septicaemia, which in turn had caused brain damage and blindness. His condition was exacerbated by plastic ingestion that caused digestive issues.

When Bob arrived at the Two Oceans Aquarium, the vets did not think he could survive; however, following eight years of intensive rehabilitation, Bob was deemed ready to be released into the warm waters off the coast of Durban.

To support the Two Oceans Aquarium’s Turtle Conservation Centre, the V&A Waterfront decided to host a first-of-its-kind, zero-waste event to raise funding for the care of turtles like Bob and others that will come after him.


Sustainability was considered from all angles of One Blue Heart. For example, there was a slow fashion dress code that was accompanied by information on what slow fashion is to help guide those new to it. Many of the limited, ocean-inspired artworks on sale had a conservation message (including pieces made from ocean plastic). Even the table decor was zero-waste, as it made use of salt and seaweed (which can be composted).

And then, of course, there was the food. One&Only’s Chef Gianluca created a special zerowaste menu for the event, which focused on serving fresh, seasonal and locally sourced foods,

A glamorous fundraising dinner collected R530 000 for the Turtle Conservation Centre at the Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation, while ensuring that the event itself was a model of environmental responsibility.

as well as using the whole vegetable or animal. This included items such as sumac toasted squash seed, Brother Bees buchu honey chards, and stone fruit waste-not nectarine and semolina baked tart.

Gianluca says, “To waste food is to waste resources. Whenever we waste food, we waste energy, water and more. We need to have more respect for food and the processes involved to harvest, transport and package it.”

All leftover plated food was disposed of into the One&Only’s compost system, which will form compost for the properties on-site veggie garden.

To find out more about this exclusive, one-ofa-kind event – or for more ways to support the fundraising efforts of the Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation – visit


Your event, your way – every time!

With over 20 years of experience as a chef, Gallagher Convention Centre’s Chef Werner Blignaut offers a unique blend of leadership, vision and knowledge of the food industry.

Chef Werner Blignaut started out in a different career, but after his curiosity about all things food-related was piqued, he enrolled at HTA School of Culinary Art. On graduating, he embarked on an adventure to top culinary destinations where his love for and knowledge of cooking continued to grow. Now, just over 20 years later, he can be found creating delicious meals in the kitchens at Gallagher Convention Centre.

He says, “It is a fantastic career! Being a chef allows me to be creative and make people happier by making a lunchtime meal or dinner memorable. I know that my work is being appreciated. It can be highly rewarding.”


Chef Werner’s signature style is to combine traditional South African cooking with Asian and African influences. However, he is also highly adaptable, and says, “Our motto at Gallagher is ‘your event, your way’. We are delighted to customise a menu to a client’s theme and vision –we love designing specialised menus.”

He adds, “We always strive to make the experience unforgettable and stress-free for every client. We do that by offering solutions rather than challenges. For example, all our food is halaal certified, so we do not surcharge halaal meals.”


Managing a kitchen for the scale of events held at Gallagher Convention Centre can be challenging –

just consider their record of serving 3 700 plated meals in under 18 minutes!

He explains that achieving feats like this is all in the planning, saying, “The scale and volume that we often work with mean that thorough planning is of immeasurable value. Our entire operations team meets weekly to plan upcoming events. After the operations meeting, the planning in the kitchen starts for the coming week. Once all the mise en place [food prep] is done, the real magic begins to make the client’s experience memorable.”

The property has also planned for the possibility of power or water supply issues at any time, and it has a full generator backup solution as well as a million-litre backup water tank to ensure these risks do not disrupt any events being held there.


“The world is slowly returning to familiar paths and organisations are finally able to focus on what they do best again. For me, this is to create and perfect every dish going out of my kitchen,” Chef Werner concludes.


The Gallagher Convention Centre has launched an off-site catering division called GC3H, which offers a crafted range of delicious Eastern-influenced cuisine options. Specialising in the supply of prepared and certified halaal meals for corporate events, business meetings, luncheons, gala events and other off-site entities, this made-to-order solution simplifies specialised catering.

Choose from GC3H’s specialised halaal lines:

• Plated special dietary requirements

• Full-day conference packages (DCP)

• Platter selection

• Frozen food

For more information, visit MEETINGS MARCH /APRIL 2023 • 33 SOUNDBITE

Phe-nom-nomenal F&B


• Catering for different diets and allergies: From intermittent fasting and keto diets to coeliac disease, event planners need to be able to understand and accommodate special dietary requests. Equally, service staff need to be educated about what these different diets involve, and be clued-up about what ingredients are in the dishes being served, and what substitutions are available.

• No- or low-alcohol options: Tracy Stuckrath, a certified event planner and food and allergy expert, as well as founder of Thrive Meetings, says that 30% of Americans do not drink or will stop after one drink. This means it’s an underserved segment of the market that needs more exciting options than fizzy beverages or sparkling water. This is where de-alcoholised wine and spirits, as well as interesting mocktails, can fill the gap.

• Considering the effects of food: A greater awareness about how caffeine and sugar can affect our energy, mood and focus has seen a move to limiting them at events and serving more blood-sugarfriendly options. After all, no planner wants their delegates to feel tired and irritable. Hello berries, nuts, seeds and broccoli!


• Plant-based or heavily plant-focused menus: The World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF) shares that adopting a plant-based diet can reduce food-based greenhouse gas emissions by at least 30%, wildlife loss by up to 46%, and premature deaths by 20% (an interesting overlap with the healthy eating trend). This movement has seen consumers embrace eating more plants as well as meat substitutes like Beyond Meat.

• Looking at the food chain, farm to fork: Understanding where food comes from, how it was produced, and what is being done by the producer to achieve a net-zero emissions target are becoming important considerations for F&B when sourcing ingredients.

• Cutting down on waste: A WWF report reveals that roughly a third of all food produced in South Africa is wasted. In finding ways to reduce waste, chefs are looking at how to serve ‘nose to tail’ meat dishes (including the typically less desirable organ meat), as well as ways to serve food to cut down on waste – such as using ‘family table’ setups, where guests can help themselves from large bowls set out at each table.


• Hyper-local ingredient sourcing: While necessity during lockdown might have driven people to purchase more locally produced goods, it’s a practice that has gained popularity because of its sustainable benefits while also helping to support local farmers and businesses. Many venues now have a policy on sourcing ingredients from within a specified kilometre radius.

• Ethnic cuisine on the rise: Choosing locally grown ingredients has also encouraged a rise in popularity for ethnic cuisines, which typically use these ingredients. This is great for events and incentives that want to share the flavours of a place.

Did you enjoy this read? Then visit, where this article originally appeared, for more free resources, as well as the latest industry trends, news and expert insights.


Two venues – the National Exhibition Centre and the International Convention Centre, both in Birmingham, UK – are trialling carbon labelling on their menus to help conference delegates make “more informed, sustainable choices”. More than 1 800 recipes will be assessed for their carbon impact and labelled accordingly. This could also prove a useful tool for food service companies, who will be able to view the impact of each ingredient for recipes they upload, and possibly start to adapt their menu design to be increasingly sustainable.

food trends that are driving shifts in event catering best practice.

Tech tools that BOOST ENGAGEMENT

The benefits of promoting engagement at business events range from making the event more enjoyable and the content more memorable for your attendees, to building a sense of community and gaining useful insights and feedback from participants.

With these benefits in mind, we asked Mike Lysko, founder and CEO of Flock Eventing Platform, which engagement tools he would recommend for South African business event organisers. Here are his top picks:

• is pretty much the standard tool when it comes to live polls and Q&A sessions. It’s easyto-use, has robust analytics and is reasonably priced. It gives event organisers the chance for their attendees to ask questions and engage in content that is being presented.

• Kahoot is great for quizzes, testing general knowledge and doing team building. Users have to answer questions within a time-limit and a leader board is displayed to keep track of who is winning - and encourage some friendly competitiveness.

• Flock event apps are awesome for communicating to your audience, and getting their feedback back. Each app can easily host multiple third-party applications (such as the other engagement tools I’ve mentioned here)

to provide a better event experience. They also support peer-to-peer networking, with attendee profiles and contact information, which is another critical type of event engagement.

• LoQuiz lets you easily set up a variety of games and quizzes with an integrated question library. It can also help you stage bespoke treasure hunts, using photos or written clues to guide players. The app, which an appointed team leader operates on a tablet, uses GPS for outdoor positioning and a special clue system for indoor question mapping, making it suitable for events of all sizes.

Aside from the benefits that come from promoting engagement, these tools also offer useful analytics, adds Mike, explaining, “These tools provide real-time insights from the audience –through the feedback from the live polls and even sentiment from the words typed into the tools, not to mention the response rate (essentially how engaged your attendees are) and the type of content that attendees engaged with the most. All of which helps event organisers plan better for their next events.”

A final reminder is that – even if you’ve got the best engagement ones in the world –engagement tools won’t be effective unless your attendees use them. Therefore, Mike recommends the following, “Communicate the tool ahead of time, let attendees know the benefits and incentivise them for using the tools with giveaways and prizes. Ask MCs and speakers to have some of their content make use of the tools.” For example, speakers can incorporate polling questions into their presentation.

For some ideas on what polling questions to ask, visit the ‘Resources & Tools’ tab on and search for ‘poll’. You’ll find a free handy download of suggestions, courtesy of Flock. MEETINGS MARCH /APRIL 2023 • 35
Engagement is a highly prized objective for event planners. Mike Lysko shares some of his favourite tech tools that promote engagement and –bonus – yield rich audience insights.

Getting the most out of social media: ENGAGEMENT + ANALYTICS

Digital marketing guru

Natasha Jayne Heiberg shares some of her insights and expertise with Meetings magazine, specifically on the most effective ways to promote engagement on social media, and benefit from the analytics these interactions generate.

Meetings: Do you think social media is a good platform to engage with event attendees, and why/why not?

Natasha: Yes, definitely. Event planners should have a good understanding of who their ideal attendee is and should be using all of the relevant channels they can to communicate with their audience.

More than half of the world are on some form of social media, and that amount is steadily increasing. As a result, event planners are able to connect with people all over the world, and you can communicate with them in a matter of seconds and receive a response just as quickly.

On the other hand, social media is time consuming, and closer to and during the event they require constant community management. People have no filter on social media and are

able to share their thoughts, opinions, ask questions and more. This requires constant attention from brands.

Something to also keep in mind is that we are all really dependant on our phones, and probably


check our phones and social media more often than we would care to admit. We all look to social media to share our stories, to gauge other people’s experiences and to make decisions. Social media plays a bigger role in people’s lives now, more than ever.

Event planners should have a well thought out social media plan in place, combining content with community management and paid adverts. Compile a list of FAQs ahead of time to answer those questions that come up pre-event, and have a social media triage and social media policy in place to help with decision making when a response is needed.



of The Meetings & Event Planner

What kind of event engagement opportunities exist on social media that you would recommend to event planners?

There are so many content opportunities for every stage of the event. You just need some time to consider the details of your event, what is important to your audience and how they need to get there.

But social media is so much more than just posting content and hoping for it to land with your audience. Each social media platform has it’s own strengths and weaknesses, so event planners need to decide which platforms would suit their brand the best.

Think of social media as a self-updating source of potential leads for your audience funnel. Your audience is constantly updating their interests, their details and more - and they are actively listening to what others say and taking those inputs into their decision-making considerations.

Event planners should firstly understand their audiences and what their needs are. Not every good social media idea will work for every event. However, here are a few that are increasingly popular:

• Social selling or LinkedIn automation campaigns are lead-generation techniques where you can interact directly with your audience on the social media platform where they are most likely

found. 78% of social sellers outsell peers who don’t use social media, according to LinkedIn. LinkedIn has also created other opportunities like newsletters, audio events and several other options under the Creator studio.

• Find your audience groups on platforms and connect with them. Groups are stricter in that you can’t just share promotional content. I would recommend connecting with group admins and developing a plan to promote your event. Host exclusive webinars with speakers, give out tickets, share knowledge, etc.

• The days of just posting images are behind us. Prioritise TikTok and Instagram Reels. You will need to create content that tells a story, is entertaining and provides value to your audience. They are lifestyle channels, and you don’t want to create content that is all about ‘selling’ all the time. You can repurpose content created for TikTok to Instagram Reels. On both platforms, you will reach new audiences. Post frequently, and then retarget those audiences in your ad campaigns. Repetition is also key with these channels.

• Finally, use ChatGPT to help with your social media campaigns. The possibilities are endless when you ask the generative AI to assist you.

What analytics can planners gather from social media, and how and why are they useful?

Planners can gather a wide range of analytics from social media depending on the purpose. Some common types of analytics and how they useful:

• Demographics: It’s important to understand who your audience is in terms of age, gender, location, and interests. This helps to identify your target audience and tailor the messaging or ad campaign accordingly.

• Engagement: Often used to measure the effectiveness of the campaign, these metrics track likes, shares, comments and clicks. This helps to identify which types of content perform the best.

• Sentiment analysis: By using natural language processing (NLP) to analyze people’s posts, you can determine their sentiment towards the brand and find areas for improvement.

• Influencer tracking: If you are able to use influencers, you can track their activity and the mentions. You should also request analytics from them as part of your agreement. This will help you identify good partners for future events.

• Competitor analysis: Track competitive events and their performance. You can also research their content, their audience and their engagement to help refine your own social media strategy.

To get the most out of your analytics:

• Set the baseline. Use the first event or most recent event as a base to determine when posts perform above average.

• Create a dashboard. By building a dashboard and tracking multiple channels in one place, you will be able to see a more accurate picture of all of your analytics.

• Plan what your goals are, and measure your success by tracking traffic, community engagement, conversions, and follower growth.


Natasha Jayne Heiberg is an independent marketing manager, strategic communications specialist and digital strategist. She has extensive experience in the business events niche, having launched numerous marketing campaigns and strategies with some of South Africa’s favourite B2B trade show brands like Markex, A-OSH Africa, Machine Tools Africa and more.

To find out more about Natasha, you can view her LinkedIn profile at: Natasha Jayne Heiberg

online MEETINGS MARCH /APRIL 2023 • 37
out our guide to the most popular social media platforms, and how to choose and use
in the latest issue
. You can find it


Experiential marketing reigns as king of all forms of marketing in terms of its ability (when done right) to evoke positive emotions, and in so doing build brand loyalty and generate repeat customers.

For example:

• 70% of consumers become repeat customers after an experiential marketing event.1

• 85% of consumers are likely to buy after participating in events and experiences.2

• 98% of consumers create digital or social content at experiences and events.1

• 100% of consumers share the content they create.1

• 65% of customers say that product demos and live events helped them understand the product better than any other advertising method. 2

• 91% of consumers have more positive feelings about brands after joining events and experiences.2

• For consumers, the top three advertising methods to understand product benefits are company website (44%), events and experiences (41%), and physical retail stores (29%). 2


2 Event Marketer

Visit if you’d like to see all 89 experiential marketing statistics.


Events are essentially one form of experiential marketing, specifically in-person events where attendees are physically present and by default will be engaging with your event’s

brand and content. However, by understanding this concept, and how to use it well, planners can elevate their events from a solid ‘good’ to a fabulous ‘great’, and convert attendees into fans who will actively help to market future events.

Side note: You could argue that business events are different to consumer events, and these statistics are for consumer. However, we are still talking about people at the end of the day, and how we respond to things is innate. When Lebo attends an industry conference and has an immensely enjoyable experience while achieving her work objectives, don’t you think she will be more likely to want to attend again next year, and tell her colleagues and peers about what a great event it was?

You bet.

your attendees’ experiences central to your event design is key to its success. Meetings shares some guidelines on how to do just this.


Considering that many professionals may attend hundreds of events in their career, the pressure is on to make your events the ones that are the most memorable. Here are some guidelines, but remember to apply them with creativity guided by insights into who your audience is.

#1 Have a goal

Always, always make sure your experiential tactics help you to achieve your event’s objective/s. Otherwise, as fun or innovative as they might be, they will serve no purpose and possibly leave your attendees a little confused or, worse yet, detract from your goals.

#2 Think about all the senses

Martin Lindstrom, a business and culture transformation expert, shares that brand impact increases by 30% when more than one sense is engaged, and by 70% when three senses are integrated into the brand message.

Events are by default sensory experiences, so it’s important to keep all five senses top of mind, from sight and touch to taste, sound and even smell. For example, what colours match the mood you are trying to create? What type of music, at what volume, should welcome your guests when they arrive? What textures can you choose for the furnishings? Will freshly brewed coffee or fresh cut flowers add to the effect you are trying to achieve?

#3 Keep it social

Most if not all of your attendees are likely on social media, so give them lots to post and

share on their profiles. (Remember the earlier stats – 98% of consumers will create digital or social content at events, while 100% will share the content they create.) From food art to photo walls and interesting centre pieces or art installations, there are plenty of ways to do this. Don’t forget to prominently display your easy-to-remember hashtag so that you benefit from this goldmine of usergenerated content.

#4 Encourage interaction

Help your attendees become active participants rather than passive viewers. If you have a speaker, brief them to ask and take questions regularly, and not only in the last five minutes when the MC is worried about running over time. (On that, also brief your MC not to cut interesting Q&As short.) There are some great tools to help make this a seamless and easily inclusive process, such as live polling, upvoting the questions delegates most want to hear, and sentiment word clouds.

You can also include interactive activities or ‘build your own’ food stations, while Adrian Segar, founder of Conferences That Work, advises some level of gamification: “By including a few simple games in your meetings, attendees will apply creativity and ingenuity, making the entire experience more engaging.”

Networking is also an invaluable business event interaction. Find new ways to facilitate it. For example, use smart badges that light up every time a person comes close to a profile match. It’s a great ice breaker and can be used in conjunction with an event app to ensure contact details are seamlessly shared.

#5 Create a varied programme

Pauses in the programme allow people to take everything in. Packing in too much – even of a good thing – can become a bit too intense and exhausting. Not the effect you are going for.

Victoria Matey, a consultant and co-founder of Matey Events, shares the following brain-friendly event design examples that make for more memorable events: balancing the agenda with more and better quality breaks; spreading out event content over time (including pre- and postevent); and integrating emotions into your design intentionally (think surprise moments, humour, anticipation, and anything else that can be relevant to your audience).

#6 Don’t forget pre- and post-event engagement

The way attendees experience your event begins long before they walk through the door. Think about how you communicate with them pre-event, and what you can do to build excitement leading up to your event. You can also facilitate networking pre-event by digitally introducing attendees, possibly through an app or social media group, so that people coming to your event already have a list of contacts they would like to speak to.

Post-event communication is equally critical, not only to thank attendees and send a feedback survey, but to cement the relationship you have now formed. Spot Me suggests tactics such as reminding them about the event highlights, making some or all content available on-demand, hosting a follow-up networking event, having an exclusive offer or running a competition – all of which should ideally be personalised to the relevant audience segment.


5ways to



There is a plethora of information out there on the various solutions available to homes and businesses to combat load-shedding.

Instead of getting into the nitty-gritty of what solutions you need, here are five practical steps business owners should follow to weather SA’s electrical storm.


With Eskom’s recent announcement that load-shedding to at least Stage 2 will endure for the next 24 months, businesses will need to embrace this challenge and prepare for the long term. If history has taught us anything, the move to Stage 2 at a minimum will easily

be exacerbated by factors over which we will have little control. Energy requirements increase during the winter months, the already failing power grid will continue to add pressure resulting in breakdowns at power stations, and traffic lights out at intersections will impact employee commutes to work as well as supply chain deliveries. Stage 2 can quickly

become Stage 6 or 8, and the only way out is to plan ahead.

Determine what resources your business will need to survive, and then make investing in these resources a priority. Wherever possible, don’t take a band-aid approach for the cheapest way out – doing so will only lead to significant cost of upgrades, repairs and maintenance in the future.

navigate tech

While the majority of the technology in your business requires electricity to work, electricity and technology are not synonymous. If you don’t already know the difference between a UPS and an inverter, or if you don’t already understand how much backup power can be expected from equipment choices like these, speak to your technology consultant about what will best suit your business.

It’s also critical to understand that technology consultants are not electricians, and you will need to engage the services of an electrician if necessary. DIY fixes can also be problematic, such as assuming that laser printers can run on inverters (in most cases, they can’t) or assuming that generators are safe for use with computers (without the necessary measures, your insurance may not pay if a generator surges your computers or network devices). Whatever measures you are thinking about taking, check with your technology consultant as well as your electrician to be sure that the solutions you opt for are safe and sustainable.

While we cannot control the energy crisis, we can control where we place our own energy. Consider reshuffling your workday to accommodate for load-shedding before the situation takes control of your life. This may mean working flexitime to incorporate personal time, negotiating meeting times outside of ordinary business hours with clients and suppliers, or moving to a shift-work scenario with your human resources. Because we are all affected, clients and suppliers will be open to suggestions for meetings that are at mutually convenient times. There are some great tools available to find time such as Microsoft Findtime, Doodle or even the new WhatsApp poll feature to figure out what works best for all participants. Internally, consider using the Outlook Scheduling Assistant to help you coordinate your team.

Some companies have decided that hybrid working is here to stay, and others have insisted that their people return to the office. This is a bittersweet time for the use of technology because business owners need to decide between the well-being of their workforce and the long-term sustainability of their companies. In the South African context, employees who work from home require not only internet connectivity, but backup power too. Whatever you decide, keep in mind that the amenities ordinarily provided to staff in an office may not be a luxury that everyone has at home.

arrives with the illusion that there is more time available to everyone; second, participants feel an obligation to unnecessarily state the obvious – this phenomenon is a new type of performance anxiety that we have not seen before in a traditional boardroom setting. Stick to meeting agendas and be respectful of every participant’s time. Meeting remotely helps keep your carbon footprint in check too, and you can literally meet with anyone anywhere in the world.

Whether it is Zoom, Teams or anything inbetween, remote meetings are something we all needed to embrace during the pandemic. Now that we have all figured out how to make sure when we are not ‘on mute’, and learned how to share our screens to collaborate, and (hopefully) recovered from webinar fatigue, we are well equipped for this. Meeting remotely will never replace the necessity for face-to-face communication because human beings we are still hard-wired for connection. However, to tide us over during the energy crisis, remote meetings remain a good solution. Remote meetings often run over time for two reasons: first, there is no commute to an online meeting and therefore everyone

The pandemic taxed us in many ways. We had to cope with the stress of an imploding economy, anxiety over the future of business and, for many people, saddening and outright loss. Somehow, it became acceptable to work around the clock – especially if you spent a protracted amount of time working from home. The World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases recognises burnout, and for good reason. If you haven’t already, consider taking stock of where you are as a person in the aftermath of the pandemic and make any long-overdue adjustments to your goals. If you work from home, choose your office hours and stick to them. For many business owners, work/life balance will never make sense because for them, work = life. If that’s you, check in with yourself regularly to make sure that you are getting enough rest and carving out enough time for whatever nourishes you. As much as you need to recharge your devices, you also need to recharge your soul.


The rate of cybersecurity incidents is on a rapid incline globally. Downtime as a result of electrical outages not only has the potential to damage your physical network infrastructure, but also provides a window of opportunity for cyberattackers to exploit vulnerabilities while equipment is starting up. Speak with your technology consultant about what cybersecurity measures you have in place, including what contingencies are available if your business suffers any downtime. Additionally, be sure to implement any necessary measures to protect your business if you have employees on a hybrid or remote working arrangement. MEETINGS MARCH /APRIL 2023 • 41
As much as you need to recharge your devices, you also need to recharge your soul.”

The future looks bright FOR SA’S MICE INDUSTRY

February’s National Budget provided some encouraging signs that South Africa’s economy could turn around, including thorough incentives to stimulate short-term investment. This contributes to a fruitful outlook for the MICE industry, as various provisions align with promoting tourism and events locally.

Among these is the incentive for businesses to reduce their taxable income by investing in renewables. Placing no limit on the size of projects that qualify will help to encourage investment sooner than later, with the 125% tax rebate valid for two years. I believe this boost will carry through to event organisers and venues who are doing all they can to counteract the effects of Eskom’s load-shedding, while doing what is best for the environment.

ESG (environmental, social, governance) plans are on the horizon in the events industry through the Association of African Exhibition Organisers (AAXO), which strives to encourage investment and participation from businesses in events and exhibitions. It’s important to make sustainable choices towards the longevity and success of the global events industry, in which South Africa is a key player.

Plunged into darkness at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the MICE industry must work even harder to manage the present load-shedding pandemic, while building back the industry and attracting further interest in South Africa as a top MICE destination.

Improving infrastructure is crucial here and was high on the Budget agenda beyond the provision to reduce Eskom’s debt.

Transport and logistics received an estimated R351.1 billion commitment to Sanral to

Projeni Pather, founder and MD of Exposure Marketing, shares her optimism following February’s Budget Speech.

enhance South Africa’s road infrastructure network. Additional plans projected to cost R132.5 billion over the next three years will improve water and sanitation services. These are excellent steps towards making the country more capable of managing an influx of business and leisure tourists.


The country offers so much potential – from its landscape to its blend of cultures – with a

well-developed tourism and events industry and many high-quality venues, suppliers and service providers. World-class convention centres and exhibition venues, such as the Cape Town International Convention Centre and the Durban International Convention Centre can – and do – host large-scale international events. There is also a diverse range of accommodation and activities available locally to cater to the needs of event attendees.

South Africa is an appealing and competitive destination for hosting events with the favourable advantage of the rand’s exchange rate, making it more cost-effective to hold African or international events here. While the total spend on an event will depend on many factors, items like accommodation, transportation, and food and beverage are generally lower in South Africa than in many other developed countries.

But due to load-shedding in particular, the MICE industry is feeling the pressure. Food, for example, is a major component of any event, so it was great to see the Budget recognise how tough it has been through extending the Road Accident Fund levy refund for diesel to help manufacturers of foodstuffs, compensating for the cost of generators and the impact of the electricity crisis on food prices.

South Africa has its struggles, but it is still among the most developed and stable destinations on the continent, which reassures event organisers and attendees. If the Budget provisions and tax-saving measures can help to keep the lights on and make it easier to do business in South Africa, we should expect to see more events coming to our local shores.



Buildings that build legacies

Letz! Legacy in Luxembourg

When you search the web for ‘legacy of events’, you will get 1 340 million results in less than a second. Doing the same search for ‘legacy of convention centres’ will produce 49 million results. And yet, we believe that the buildings in which events take place can play a very important role when it comes to creating a legacy.

Event legacy can take many shapes and forms, but one of the most common ones is that organisers want delegates to go back home feeling inspired and energised. Having great speakers, stimulating interaction and facilitated networking are all crucial to achieve this objective; however, without an inspiring environment, it will be a lot harder.


That is why architects, such as the awardwinning Luxembourg based Nico Steinmetz, focus on user experience and community building when designing venues. Delegates will no longer leave the comfort of their homes/ offices just to sit in a large ballroom and listen to hours of lectures, an evolution accelerated by Covid-19 and its digital shift. Events need to be carefully designed, offering different types of experiences in function of the goal to be achieved and using all the assets the venue can offer.

The European Convention Center of Luxembourg (ECCL) – which reopened 10 years ago – was designed to offer such a range of user experiences for a very specific audience: the EU Council of Ministers, an audience with very diverse needs. There is the need to have formal meetings in an environment that feels ‘safe’ and offers all the facilities needed. There is also the need for discrete bilateral discussions, often far less formal

but not less important to make progress on the challenges the EU faces. And of course, not unlike any other event, there is the need for informal networking. The ECCL offers all the facilities needed but combine these with architecture that brings in lots of natural light and uses colours and materials to create a sense of harmony. Similar features can be found in other venues such as ICC Sydney or the BMO Centre, which will open its doors in 2024: a clear focus on user experience with lots of light, flexible use of spaces and a sober, streamlined design, offering organisers the ideal platform to achieve the objectives outlined above.


Creating the right atmosphere has often proved crucial when it comes to legacy. A great historical example is the Solvay Conference of 1911, which brought 18 top scientists from across the world together for lectures, formal and informal discussions on science. The venue – the Metropole Hotel in Brussels – created an atmosphere in which the attendees felt comfortable in sharing their ideas, which was the key objective of the organiser. Now, this meeting is considered a turning point in science, when classical physics was about to give way to quantum theory, forever changing the field.

For any organiser, it is of key importance to have a lasting impact or legacy. We like to think that the convention centre design can play a crucial role in making this happen and invite you to discover for yourself at the 2023 AIPC Annual Conference, taking place at the ECCL from 16-19 July 2023. Find out more at

Sven Bossu and Patrick Hoffnung argue that convention centres play a critical and often overlooked role when it comes to creating lasting legacies.


The EGF’s 2023 ManCo

Introducing the new committee steering us forward

Morwesi Ramonyai welcomes the new team who will be driving sustainability at events forward in 2023.

We – the Event Greening Forum – held our AGM on Tuesday 28 February at the Sandton Convention Centre and online, where our new 2023 management committee was elected.

The committee remains largely unchanged, with only one new representative joining us – new EGF member

JP van Schalkwyk – and the loss of two representatives who resigned in the past year – Chantal Croaster (CTICC) and Geraldene Parmassar (Technology Partners).

It’s heartening to receive this continued support and involvement, especially during a period when the events industry is under a great amount of pressure, so I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to each and every one of our past and present committee members.

On that note, a big congratulations to the following committee members:

• Chairperson: Morwesi Ramonyai (Borena Energy)

• Vice chairperson: John Arvanitakis (Chat’r Xperience)

• Treasurer: Justin Hawes (Scan Display)

• Secretariat: Lynn McLeod (Individual)

• Neo Mohlatlole (7 Colors)

• Gavin Burgess (Technology Partners)


Learning and certification

• Grace Stead (Steadfast Greening)

• JP van Schalkwyk (Up-A-Tone Events).

Coopted members:

• Louis Nel (Louis THE Lawyer)

• Mbali Mduli (Event Greening Forum).

Associate member representatives:

• AAXO: Anthea Buys

• EXSA: Doug Rix/Lee-Ann Alder

• FEDHASA: tbc

• IFEA Africa: Janet Landey

• The MICE Academy: Helen Brewer

• PCO Alliance: Ellen Oosthuizen

• SAACI: Glenton de Kock

• SACIA/TPSA: Kevan Jones

• SA Roadies: Bernard Sebothoma.

I look forward to working with this group of exceptional people in the year ahead, as we continue to play our role in building a more socially and environmentally responsible industry.

For more information about the EGF, please visit

AAXO launches CEM course in South Africa

Worth approximately US$890 billion in 2020, as Statista notes, the global events industry is expected to grow to more than $2 trillion by 2028, while South Africa’s rapidly developing economy at present contributes more than $409.2 million to the global figure, with an expected annual growth rate of 4.67% expected from 2023-2027.

As a growing industry that employs thousands of event professionals, professional development is crucial in supporting members of the MICE industry in opening doors to more opportunities, elevating credibility, distinguishing from competitors and supporting in earning potential.


Together with the IAEE (International Association of Exhibitions and Events), AAXO has announced the opening of the coveted Certified in Exhibition Management (CEM) Learning Programme in South Africa.

CEM is a globally recognised designation that demonstrates the highest professional standard

throughout the exhibitions and events management arena. Currently, South Africa has only 10 CEM graduates in the country that form part of the total 3 700 designation holders worldwide.

The eight-part adult learning and certification programme is an education programme first and a designation programme second, so students can take what they learn in the classroom and apply it to their careers after their first class.

As an alumnus of the CEM Learning Programme, I can confirm with conviction that the programme has provided me with valuable tools, resources and skills to further develop my career in the events and exhibitions industry. By engaging with a network of experienced events professionals from across the world, I’ve had the opportunity to learn best practices across a variety of topics pertinent to event success.

To find out more about the CEM Learning Programme, and to sign up for it, visit or email

MORWESI RAMONYAI is the chairperson of the Event Greening Forum (EGF).
Devi Paulsen-Abbott, a CEM alumnus, encourages the local exhibition industry to take advantage of the CEM Learning Programme’s significant benefits.
PAULSEN-ABBOTT is the chairperson of the Association of African Exhibition Organisers (AAXO).


Expos and tourism

Exhibitions drive tourism

Lee-Ann Alder explores the link between exhibitions and tourism in South Africa.

Statistics for peak tourism periods were released by South African Tourism last year. Looking at the stats, I plotted where exhibitions were taking place and found a distinct correlation to the elevated tourist numbers. I then conducted some research of my own and these are some of the findings.

Mining Indaba was hosted in Cape Town in February 2023. The flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town was packed to capacity, with many people travelling in company-branded clothing and going straight to the show. Steve Shombe, a taxi owner stationed at Cape Town International Airport, stated that his daily business had quadrupled. He was working around the clock and said that about 80% of his clients were international.

Similarly, Renier Van Der Schyff, regional sales manager of Onomo Hotels, said that all their hotels situated near Cape Town ICC were full to capacity over that period.

The Mojo Hotel, which caters for individuals staying in hotel rooms as well as dormitory-style accommodation,


Future leaders

was completely booked with a waiting list. Many foreign visitors frequent the hotel as it is in the hub of Sea Point, situated next to The Mojo Market. Their business also increased dramatically during Mining Indaba.


Overall, Cape Town was buzzing during the exhibition and the visitors got to experience a world-class exhibition, as well as the many tourist attractions that Cape Town has to offer. Many of the visitors, both international and local, went to wine farms, markets, Table Mountain, the V&A Waterfront and other tourist destinations.

Uber drivers were battling with the increased demand but said that they were more than just a driver for visitors – they felt like tour guides and took pride in driving people around safely.

This is only one example that shows how valuable exhibitions are at increasing tourism in South Africa.

Growing the next event professional

The recently held IMEX-MPI-MCI Future Leaders Forum at Meetings Africa, which was a dedicated youth-focused business events forum, had several members of the SAACI Youth Council with a selection of top students from various South Africa and African academic institutions. The sessions aimed to educate students, as well an entice them towards careers opportunities in the business events industry.

As an association, SAACI with its members are experiencing the challenge in finding skilled event professionals to deliver meetings and events, while we know that the training and skills transfer to the next generation is much needed.

The balance of getting both done simultaneously is one that we all a seeking a workable solution.


Hence, the SAACI Youth Council, which is working with the tertiary institutions in South Africa in preparing the

final-year students that have shown great interest and promise to build a career within the meetings and events industry.

Ensuring workplace readiness has always been a matter of concern once students reach the time for workplace training. Often the actual training is not fully completed or even started, as the students with the placement company battle to find that balance of delivery while learning in motion on a meeting or event.

As such, we are calling on all experienced professionals to consider reaching out to SAACI to be part of the solution-building process with the tertiary institutions and students in how best we can prepare the students for workplace absorption.

As an association, we know this is a big ask from members and the industry, with financial and practical challenges still felt in nearly every industry and organisation, no matter how big or small – but clearly, the future of the events industry needs to include a game plan to engage and attract nextgeneration participants. MEETINGS MARCH /APRIL 2023 • 45
LEE-ANN ALDER is the association manager for the Exhibition and Event Association of Southern Africa (EXSA). GLENTON DE KOCK is the CEO of the Southern African Association for the Conference Industry (SAACI).
Glenton de Kock shares how SAACI is engaging with and attracting next-generation event industry professionals, and encourages the industry to do so too.

Hold people accountable for their actions – whinging is not enough

Reading the previous issue of Meetings magazine, I was struck by the number of comments from various people who spoke about poor service delivery and unprofessional conduct by industry suppliers.

I don’t doubt it’s true. As the events industry emerges from the impact of the Covid pandemic, many suppliers are struggling with limited resources, inadequate cash flow and inexperienced staff. But these factors don’t excuse the broken promises and unprofessional conduct referenced in the issue.

What can we do? How do we ensure that ethical business practice becomes the norm rather than the exception?


One answer is to ensure you work with suppliers who are members of a professional body or industry association. Many associations (not all) hold their members accountable to a code of professional conduct and have a clearly defined disciplinary process that allows them to investigate allegations of improper behaviour.

This is undoubtedly true of SACIA, whose code of professional conduct was developed with assistance from the Ethics Institute of South Africa. A vital responsibility of a

professional body is to protect the public against unprofessional or unethical conduct by its members. We have the code and processes in place to address allegations of misconduct and discipline members who have crossed the ethics boundary. What’s missing is the formal complaint. We can’t respond to vague claims, and we can only act against individuals and companies who are SACIA members. It’s wholly inadequate, but there are solutions to both shortcomings.


The first is to encourage all associations in the events industry to embrace standard disciplinary processes and respect the outcomes arising from these. The second is encouraging people who believe they have been wronged to lodge a formal complaint with whichever body the offending supplier belongs to. It’s not enough to whinge at your mates. Document your allegations of professional misconduct and lodge your complaint in writing so that it can be properly investigated. Only when we hold people accountable for their actions can we start the change process.

If we promote professional standards and ethical business practices in the events industry, we must start by holding people accountable for their actions.

Professionalism starts with you INDUSTRY VIEWS
KEVAN JONES is the executive director of the Southern African Communications Industries Association (SACIA).
In the spirit of professionalism and for the sake of driving positive change in the industry, Kevan Jones insists that we need to hold those dropping the ball accountable for their actions.
It’s not enough to whinge at your mates. Document your allegations of professional misconduct and lodge your complaint in writing so that it can be properly investigated. Only when we hold people accountable for their actions can we start the change process.”

Read + Click + Earn CPD points

Once you’ve read each edition of Meetings , all you have to do is visit and go to ‘Earn CPD points’ under the ‘About us’ tab, click on the relevant survey link and answer 10 multiple-choice questions related to the articles in that issue. Get the questions right, and you’ll earn 1 CPD credit that can be used to maintain your professional designation.


In November 2020, SAQA registered three professional designations that can be awarded to event organisers in recognition of their skills and experience.

Once you’ve earned the designation, you must maintain membership in SACIA, abide by a code of professional conduct, and participate

in a programme of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) that keeps you up to date on the trends and technologies shaping the events industry.

Designated members need to earn 45 CPD credits within three years and can do so by attending formal training programmes, mentoring work colleagues, attending conferences and workshops, as well as selfstudy programmes such as reading books, journals and magazines – like this one.

that recognise the competence of individuals working in our sector, and encourage readers to earn a professional designation recognising their skill, knowledge and expertise.

For information on event management designations, visit For more information on SACIA and the Council of Event Professionals Africa, visit




Meetings magazine is committed to promoting the adoption of professional standards in the events industry. We support the development of formal programmes

Meetings magazine has partnered with SACIA to offer CPD credits to readers of our publication who can answer 10 simple questions related to the content of each edition.

Event risks – the other type

When it comes to event risks, what is the first thing that comes to mind? That large looming health and safety file? Financial risk? Disaster? Absolutely. But let’s delve a little into the other types of risks that I have come across.

In South Africa, as in many parts of the world, we have these daily challenges that can affect the smooth running of an event. Off the top of your head, you can probably think of an immediate five or six…. severe weather, bad roads, riots or strikes, road closures,

or venue flooding. Recently, I had the privilege of working with a venue that had this exact challenge; however, they sprung to it immediately and started the mop-up procedure. Even though they had to move a conference group into my dinner venue, which had been unaffected, I managed to get the decor staff and the DJ to delay setup and then get it ready in a shorter amount of time. Teamwork!

You, your speaker or any VIP or delegate could end up hitting a pothole on the way to the event, which has caused enough damage for their vehicle to be towed, creating a delay in their arrival. My poor client had this happen. Thankfully, my instructions and function sheet were very detailed, and all arrangements were 100% correct by the time she got there.


type of behavior is not acceptable and that the company will not be held liable for any incidents that occur if rules are broken, and the guest needs to accept accordingly.)

How do we deal with unruly, intoxicated guests that could clearly be a fatal hazard on the road and they insist on driving home? Have at least one backup transport option and any of the e-hailing cab services handy. Your guests can fetch their cars the following day. I have had to do this several times.


load-shedding, water shortages... to name a few. I even had an international event almost cancel two weeks prior to start, due to a terror threat resulting in a travel ban from the US. Luckily it was lifted, and life could go on... phew!

Severe weather can end up making your event a total washout with road closures

I’ve also ended up with guests who think it is acceptable to bully the barmen into giving them six packs of beer and closed bottles of alcohol, which, if they give in and it’s not caught in time, can lead to unruly behaviour and car-boot parties in the parking lot when the event is over. Yes, this has also happened to me! In this case, I put on my grumpy hat and politely inform guests of the rules of the venue and get them to leave, or I ask security to assist me.

(A quick note to remember is that one can also include terms and conditions of invite acceptance, which will outline that this

Let’s not forget load-shedding and the possibility of a total blackout. How long will we need to rely on generators? An experience in dashing out to the nearest supermarket to purchase a pile of battery-operated lamps for the bathrooms and general areas – as the venue didn’t have enough generating power for all the lights and the sound – quickly taught me to anticipate this could happen and to plan accordingly. The entertainment was more important!

Ultimately, event planners are not the pliant, pushover type. We get things handled, no matter what.

Having been in events for 30 years, I have certainly come across an array of challenging and entertaining obstacles along the way.
Have a story or viewpoint to share? Send it to for possible inclusion in our next Off The Record column.

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

What makes Meetings UNIQUE?

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

It is distributed to key industry decision-makers and is ABC audited;

It is accessible through multiple channels: print, newsletters, web, video and social media; Endorsed by several leading industry associations, including AIPC, SAACI, EXSA, AAXO, the PCO Alliance Network and the EGF.


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


Looking for new and exciting

The Incentive Planner is jam-packed with fresh ideas and top tips to turn any incentive trip into a memorable experience. Published annually


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 lanner is an easy-to-access resource for MICE professionals who are on the go and need to stay up to date with the latest industry news, current trends and best practices - and South Africa’s leading venues and suppliers are just a quick click away. With a weekly newsletter and strong social media presence, we’ve got you covered.

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