Meetings September October 2020

Page 1


RISK MANAGEMENT Why this is more important than ever


Spring safaris and more

with Tau Game Lodge CLIMATE CRISIS Safeguarding our collective futures


Where opportunities abound



It is going to take a very long time to bounce back to where we used to be and we are going to have to work hard to totally revive the industry.” Presley Mokotedi, Managing Director, Garona Communications and Projects

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CONTENTS The Planner


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FOCUS 10 Risky business We talk to Angelique Smith, co-owner and

event director at Event Synthesis, on how the Covid-19 pandemic is spotlighting the need for more careful and thorough risk assessment.

INSIGHTS 13 Everyone’s business With South Africa recently celebrating Heritage

Day, Thami Nkadimeng understands the role heritage plays in what future travellers can look forward to.

MICE PEOPLE 14 MICE masters We catch up with organisers Mulemwa Moongwa,

Kezy Mukiri and Obinna Nwachuya on how they are working to shape the narrative of Africa’s business events industry.

SUSTAINABILITY 18 The world stops for no one The founder and head ginger of

GingerBiscuit, Lisa Jade Hutchings, on how the Covid-19 pandemic has spotlighted the pressing need for more sustainably led efforts.


INCLUSIVITY 21 An all-round approach Bheki Twala has enjoyed a career in the

events industry that spans 30 years. He talks to Meetings magazine on the importance of stimulating the local events sector.


Safari serenade


Corporate safari therapy and Christmas in the bush beckon at Tau Game Lodge.

CLEANING PROTOCOLS 22 Welcome to the Hotel Covid-19 With Level 1 lockdown regulations coming into effect on 20 September 2020, Meetings calls on some of South Africa’s hotels to understand what guests can expect.

YEAR-END FUNCTIONS 24 A year to end them all 2020 has proved to be one of the toughest

years for the MICE industry, so is it fitting to host a year-end function to conclude the end of it all?

INDUSTRY VIEWS 26 The right touch Chat’r CEO John Arvanitakis writes on how


we can ensure we keep up the spirit of eventing while we adjust to shifting goalposts.


PROOF OF CONCEPT 28 The proof of the pudding With two proof of concept hybrid

events under its belt, the business events industry is showcasing incredible innovation.

BUDGET + PLAN 30 Budget like a boss We look at just some of the requirements associated with planning and budgeting for a virtual event.

DESTINATION: EAST AFRICA 32 East African infusion East Africa is home to an assortment of

exciting experiences. Meetings goes on an expedition to unearth the region’s most spectacular attractions.


Evolution of success Presley Mokotedi, founder and managing director of Garona Communications and Projects, is determined to make a difference. He gets personal with Meetings.


REGULARS 02 Ed’s Comment 05 Tidbits 35 Soundbite 40 Miss Meet


7 - 9 April 2021






Managing Editor Shanna Jacobsen ( Digital Editor Pippa Naudé Chief Sub-Editor Tristan Snijders Head of Design Beren Bauermeister Contributors Allan Agerholm, Mark Anderson,

John Arvanitakis, Sven Bossu, Glenton de Kock, Michelle Hinrichsen, Lisa Jade Hutchings, Mike Lord, Neo Mohlatlole, Thami Nkadimeng Production & Client Liaison Manager

Antois-Leigh Nepgen

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

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

Publisher Jacques Breytenbach

3S Media 46 Milkyway Avenue, Frankenwald, 2090 PO Box 92026, Norwood 2117 Tel: +27 (0)11 233 2600 Fax: +27 (0)11 234 7274/5 Meetings SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2020 © Copyright All rights reserved 2020 SUBSCRIPTION R330.00 per annum (incl. VAT) | ISSN 1684-9264 Printers Novus Print Montague Gardens NOTICE OF RIGHTS Meetings is published bi-monthly by 3S Media. This publication, its form and contents vest in 3S Media. All rights reserved. No part of this book, including cover and interior designs, may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser. The authors' views may not necessarily reflect those of the publisher or associated professional bodies. While every precaution has been taken in the preparation and compilation of this publication, the publisher assumes no responsibility for errors, omissions, completeness or accuracy of its contents, or for damages resulting from the use of the information contained herein. While every effort has been taken to ensure that no copyright or copyright issues is/are infringed, 3S Media, its directors, publisher, officers and employees cannot be held responsible and consequently disclaim any liability for any loss, liability damage, direct or consequential of whatsoever nature and howsoever arising.



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his has been a challenging year, to say the least. By the time this edition of Meetings goes live, the national lockdown implemented to contain the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa would have been in place for more than half a year. This period has included a limit on all social gatherings that saw a major decline of the MICE industry and resulted in heavy casualties. With Level 1 of lockdown still in place and Covid-19 right at our doorstep, we are not out of the woods just yet; however, we are starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel. This is encouraging and we can see that, together, we have made noteworthy progress on how we can ensure that events are hosted safely going forward.

BETTER TOGETHER More than this, the pandemic has shown us how a unified stance towards shared objectives can have the desired effect and this is an invaluable teaching that we should carry with us throughout everything we do. On page 14, we see clearly on 9 September 2020 how the power of collaboration achieved

positive results – together with the coorganisers of the Africa Meetings Industry Stakeholders Roundtable, Meetings magazine was privileged to be part of the launch of the official Africa Meetings Industry Day, which will now be recognised going forward. In this issue of the magazine, we delve into why business owners cannot ignore the importance of conducting a full and thorough risk assessment. Turn to page 10 to get the lowdown from Angelique Smith, co-owner of Event Synthesis and a 2019 Women in MICE winner, on the steps that can be taken to cover all bases. Lastly, on page 18, Lisa-Jade Hutchings, sustainability expert at GingerBiscuit, talks to us about how the Covid-19 pandemic has underscored the need for a stronger focus on the current climate crisis. Much like how we have managed the pandemic, being truly sustainable is within our realm of control – but it is going to take a collective push to make a meaningful difference. What we can see from the juncture at which we currently find ourselves is that it both starts and ends with us. We all have a role to play in how the situation plays out, and now, more than ever, we need to step up.

Shanna MEETINGS l SEPT/OCT 2020 •


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




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

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Meetings’ must-know minutia MV Wakashio oil spill clean-up continues in Mauritius Clean-up operations in the lagoons and shores in the south-eastern region of Mauritius have been ongoing after bulk carrier MV Wakashio leaked 1 000 tonnes of oil into the Indian Ocean. The carrier ran aground on 25 July, with a major containment and extraction process taking place to remove the remaining 3 000 tonnes of hydrocarbon aboard the vessel before it eventually broke in two on 15 August.

GL events South Africa announces executive appointments Key appointments were announced for GL events South Africa in August that will see industry stalwart Craig Newman assume the position of CEO, where he will have an overarching role across the Live, Venue and Events divisions. Moving from heading up PR and Marketing for GL events South Africa, Adele Hartdegen takes over the reins as CEO of both the Johannesburg Expo Centre and Dogan Events, while Ishmael Atanasi has been appointed CEO for GL events South Africa’s Live Events Division.

Lost airline revenues impact GDP The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has revised its outlook on the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic on Africa’s aviation industry, which initially forecast that US$6 billion (R98 billion) in passenger revenue would be lost, with a $28 billion (R458 billion) decline in GDP. The governing body now estimates that the continent’s GDP derived from aviation could plummet by up to $35 billion (R572 billion). Closer to home, South African Airways (SAA) is said to have met the requirements for a R10 billion business rescue package. According to Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni, the funding will be derived from private equity investors and other strategic partners. The airline has not made a profit since 2011, and the business rescue package means SAA will not go into liquidation but will shed around 3 700 jobs.

#LightSARed campaign highlights plight of live events industry

On 5 August, all across South Africa, more than 500 buildings and landmarks were illuminated red to highlight the emergency facing the country’s live events and technical production industries, which have been without work during the months-long lockdown in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Bringing attention to the support needed by the industry during this time, the #LightSARed campaign saw freelancers, venues and businesses standing together in solidarity to raise awareness around the desperate situation faced by countless companies and individuals. More information on the campaign can be found on the #LightSARed homepage at




SAFARI serenade

Corporate safari therapy and Christmas in the bush beckon at Tau Game Lodge.


ver been on safari in spring? The hype of the animal kingdom expressing its joy in the new season, when new life unfolds not only for the animals but also for their natural habitat, is pure magic.

The fresh green grasses and bush, budding blooms and seeds popping, not to mention animal offspring seeking the warming sunshine in their newly discovered world, make for an unforgettable spring safari in full, living colour at Tau Game Lodge within the Madikwe Game Reserve. Recent corporate visitors report an ideal escape after a difficult year in business, post the global pandemic. Witnessing the new season unfolding, when many species that hibernate during winter are now seeking nature’s smorgasbord, adds to the spectacle of the bush.

Migrating birds travel from afar to mate and create new life in this natural big five safari paradise. Suddenly, a conference, team-building or strategy session does not feel like work but more like a much-deserved safari holiday, when ideas start to flow and the human spirit is revived.

MEET AT TAU Tau is perfectly suitable as a medium-size meeting venue for 20 or 30 delegates. Dinner is hosted either in the boma, restaurant or dining deck, depending on the weather, which always presents a pleasant surprise element for corporate and regular guests. Tau’s state-of-the-art convention centre is situated within leisurely walking distance from the lodge and seats small groups – and up to 60 delegates, once social distancing rules are relaxed, comfortably. The high-quality conference equipment serves three sub-halls, while the two breakaway rooms accommodate 10 delegates per session.

TREAT YOURSELF AT TAU The Tau Spa Oasis is a further luxe experience, offering a bird’s-eye view of the verdant surrounding bush – and spectacular birdlife. The lodge is enclosed within the reserve,




Tau Game Lodge opened its five-star safari doors in 1995 and offers 30 rooms – from standard to luxury and family suites. The venue is both eco- and family-friendly and comes complete with a conference and events centre. For a relaxing, restorative experience, head to the Tau Spa Oasis. The highly addictive Tau live webcam at is sure to keep you enthralled.

resulting in guests being subtly fenced in, while game, including several crocodiles, roam free. The early morning safaris are mesmerising, offering magical light for photography, with a pit stop for Amarula coffee and delicious buttermilk rusks overlooking the verdant bush, while game rangers always keep a vigilant eye on game and predators. Afternoon game drives include dazzling African sunsets with delicious sundowners before returning to the lodge for a convivial dinner with guests and rangers chatting about their safari sightings of the day. Game viewing is not limited to safari drives. All 30 rooms and the lodge hospitality decks, as well as two pools, offer views of the large waterhole, where the game extravaganza of the wildest and most entertaining order plays out naturally 24/7.

the option of your private safari vehicle at an additional fee. Fast-forward from a spectacular game drive to indulging in a breakfast fit for royals, served at your private table overlooking the lush waterhole, where you see the natural pecking order of the wild – from a crocodile lazing on the embankment, hoping to trap a snack, to the myriad birdlife avoiding his primed jaws, elephants trumpeting their arrival, and probably a hyena and lion giving each other the evil eye.


you’re converted for life. And prior to your final departure, you already start planning your next Christmas – in the bush. The Tau team has adopted additional health and hygiene measures to provide guests with complete peace of mind during their visit – from arrival to settling into their rooms. Each room undergoes meticulous, deep cleaning before all guest arrivals. The culinary team’s delicious and healthy meals are served à la carte and tables are spaced apart at an appropriate distance.

A normal five-star safari day at Tau Game Lodge starts with an early wake-up call, if you’d agreed on this with your ranger over a delicious dinner the previous night. You dress in your comfortable clothes and layer up as early mornings are cool. Wash face, brush teeth and meet at the hospitality area of the lodge for a hot coffee of your choice – a smooth latte, cappuccino or even a steaming mug of hot chocolate. You indulge in a kitchen-baked fresh muffin. You then get rugged up in a woolen blanket on a safari vehicle, with a canopy for comfort, among a maximum of six guests to adhere to social distancing rules for your safety. Then, you are off to see game of all sizes and descriptions, in their natural habitat, and you even have

HAPPY HOLIDAYS Now, just imagine spending Christmas in this spectacular location. No need to drive – you are within easy walking distance of your five-star home from home during the feast. Word on the safari trail is that once you have spent Christmas in the bush with the folks most dear to you,


+27 (0)11 466 8715/7




Despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on business, Presley Mokotedi, founder and managing director of Garona Communications and Projects, is determined to make a difference. He gets personal with Meetings.

PRESLEY’S #1 BUSINESS TIP: “The greatest lesson I have ever learnt from having my own business is never to underestimate a job based only on money – the same client giving you a small job could potentially be your biggest client in the future, so treat each and every job the same by giving it your all.”



resley Mokotedi was raised with the spirit of entrepreneurship instilled in him from a young age. “I always wanted to be an entrepreneur when I was growing up. I used to help out with the family business and, from here, I developed the desire to have my own business one day,” Presley tells Meetings magazine. His career in the live events industry kicked off with a stint at a Johannesburg-based exhibition infrastructure service provider. This planted the seed for how he would later go on to develop the model for his own company that he had dreamed of having one day in the future. “I started Garona Communications and Projects 13 years ago and, with time, I have managed to fund the purchase of our own equipment and resources to provide stand design, construction services and a full turnkey solution for clients’ marketing material – from graphic design and printing to corporate gifting,” says Presley. At the beginning of 2020, Garona Communications’ pipeline was set to see the business through comfortably for the year. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has, as for most businesses in the MICE sector, resulted in many projects cancelled or put on hold. “Covid-19 has affected us negatively because, as an exhibitions and events company, we have not been able to do any of our core business for the past half a year, due to large events being banned. We have struggled, as this is where we generate the bulk of our revenue,” laments Presley.

ALTERNATIVE AVENUES Even though the Covid-19 pandemic and national lockdown have put a damper on business, Presley is driven towards finding the solutions to ensure Garona Communications and Projects survives. “We currently find ourselves challenged, with no big projects on our hands, and we are providing services such as printing vinyl stickers for PPE companies. We are also printing Covid-19 awareness posters for a number of companies; through this part of our business offering, we are able to pay our bills,” he explains. Even with eased restrictions on gatherings, the live events industry still finds itself somewhat challenged. Commenting on this, Presley believes that there will need to be stronger government interventions before activity within the exhibitions industry can reach previous levels. “While President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the country would be moving to Level 1 of lockdown, with a maximum of 250 people indoors and 500 outdoors, it unfortunately still limits what we can do, especially in exhibitions. With the large number of people directly employed by the industry who are breadwinners, the government will need to consider opening up for more people so that the events industry can start operating again,” he urges. Small businesses make up a large portion of the events and exhibitions industry, and Presley believes South Africa should support small players to minimise the huge level of unemployment and poverty in the country.


ABOUT PRESLEY MOKOTEDI Presley is the founder, owner and managing director of Garona Communications and Projects, which opened its doors 13 years ago. Prior to this, he worked as a sales executive for a local exhibitions company, where he gained invaluable experience. Through its excellent reputation, Garona was awarded a three-year contract as South African Tourism’s international exhibition partner. The contract commenced in 2019 and will run until 2022. “We employ, support and skill people, and play a huge role in the growth of the economy,” he highlights.

FUTURE FOCUS On what the outlook will be for the business events industry going forward, Presley feels we will experience a permanent shift. “It goes without saying that people will be wary of going to large-scale events because they will be worried about being infected with the novel coronavirus at these types of gatherings. In addition, the knock-on effect of the virus has resulted in a near crash of the economy and many businesses have closed, while others don’t have the budget for expos and events. It is going to take a very long time to bounce back to where

we used to be and we are going to have to work hard to totally revive the industry,” he says. Presley advises business owners to keep promoting their services during this time; Garona Communications and Projects is following all Covid-19 protective measures to stay safe and working to ensure that the company is top of mind so that clients do not forget about it. “We are equipping ourselves with more knowledge and making the most of the downtime – we are researching and learning about the latest trends so we can generate new ideas and execute on innovative and original concepts when the industry comes back online fully. I must admit that although it is tough, we are hanging on because we have a passion for what we do, and we are utilising the

Presley is a firm believer in transformation and skills transfer in the country. As a recently appointed board member of EXSA, he is looking forward to positively contributing to the exhibitions industry. time constructively to revamp our website ( and update our company profile. We are also still marketing our business and it keeps us going,” he notes enthusiastically.

STAYING THE COURSE Challenges aside, Presley is more passionate than ever about the potential that his business has on making a positive difference on livelihoods. One of his greatest inspirations is seeing how, through Garona Communications and Projects, he is able to uplift lives. “Garona Communications and Projects was a dream to have, and to now give up a dream because of Covid-19 is not an option – we are building a legacy through the way in which we strive to upskill our staff and I would like to tell all business owners and industry players never to lose hope. We have all taken a knock as a result of the pandemic but the best thing to do currently is to work as hard as we possibly can and have faith that we will get through this as an industry,” Presley concludes.

+27 (0)11 794 6162


RISKY BUSINESS Angelique Smith, co-owner and event director at Event Synthesis, talks to Meetings magazine about how the Covid-19 pandemic is spotlighting the need for more careful and thorough risk assessment.


he reality of doing business is that there is and always will be risk – from financial, legal and occupational to natural disasters, data or security breaches, or system failures. Every business owner has the capacity to identify possible risks and determine the appropriate ways of averting and mitigating these. This is not only in their teams’ best interests, but it is a legal


requirement to train staff on all potential hazards and to find ways of eliminating, controlling or avoiding them in order to keep everyone, including clients, safe. The issue is that this wasn’t policed before the Covid-19 pandemic and, therefore, it was not a priority for businesses. “A number of business owners I have done training for over the past six months have


Angelique Smith is an event management specialist and co-owner of Event Synthesis. She is a qualified and experienced safety officer, and through accredited training facilities Skills College and Appl-Ann, has developed a comprehensive Covid-19 risk assessment training toolkit. This includes relevant material such as a fully editable set of compliant back-to-work documentation, management plan template, employer-employee procedures, risk assessment, letter of appointment for the Covid-19 compliance manager/officer, policy documents and references, mandatory forms, posters, registers, and gazettes. Get in touch with her on or +27 (0)60 970 7653.

“Every employer that is permitted to operate will need to adhere to the sector-specific guidelines that apply to their business, in addition to the measures set out in the directives of the pertaining regulations.”

commented that they did not even know this was supposed to be done,” Angelique says.

STATE OF RISK ASSESSMENT Covid-19 is currently a major health risk. It has caused chaos on a global scale and will continue to affect us for quite some time. As a result, inspectors from the Department of Health have been mandated to check in on companies and monitor whether they are in fact adhering to the law. “This has highlighted the importance of not just implementing the Covid-19 risk assessment but also existing health and safety risk assessment protocols. This includes the appointment of Covid-19 compliance managers, officers and response teams to ensure that protocols are adhered to for employees and clients, as well as the drafting

of a management plan to ensure the smooth implementation of the Covid-19 protocols within each business or premises,” explains Angelique. With this written into law, those not adhering to the requirements risk being fined, having business shut down permanently, or the possibility of jail time. “Not a risk worth taking!” emphasises Angelique.

DETERMINING RISK She recommends appointing a safety officer or a designated health and safety representative to assist with determining the risks within your company or business. Failing this, business owners should attend a Covid-19 risk assessment course to provide them with the skills needed to identify the various risks and hazards. “Once this is done, as a business, you will be able to identify the risks within your environment for yourself. You will also be able to appoint a compliance officer with confidence, knowing that you understand exactly what to look for and how to manage or eliminate the hazard, which will then enable you to train your staff on how to mitigate and eliminate the risks, making it a safe environment for them and your clients,” notes Angelique.

MANAGING LIABILITY In the event of an incident, the first question asked will be:

“Was everything in your power done to ensure the complete safety of your staff and clients?” Upon investigation, if it is found that there was negligence on the part of the business/business owner, there are serious consequences. “A risk assessment is an inexpensive option to ensure that everyone knows how to manage various risks, including Covid-19. Staff training is equally important so that everyone




WORKPLACE PLAN & RISK ASSESSMENT The regulations provide a framework for all businesses that are permitted to operate. Business owners must develop a plan for the phased return of employees to the office or work premises prior to reopening the workplace, which must be available for inspection. The plan must detail which employees are permitted to return to work, what the plans are for a phased return of employees to the workplace, what the health protocols are, and the details of the Covid-19 compliance officer. The size of the business will determine the level of detail required and, therefore, smaller businesses can have a basic plan reflective of the size of the business, whereas large- and medium-sized businesses would require a more detailed plan to cater for a large number of people within the workplace. The plan must correspond with the requirements in Annexure E of the regulations for medium and large businesses. The directive, meanwhile, means that every employer is required to undertake a risk assessment to give effect to the minimum measures required in the directive, with reference to the specific circumstances in a particular workplace. If an employer employs a team larger than 500 people, the employer must submit a record of its risk assessment together with a written policy regarding the protection of employees from Covid-19 to its health and safety committee and the Department of Labour. On top of this, the following laws that have been drafted in the interests of South African employees must also be taken into account: • Occupational Health and Safety Act (No. 85 of 1993; OSHA) • Mine Health and Safety Act (No. 29 of 1996; MHSA) • Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act (No. 130 of 1993; COIDA) • Occupational Diseases in Mines and Works Act (No. 78 of 1973; ODMWA) • Basic Conditions of Employment Act (No. 75 of 1997; BCEA) • Labour Relations Act (No. 66 of 1995; LRA). understands how to mitigate a variety of hazards. Appointing numerous compliance officers then also ensures that there is accountability for negligence,” says Angelique. Below are a few of the measures to be implemented in the workplace to mitigate risks and hazards. • Date of opening of the business and trading hours. • Timetable reflecting the phased return to work of employees, to enable appropriate measures to be taken to avoid and reduce the spread of the virus in the workplace. • Steps and measures taken to get the workplace Covid-19 ready. • A list of employees who can work from home, including employees who are 60 years or older and/or those with comorbidities who will be required to stay at or work from home. • Arrangements for employees in the workplace such as: - sanitary and social distancing measures and facilities at the entrance and exit to the workplace


- screening facilities and systems - attendance record system and infrastructure - the work area of employees - any designated area where the public is served - canteen and bathroom facilities - testing facilities (for workplaces with more than 500 employees) - staff rotational arrangements (where less than 100% of employees are permitted to work) - arrangements for customers or members of the public, including sanitation and social distancing measures. “It is key that the events industry adheres to the laws as set out by government. This will demonstrate that our industry as a whole is compliant and can manage the risks associated with Covid-19, which will in turn show that we can safely open our doors and get our industry up and running,” highlights Angelique.


of the Disaster Management Act (No. 57 of 2002) and the directives under the Covid-19 Direction on Health and Safety in the Workplace issued by the Department of Labour (DoL) set out specific measures that employers are required to take to protect their employees in the workplace from Covid-19. There have also been some sector-specific guidelines issued. “We anticipate that more industries will issue specific guidelines going forward. Every employer that is permitted to operate will need to adhere to the sector-specific guidelines that apply to their business, in addition to the measures set out in the directives of the pertaining regulations,” says Angelique, adding that employers with fewer than 10 members of staff are not required to comply with all the measures and only need to comply with a list of measures applicable to them set out in the Act’s regulations, as well as Clause 40 of the DoL’s Covid-19 directives.

Regulations and protocols are in accordance with Level 1 of the national lockdown and are correct at the time of going to print. These are subject to change in the future.

THE USUAL SUSPECTS The common risks faced by event organisers, venues and service providers prior to Covid-19: • Food poisoning • Service providers cancelling last minute • Entertainers cancelling last minute • Power supply interruptions • Substandard service providers dropping the ball • Financial • Crowd management • Event safety files • Unpredictable weather

The regulations issued in terms of Section 27(2)

INSIGHTS With South Africa recently celebrating Heritage Day, Thami Nkadimeng understands the role heritage plays in what future travellers can look forward to.


here are a few buzzwords and catch phrases I have heard throughout the novel coronavirus pandemic, such as “new normal”, “Zoom-bombing” and “Those who quarantine together, quaranteam together”. The phrase that has stood out to me most during lockdown is, “Tourism is everyone’s business”. This rings true because when you decide to invest in tourism, either for leisure or business objectives, the contribution does not only stop at travelling and sight-seeing. When one travels, the exchange in money helps to contribute towards socioeconomic growth and development by reducing poverty, and this makes us a valuable

An experienced writer, speaker, moderator and MC, Thami Nkadimeng is a message architect who conceptualises, creates and delivers messages to a wide range of audiences, across borders and boundaries, using a variety of tools and platforms to reach objectives set. For opportunities with Thami, contact her on

stakeholder as opposed to merely being a participant or a globetrotter.

YOU ARE THE BUSINESS “Tourism contributes towards complete growth and development of a country: one, by bringing numerous economic value and benefits; and, second, helping in build country’s brand value, image and identity (sic). Tourism industry goes beyond attractive destinations, to [be] an important economic growth contributor.” For me, the above definition of tourism on sums up why this warrants our attention. After roughly half a year of being restricted to travel, the gates of the ‘cage’ are now open and the temptation to explore as much as possible is great. And rightly so! But how are people attracted to a destination before they end up deciding to travel and spend money there? BE DISCERNING Certain features contribute to the attractiveness of a destination, namely: culture, architecture, gastronomy, infrastructure, landscape, historical and geographical landmarks, events, shopping, and many more. Level 1 of the national lockdown is upon us, so what now? I encourage everyone to explore your country first. Use this time to stimulate travel within South Africa by being the ambassador the country needs and play your part in showcasing the love and passion you have for your nation. Are you contributing towards making South Africa a destination of choice? Still not sure how?

Here are a few tips: Videos – We love taking videos but the next time you capture a video, capture one with the beauty of your surroundings and environment. Just recently, I watched a documentary about social media being a dilemma. Truth is the most effective way to market lately – through Instagram, Facebook and Twitter – so use it wisely and do so with your country in mind. Changes – Believe it or not, people are drawn to change. Yes, so much has changed and, yet, so much has stayed the same. What you cannot take away from us as South Africans is our heritage. This makes us who we are, so don’t be shy to share the changes that have contributed towards our rich history, including Covid-19. Influence – If ever your dream was to be an influencer, this is your time. It doesn’t matter how many followers you have in your network; make it a habit to share and promote destinations and offerings in your space. Avoid – As fulfilling as it might be to vent in your public and global spaces through the net, be aware how your words paint a picture of your country. In this instance, pick your battles: you are either promoting the country to grow the economy, or choosing dissatisfaction. Collaboration – The quote by Ken Blanchard that “none of us is as smart as all of us” is so apt for where we are currently. Moving forward after the pandemic will require innovation and artistry that cannot even be found in textbooks. Now, more than ever, it is true that: alone, we can achieve but together, we can achieve for all!




Through collaborative efforts, this year’s Africa MICE Industry Stakeholders Roundtable came together in the most spectacular way. Shanna Jacobsen was part of the action on the day and catches up with organisers Mulemwa Moongwa, Kezy Mukiri and Obinna Nwachuya on how they are working to shape the narrative of Africa’s business events industry.

MICE masters


hat do you get when you cross a dynamic and driven group of Africans with a hunger for bridging the needs of the continent’s meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions markets? Why, a golden opportunity, of course! Together with the support of Meetings magazine and The Planner Guru, this year’s Africa MICE Industry Stakeholders Roundtable, which took place on 9 September, was hosted digitally and joined by attendees from more than 20 countries. The event culminated in engaging discussions with a number of the industry’s key role players, with discussions on the day centred on the

importance of meetings and business events in the socioeconomic development of Africa. This saw participation by experts such as Dr Geoffrey Manyara, economic affairs officer in charge

of tourism at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, and academics Nellie Swart, certified meetings professional (CMP) and associate professor in tourism at the University of South Africa, as well as Esti Venske, senior lecturer in the Department of Tourism and Event Management at Cape Peninsula University of Technology. Kevin Hin, secretary general of the Junior Chamber International (JCI), a global organisation with over 150 000 members in 120 countries, moderated what was one of the most relevant sessions of the day. This focused on leveraging the human factor in the recovery of the Africa’s MICE industry.

Kevin Hin, secretary general, JCI


#MICEINAFRICA “The Covid-19 pandemic’s power lies in its invisibility. We are all united by the crippling effects of an enemy we cannot see and being part of an industry that was the first to close and will likely be the last to return... we need to start focusing on the ‘new normal’,” noted Kevin in his introduction. JCI has created an initiative called JCI Rise to encourage the participation of the youth in their communities. This is centred on three pillars, namely; preserving mental health, sustaining and rebuilding economies, and motivating the workforce. In addition, the African Perspectives Report on the MICE Industry was announced to bridge the vast chasm in data within the continent’s MICE sector. The report is a partnership between Niche Partners and The Planner Guru, which will be released during the first quarter of 2021. One of the most exciting takeaways from the event was the launch of the inaugural Africa Meetings Industry Day and in line with this, it will run as the Africa MICE Summit from 2021, together with the Africa MICE Awards.

MICE plays a significant role in reshaping minds, communities and industries – its roots are as deep as our existence as humans and it should never be mistaken for a trend. Let’s get out of our silos and champion Africa to Africa for Africa, with cross-destination collaborations and capacity development initiatives.” Obinna Nwachuya, principal, Sluxia

HOW IT ALL STARTED We concluded the day’s proceedings with organisers Kezy Mukiri, Mulemwa Moongwa and Obinna Nwachuya highlighting the significance of their collaboration in how the Africa MICE Industry Stakeholders Roundtable came together. After the event, they shared their personal journeys with Meetings magazine. DEMONSTRATING THE ART OF COLLABORATION Obinna Nwachuya, principal at Sluxia, was born in Nigeria and currently toggles between Prague, Czech Republic, and Abuja, Nigeria. His career began long before he knew it as MICE, he says. Starting out as a marketing executive in charge of beverage supplies for a long list of events across southern Nigeria, his role also involved coordinating partnerships and marketing activations for new brands entering the market. “From there, I found myself working backstage for Carnival Calabar, different campus activations for Telcos, fashion shows and film festivals. As a young adult, I was fascinated by the orchestra of event creativity and the general idea of taking a concept from mind to paper to a full-blown experience. I was hooked,” recalls Obinna. He delved into the economics of business events after a rather interesting group project he was assigned to work on just a few weeks after arriving Spain in pursuit of a master’s degree in innovation and tourism marketing. The days that followed brewed a long list of questions and carved a new path: “Why were the majority of conferences that discussed Africa’s future

championed by non-Africans outside its borders? What is the true cost of Africa’s absence from the nearly trillion-dollar industry and what would it take to grow its slice of the pie?” For Obinna, the mission continues. For Kezy Mukiri, her journey in MICE started out quite differently. “I am a lawyer by qualification. In 2007, three years into my legal practice and just after completing my master’s degree, I founded Zuri Events. My vision then was twofold: first, to provide corporate organisations with end-to-end professional brand management solutions using live events to create impactful experiences, and,

second, to create a platform for employment generation aimed at empowering women and young people in my community,” says Kezy. Zuri Events has since grown from a small Kenyan outfit providing tailor-made solutions to corporate organisations across East Africa to a company focused on research, green innovations and eco-friendly solutions for sustainable event management. This includes training and capacity development for MICE professionals, as well as policy engagement for MICE development across Africa. Like Kezy, Mulemwa Moongwa was set to start her career in law but after spending her




gap year between high school and university at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Mulemwa started doubting whether she would be able to establish her career in the field. “I realised then that I was going to struggle with a profession where people who are accused of hurting even children are presumed innocent,” she explains. After taking the decision to pursue a different profession, Mulemwa worked part-time for a party planning business.

“Going from an almost-lawyer to a career as a partygoer seemed like a retrogressive move and it always made me feel inadequate. I sought validation for my life choices and eventually obtained a qualification in conferences, exhibitions and events management. It still felt like I was not optimising my intellectual capacity working in the events industry, so I ventured out and obtained a certification in organisational learning and development,” asserts Mulemwa. In 2008, Mulemwa set up Infinite Learning Consultants, a training and development business that has today evolved into a meetings management firm specialising in government-to-government and government-to-business activities.

DRIVING FORCE Despite the way in which large-scale gatherings have evolved in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns, the potential that MICE experiences hold for the development of business and trade cannot be ignored. “Globally, the Covid-19 pandemic has spotlighted the critical contribution of the MICE industry to many economies around the world. While the impact of the industry on economies, people and communities is not in doubt, the pandemic has demonstrated the need for integration of the industry into the national recovery plans and blueprints, says Kezy. For corporates, MICE is a powerful tool to leverage brand development, market penetration, In Africa, we haven’t got and customer engagement in an the data that fully quantifies impactful and meaningful way. or qualifies the continent’s value Meetings and conferences in Africa can also stimulate activity proposition, yet we are seeking to within associations and generate leverage an industry that in most much-needed revenue, with trade destinations lacks career or learning shows and exhibitions being a paths.” Mulemwa Moongwa, managing means to increase research and consultant, Infinite Consultants development, as well as create


continued cultural exchanges that would ensure the sustainability of development agendas such as Vision 2063. “The MICE industry is a critical platform for social education and enforcing behaviour on core issues such as sustainability. We are engaging with virtually all sectors of our economy, and this presents MICE professionals with a unique opportunity to impact communities and inspire the adoption of sustainability consciousness in organisations and associations for whom we organise meetings and events,” highlights Kezy. Obinna agrees that, beyond being a clear source of employment and contributor to local economies, MICE also plays the role of an appetiser to leisure tourism; however, Mulemwa cautions that significant strides need to be taken to prioritise the industry and unlock the economic power and potential of MICE and business tourism. “We are an industry that has the most unifying effect on the continent, which can lead to the harmonisation of so many efforts. In our objectives to host the Africa MICE Summit, we envision a continent that will collaborate and compete more in this space,” she says.

WHERE WE CAN BE With a population of over 1.2 billion, the MICE industry depends on the movement and coming together of people and, Mulemwa points out, targeting just 10% of this population would be significant for the growth of the associations movement and business tourism with an intraAfrican approach. “Regions that have prioritised MICE as an important driver of tourism have seen an earlier turnaround in response to the Covid-19 pandemic but until we recognise the value of developing our knowledge base, we will never change our current narrative,” says Mulemwa. The 21st century has placed a premium on human contribution to development; people, their collective experiences, knowledge and potential provide the asset with the highest value for any

#RISEAFRICA organisation or destination. Mulemwa feels that if we want to advance the current narrative, we need to shift our focus to developing our human capital first “In the absence of defined learning or career paths, we will struggle to optimise the potential of the MICE industry on our economies,” she says. With the evident challenges that need to be addressed, Kezy drills down the issue further, noting how Africa has lagged behind in leveraging MICE to maximise tourism earnings. “I aspire to see a thriving MICE sector in Kenya and across Africa but more investment needs to be made towards supporting research and innovation for the development of the MICE industry in Africa. This is an opportunity that associations and academia should run with, as the absence of data to inform well-thought-out MICE strategies and policies in many African countries hampers the ability of the continent as an attractive investment destination. Whereas many African destinations have made significant investments in leisure tourism, a lot needs to be done to prime destinations for MICE and business tourism,” comments Kezy.

REALISING THE COLLECTIVE DREAM With the exception of South Africa, the MICE industry in Africa is still at a nascent stage and holds huge untapped opportunities. Despite being blessed with unique propositions to spearhead business and socioeconomic opportunities, most African destinations still struggle to make clear cases for MICE investments. “MICE commitments are long term and where infrastructure investments form part of this scope, it is only in a few rare cases where policies might have been established; for the most part, however, the challenges of continuity, accountability and security due to political and social instabilities strangle investment efforts,” says Obinna, adding that the continent’s late entry could work in its favour. “Coming in late gives us readily available insights and templates we can leverage while

designing solutions that are as unique as we are,” he says. Another advantage is that Africa is strengthening its offering as a competitive MICE destination as the metrics we are using are based on areas of need that are currently relevant, thus ensuring the right economic cases needed for policy integration are made. The organisers of the Africa Meetings Industry Roundtable are committed to ensuring that this comes to fruition. “Now that we have our own Africa Meetings Industry Day, I will advocate for the

As a professional who has a keen interest in trade development in Africa, the MICE industry appeals to me due to its capacity to create and enhance trade and business connections, as well as its potential for knowledge and skills transfer and community impact.” Kezy Mukiri, founder, Zuri Events continent to continually engage and collaborate to rotate events all year round. I will only be satisfied when we are an industry that is able to attract and grow the best talent and will continue to advocate for the professionalism of the industry across Africa using the power of intracontinental dialogue,” Mulemwa pledges. Obinna shares this vision and believes that Africa can significantly increase its business tourism quota by developing initiatives that encourage the research needed to enable convention bureaus to act as brokers of innovation. This, he says, will create a better economic case for MICE and must incorporate

cross-destination collaborations as part of core strategies; however, we need to re-evaluate event values and practices as well as extend to investing in relevant knowledge and the global accreditations required to compete internationally. In a similar vein, Kezy highlights that even though individual countries on the continent will naturally compete for business, there is a pressing need for industry collaboration between the various stakeholders to drive the growth of the industry and enhance Africa’s positioning as a MICE destination. “We need to see more intentional and guided inclusion of the MICE industry in the fiscal and development agenda at policy level in more African countries. This will perhaps only be realised as a result of more structured engagement between private sector players, academia and government agencies in the tourism sector,” she says. Her company, Zuri Events, recently launched a hub to support research and innovation for sustainable business event management in East Africa. The MICEhub is also an incubator for techdriven MICE enterprises. “We are keen to play our part towards supporting the growth of the MICE industry in Africa,” she concludes.




THE WORLD STOPS FOR NO ONE Lisa Jade Hutchings, founder and head ginger of GingerBiscuit, on how the Covid-19 pandemic has spotlighted the pressing need for more sustainably led efforts.


ne would like to believe that we knew it was coming… we just didn’t know when, how or within what timeframe. The warnings were all there, and when the now well-known novel coronavirus landed on South African shores in March 2020, it was a stark realisation when the gravity of the situation hit us on a collective scale. However, there were differences. We may have all been in the same storm, but we weren’t in the same boat. The global Covid-19 pandemic has amplified the cracks within the system, as well as society at large. Widespread poverty dug itself deeper into the very fabric of our nation and the glaring gross inequalities that have existed for so long alongside the various other large-scale issues we face, both within our borders and globally, highlighted the climate crisis and breakdown in biodiversity. This has opened our eyes with absolute clarity and resulted in profound shockwaves rippling through every family unit, household, industry and business.


The fallout within the events and hospitality industry has been particularly devastating. Companies, individuals and groups across the sector saw their dreams and livelihoods shattered overnight, right before their very eyes, with many of us holding on by just a thread and, unfortunately, some not at all. It is a grim picture, if we look at the reality of the situation. Yet, somehow, perhaps Covid-19 has given us unique insight into the areas of society that so desperately need our correction and urgent attention, as well as being able to adequately build our resilience not only as people, but as an industry in the face of our current operating context. We can no longer look away. WHAT DOES ‘CLIMATE CRISIS’ MEAN? The term climate crisis is used to show a greater sense of urgency around climate change. The climate isn’t just changing – it’s reached a state of emergency, or crisis. If humans don’t do something about it now, the consequences may be catastrophic. To unpack this further, ‘climate’ in its simplistic term refers to earth’s entire system. It is a complex system influenced by many factors. This includes the atmosphere, land, oceans, snow, ice and ecosystems. It should also be noted that global conditions have an impact on weather patterns and climate varies from region to region. Perhaps one of the most fundamental points to note is the interconnectedness of the climate; if one component changes, this influences the whole system.

Climate change is a naturally occurring process due to the small variations in the planet’s orbit, but since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, growing evidence suggests that the current cycle or trend is due to human impact, primarily due to the increase in the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, as well as our use of land, etc.

Lisa Jade Hutchings, founder and head ginger of GingerBiscuit

” – Unknown

#COVID&CLIMATE “Everything we do today is geared toward ensuring a safer and more productive tomorrow. Our sustainability is founded on creative, mutually constructive relationships and common values with our stakeholders.” Exxaro Some of the human activities that contribute to climate change include electricity and/ or energy generation, transportation, and land uses such as agriculture, forestry (deforestation) and others such as waste. So what does this have to do with the events industry? It’s really quite simple. The business events space is one of the only industries whose primary focus is that of other brands. In short, when other businesses are affected, we feel it, as our client base dries up. In addition to that, events can impact on not only the environment but also the communities that host them in a relatively short space of time. Think about the amount of waste, for example, that a single large event can produce. In short, our very survival as a species depends on the planet – and through that, our livelihoods and that which we so dearly love. The climate crisis is also fundamentally linked to the social aspect of society. Studies have

shown that while we will all be affected by the effects of climate change, marginalised and oppressed groups, such as people of colour and women, are most likely to be hit the hardest to begin with – there is no escaping this. If Covid-19 has given us anything, it is an opportunity to rethink the system, how we function as an industry therein, as well as the impact we stand to make. It has also taught us that we can deploy mass mobilisation and adapt accordingly in the face of a global crisis. ENTER SUSTAINABILITY Sustainability may be loosely defined as the ability to meet today’s needs, without compromising the needs of the future. Three pillars of sustainability exist – environmental, social and economic. In order for something to be truly sustainable in nature, these pillars need to be considered, incorporated and implemented along every step of the journey.

So, what does sustainability in action look like within the events space? Storytelling is an incredible medium to connect with people. Events are one such resource utilised in the GingerBiscuit toolkit when engaging in creative actions that aim to inspire, tell a story and prompt real action and awareness. Through our fusion of being both specialised sustainability and event professionals, we work with organisations and individuals alike in order to bring this vision to fruition, not only within our company but also through partnerships and collaborations. One such event to demonstrate sustainability in action within the events space was the Exxaro 2020 Sustainability Summit. For the 2020 Sustainability Summit, Exxaro took its commitment to sustainability further by choosing to implement various event greening practices into the summit, thus further demonstrating its dedication by walking the talk through tangible action. GingerBiscuit was subcontracted to design, strategise, implement, manage and monitor the overall sustainability for the summit by Event Wizards – the event management company selected by the client for this particular event – under project lead Herkie Du Preez. In addition, we also had the opportunity to work alongside all event suppliers, Greg McManus from The Heritage Environmental Management Company, who undertook the role as the event’s sustainability auditor, as well as Joe Public, which conceptualised the theme – The Future Now – and elements to bring Exxaro’s philosophy on sustainability to life. Fusing sustainability into an event from a level of managing




the social, environmental and economic impacts/benefits of the gathering is a fully collaborative effort – it takes the buy-in of the whole team, as well as the client, to implement the decided-upon actions and management efforts, which are in themselves very much dependent on what the event greening goals are. While GingerBiscuit set the tone for the overall sustainability of the event objectives, every single supplier, service provider and contributor came together to create something spectacular. What also made this event so special was that the client’s commitment to the overall greening process, as well as sustainability, was nothing short of remarkable! Across Exxaro’s sustainability pillars, the organisation is driven by the belief that what we do now is critical – our today is our tomorrow, our present is our future. The overall audit results for the sustainability of the Exxaro 2020 Sustainability Summit met a 98.7% level of compliance – an almost perfect score. The unique package GingerBiscuit formulated for this event was as follows, in no particular order:


• overall event sustainability strategy • PR and communications support/guidance in line with the overall event sustainability vision/goal • marketing support/guidance relating to the areas pertaining to sustainability of the event • in-depth consulting surrounding the various event greening initiatives • sustainable event planning and coordination (both on- and off-site – pre, during and post event, as well as for the legacy project leading up to the event) • vision statement development and implementation • a unique and customised event handbook specifically focused on sustainability, which is part of the GingerBiscuit event strategy • legacy project development and implementation in partnership with the Hennops Revival NPO, translating into a river clean-up of the surrounding areas • visual and written feedback reporting • administration relating to sustainability • supplier support and guidance to meet the overall target of the event • data collection for the appointed and independent event auditors, in relation to

administration/planning, finite resource use, logistics, marketing, etc. The remarkable story and example of the Exxaro 2020 Sustainability Summit demonstrates that sustainability can indeed be achieved and that a difference can be made through collaboration, team effort and the client’s commitment, while seeing the bigger picture. Now, more than ever, this is needed. IN THE END The Covid-19 pandemic has not only exposed society’s weak spots, but also our own as an industry. It is time we get vulnerable and real with ourselves and, through this, open our industry and us as professionals up to the many new postpandemic possibilities that exist, starting with having the difficult conversations. We have been given a massive opportunity to reshape, innovate and tell a different story with action; change is only seen as a threat to those who are unable to see the opportunities that lie therein. We have a responsibility not only to ourselves, but more profoundly to our clients, society and the impact our space has on the world – be clear about our purpose. While much focus has been given to environmental sustainability in the past, and this must continue, alongside our improvement thereof, in moving forward, particular emphasis should be placed on the other pillars of sustainability too – both social and economic. In addition, we cannot be putting solutions in place that do not take into consideration the fundamentals of human rights, such as diversity, inclusion and doing away with systems that uphold oppression, as these are directly interlinked with the climate crisis. What impact will this action have on the environment and communities that host our events? Whose voice is missing and excluded from the table? Where can we do better? These are just some of the questions we will have to ask and continue to ask moving forward. Make no mistake – it is a system we operate in; to do it differently, we have to actually be different. After Covid-19, we will have to make some subtle and some bolder and ambitious changes within the events space. And in relation to sustainability in particular, we will no doubt be able to draw on past experiences while moving forward and adapting accordingly. Sustainability is a journey, not a destination – it is constantly changing and evolving with the times. The world waits for no one; do not allow yourself to be left behind.


AN ALL-ROUND APPROACH Bheki ‘Ma-Events’ Twala, co-founder and executive director at the Township Events Business Council SA, has enjoyed a career in the events industry that spans 30 years. He talks to Meetings magazine on the importance of stimulating the local events sector.


heki Twala’s passion for events is tangible and, after spending three decades entrenched in the industry, he has become well known by Soweto’s community as ‘Ma-Events’ Twala. “It all started in 1990, when I was still at school. I started a youth club called the Best of Mates and registered it as an NGO,” he tells Meetings magazine. In 1993, Bheki received the Community Builder of the Year Award in the Youth Category. The awards were one of Dr Aggrey Klaaste’s nation-building initiatives that were launched as a partnership between the then local television channel CCTV, Old Mutual and the Sowetan newspaper. “The following year, I was asked to join Fabiq & Pead Marketing. At the time, they were responsible for the management of all Soweto’s nation-building events and projects, and it was here where I was then exposed to the professional events industry,” Bheki recalls.


In 1997, Bheki launched Zakheni Investments, his own events consulting business, after identifying the need for better representation and increased visibility of events taking place at a grassroots level. “The township events industry is one of the major contributors to our local townships’ tourism and hospitality sectors, which in turn impacts GDP. This is also key because events have huge potential to create jobs and limit the social ills in communities,” says Bheki. Home-grown events are also a platform

for promoting townships’ local brands and showcasing up-and-coming talent, Bheki explains. “Township events play a massive and critical role in growing townships as tourism destinations of choice for both local and international business and leisure tourists,” he adds.


Bheki is playing a role in driving the establishment of structures such as industry chambers and councils, starting with South Africa’s largest township, Soweto. Bheki’s involvement within the live events sector in Soweto in particular has helped grow the local industry to where it is today. He has been part of launching many notable events, such as the Soweto Marathon and the Soweto Ink tattoo festival that took place last year. He now has his sights set on developing and rolling out training and education programmes centred on events, as well as building up the business events industry in Soweto. “We are sharing our industry experience and expertise with aspiring event professionals, and I am using coaching as a strategy to achieve the objective of turning townships into attractive destinations for events,” Bheki notes. His vision is to grow and preserve the industry for generations to come and to change the face and narrative of our townships. “We know that the events industry has huge untapped potential and presents a unique opportunity for greater social cohesion,” he concludes.


Follow Ma-Events on social media using the hashtags:

Dr Aggrey Klaaste was the editor of the Sowetan between 1988 and 2002. He was a strong proponent of the concept of nationbuilding and deeply committed to recognising a truly free and democratic South Africa.

#WeAreTownshipEventsIndustry #WeAreTownshipEventsEconomy #IAmSoweto!

@Ma-Events Twala!!! +27 (0)63 539 3321

The township events industry is one of the major contributors to our local townships’ tourism and hospitality sectors, which in turn impacts GDP. This is also key because events have huge potential to create jobs and limit the social ills in communities.”




WELCOME TO THE HOTEL COVID-19 With Level 1 lockdown regulations coming into effect on 20 September 2020, Meetings calls on some of South Africa’s hotels to understand what guests can expect.



n 30 August 2020, Meetings magazine had the privilege of being invited as the first guests to experience the reopening of Sun City Resort. With an early morning start accompanied by a delicious cappuccino and the tail-end of a cold front, we begin making our journey across Gauteng’s provincial border into the North West province – the furthest either of us have travelled in the five months of lockdown. We are greeted by staff at the entrance of the resort who take our temperatures and sanitise our hands. We are walked through a screening questionnaire on our general health before being directed through the gates to make our way to the Palace of the Lost City, all with our masks of course. In the time we travel from the gate to the hotel, we see at least two dozen Sun International branded posters on street poles reminding us of the protocols in place at the resort. Upon arrival at the Palace, our luggage is sanitised and placed on a trolley ready to be taken up to our rooms. Our hands are sanitised at the entrance to the hotel, after which we


then proceed to reception to check in. Floor stickers are placed at a distance as a guide for social distancing between guests, with clear signage at reception to once again remind us of the protocols we can expect. After check-in, we are shown to our rooms, which have a sticker ‘sealing’ each room from contamination. Absolutely everything in the room, from the TV remote to the coffee and tea items, is covered or sealed, thus ensuring the ultimate safety of guests and staff.


With an official welcome from Da Mamba, entertainer and MC, and a word from Ugen Govender, CFO at Sun City Resort, we are treated to a delicious lunch with an assortment of delectable dishes – ranging from a seafood bake to beef curry and stewed lamb. Chefs assist by opening covered pots of food and dishing up each of our preferences. Juice, water and other drinks are sealed and opened by guests, with a sealed pack of cutlery, salt and pepper given to each of us. Desserts such as mini cheesecakes and

custards are beautifully laid out under a clear cover for us to make our selection. After lunch, we are taken on a tour of Sun City Resort’s hotspots, including the Sun Vacation Club and one of the main attractions – the casino. The measures implemented here are impressive, with screens, wipes and strict social distancing at slot machines to allow guests to enjoy themselves while being reassured of their safety and well-being. After the tour, we are treated to a game drive in the Pilanesberg National Park courtesy of Mankwe Game Trackers. Prior to the experience, we are sent a questionnaire and advised on Mankwe’s protocols, which require each person to wear a mask and ensure limited numbers in each vehicle, which is open on all sides. Although nerve-racking, we have a close-up encounter with a herd of female elephants and calves that’s not to be missed. Overall, the experience is a real treat, particularly after being cooped up for so long during the stricter levels of lockdown. Guests are reassured that there is a measure in place at each potential point of exposure, and the management and staff of the resort should be commended on doing an exceptional job of implementing the various protocols currently being followed.


CLICO HOTEL, ROSEBANK, GAUTENG Tucked away in the leafy avenues of Rosebank lies Clico Hotel – a boutique gem with just nine rooms. As we arrive at the hotel, our hands are sanitised and temperatures taken before we’re asked to fill in a form and provide details of both our residential and work addresses.Clico’s GM, Jaco Wheeler, explains that this is for contact tracing, should any guests or members of staff who exhibit symptoms of the novel coronavirus come in close proximity to each other. The hotel also has a strict ‘no mask, no service’ policy and all guests and staff are required to wear an appropriate face covering if they are outside of their rooms. At the entrance to the reception area, Clico Hotel has a no-touch step sanitiser, many of which are found dotted around the venue at key entry and exit points. It is recommended that guests take up their own luggage but Clico will sanitise and bring this up to rooms on request. Guests and patrons are also advised on the hotel’s no-contact policy and, for this reason, much of the check-in process is handled electronically and ahead of arrival. Keys are then left in each room to minimise physical contact. Conveniently, Clico Hotel owns a fogging business and all rooms are sanitised and sealed for 24 hours prior to a guest’s arrival. Workers are suited up in full PPE and will fog the room around normal housekeeping to ensure best practice in hygiene and cleanliness. Guests can then decide if they want their rooms cleaned every day or not at all.

Small meetings of 24 people (typically 50 without social distancing) are possible at Clico, depending on the seating style. The hotel’s conferencing venue has an interesting modern-meets-rustic feel, and its use of heavy wood, unusual light fittings and hanging wallflower boxes gives the space a natural look and feel. The venue is also equipped with the conferencing essentials such as a projector, Wi-Fi and stationery, and catering is available through the Clico Restaurant. Clico’s restaurant, like the hotel, has a ‘no mask, no service’ policy and screening is mandatory for each diner. The space can typically seat 42 people but with the current protocols in place, numbers are capped at 24 if all guests are indoors and 28 if using the area outside. The existing setup was already well suited to social distancing measures; tables are 900 mm x 900 mm, meaning that each person is at a sufficient distance from another. To limit exposure between diners at the restaurant and guests at the hotel, separate entrances are used. The restaurant has also expanded its service offering to cater for deliveries as an option for its regular patrons. Upon each guest’s departure, their temperature will be taken again; should anyone feel unwell, Clico will advise them to be tested. They will then begin a contact tracing exercise if need be, thus ensuring the complete safety of each guest and staff member.




A YEAR TO END THEM ALL 2020 has, undoubtedly, proved to be the toughest of years for the MICE industry, so is it fitting to host a yearend function to conclude the end of it all? Meetings learns more.


he year 2020 is one that will not be forgotten easily. It is a year that has been a game changer, and as we start picking up the pieces of what was preCovid-19 life, we are reminded just how drastically the lay of the land has shifted.

A year ago, if we were told that we would need to wear masks wherever we go and that by not seeing our friends and family, it would be the ultimate way to show we care for their well-being, it would have sounded preposterous. The practicality of living in

a pandemic era has, however, made this a reality. Typically, during this time of year, event organisers, service providers and venues are abuzz with plans for upcoming year-end functions and specials. This year, however, is vastly different.


To delve deeper into where the sentiment is around year-end functions, we featured a poll on The Planner Guru’s Facebook page in early August, which revealed that 60% of our audience is likely to have a year-end function, while the remaining 40% is not. This shows that, while the majority has something in the works – for staff, clients or both – a significant grouping does not believe that the end of the year will be celebrated in the same way. Understandably, budgets for ‘fun’ activities such as year-end parties may have been redirected towards ensuring businesses are able to stay afloat... but should provisions be made for an experience that concludes what has been a very difficult year?


According to South African entertainer Marcel Oudejans, here are seven benefits of hosting a year-end function:




You have an opportunity to learn more about people outside of the typical ‘work’ environment. This means you can get to understand the person better and have a better chance of relating to him or her in the future. (This is true for both staff and clients.) You can really show people how much you appreciate their work or their support. Even though you can say thank you on the phone or via email, demonstrating your appreciation is very powerful. Your guests have the opportunity to discuss ideas, give feedback or make suggestions in an environment that is normally more ‘open’ than at the office. When people are relaxed and having fun, they’re more likely to offer an honest opinion, so keep your ears open for things that a person would not normally say. You may learn a thing or two! Use the event to re-affirm your company’s dedication to its purpose by ensuring that everyone is made aware of what you offer, and what the benefits of working with you are. This can take the form of a speech, presentation or even a video. Don’t waste this opportunity to capitalise on your audience’s attention! Since you’ve already spent the money on hosting the event, you must make sure that everyone remembers not only how much they enjoyed themselves, but also who you are and the reason for the event. Celebrate your achievements! Use the opportunity to share results, like your sales figures, special projects you’ve completed, or client video testimonials. Inspire your staff and clients by demonstrating the advantages of working with your company. Remember that we live vicariously through others, so a few honest testimonials from satisfied customers will encourage clients to continue their relationship with you, prospects will see the value of doing business, and your staff will see the ‘bigger picture’ of how their work impacts on their customers. Differentiate your company from your competition by making a special effort to give something personal and entertaining, so that everyone has fond memories of the event. “Same is lame,” and if you don’t make the effort to make your function at least a bit special, your guests are unlikely to have any recollection of even having attended. Considering how much money you’re probably spending, you’ll agree that it is of utmost importance that everyone leaves with a special reason to remember you and your company. Being part of an event is FUN! We know that happy employees are more productive and the idea of having a company-sponsored celebration can be a good motivator for you and your staff. It’s something to look forward to, and the promise of being able to experience something fun and different can be a good reason to reach your sales targets or to cut unnecessary expenses. Remember, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy!”

2 3



While the benefits of hosting a year-end function cannot be denied, together with a rapidly evolving landscape, year-end parties and celebrations involving any group are going to have to change for the foreseeable future. For those who are fortunate enough to be in a position where they are able to host a year-end function, innovations in technology can address the formalities associated with this type of occasion, such as speeches and presentations, while personalised deliveries can be made to ensure there is a more tangible element for your guests.




With thanks to magician and corporate entertainer Marcel Oudejans for sharing his thoughts. For more information, visit

If you are particularly experienced in event planning, or are meticulous about planning a budget, you may very well work within the estimated figures; however, it is not unreasonable to plan for a 10-15% variance on your original budget





There’s very little that can replace the impact of in-person meetings, conventions, exhibitions, says Chat’r CEO John Arvanitakis. So how do we ensure we keep up the spirit of eventing while we adjust to shifting goalposts?

The right touch H

umans are social beings who thrive off physical contact and authentic human interaction. It is well known that most people make decisions based on how they feel, and this is difficult to achieve via an email, phone call, or even online meetings facilitated by platforms such as Zoom. As part of the bigger picture, meetings and business events are a driving factor in our economy, as large-scale events and conferences fuel trading and commerce. They also have a direct impact on the South African business tourism, leisure travel and entertainment industries.

THE DOWNTURN When the hard lockdown was announced in March this year, the MICE industry came to a screeching halt; all gatherings such as events, conferences, exhibitions, weddings, church groups, celebrations, and incentives were cancelled within 48 hours of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement.


Certain players within the industry have made attempts to stay afloat and pivot their direction via online platforms. Chat’r is no exception to this and, through the launch of Chat’r TV, we have also been hard at work to provide an offering that means events can still continue. With the recent announcement that the country will be moving to Level 1 of lockdown and that indoor events of 250 people and outdoor events of 500 will be permitted, the industry can start to move slowly out of its doldrums. As positive as this step is, the industry is still far from where it was prior to Covid-19 and we still have a long way to go before large-scale events and exhibitions will be allowed.

A REALISTIC TAKE The reality of where we are currently is that many of the business events sector’s smaller players have had no choice but to shut their doors, while larger organisations are downsizing and retrenching. Indirectly,

we are seeing the effect on the country’s business dealings, as well as the total slump on inbound business tourism, which has a huge impact on the economy. What we were working toward prior to lockdown has been fast-tracked by the pandemic and national lockdown, and we are that much closer to bringing to life the virtual attendance of conferences and exhibitions using technologies that will someday include VR headsets and eventually even AR technology. For now, we see our role as helping the industry to survive and recover during this time, by making the Chat’r TV virtual offering available as best we can. However, in the long run, our mission is to help facilitate a mindset change, which has already begun to occur, and this is what will usher in a new era of eventing: the hybrid event.

A LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL We believe that the future is bright for the MICE industry and that after a period

#CHAT’R “The industry as a whole is going to need to work hard and be united to recover and grow in the years to come.” of recovery and hard work, our events, conferences and exhibitions will be even better than before. We would like to see the industry take the tools, resources and lessons learned during this difficult time and apply these to a new way of approaching business entirely. We envision hybrid events becoming the norm: delegates attending real in-person events, while others opt to attend remotely from the comfort of their homes or offices. Essentially, events may become global, with attendees logging in from all over the world, without having to travel a single mile. Obviously, the current restrictions placed on the number of delegates able to attend

indoors and 500 outdoors has opened a small gap for business events to resume, the change is minimal and our associations – such

the ban that some of our source markets for international delegates have placed on travel to and from South Africa. The South African government’s restrictions on the number of delegates able to attend exhibitions and trade shows also places hosting large international events, exhibitions and conventions under threat, heavily impacting on the business tourism industry – especially since so many of our international delegates opt to tour our beautiful country while here.


events, especially for large-scale events such as exhibitions, still pose the greatest threat. While allowing meetings of up to 250 people

as SAACI, AAXO and the SA Events Council – are hard at work urging the government to take a different approach. This hopes to allow for larger events and exhibitions to resume to an extent, such as allowing a 50% of total occupancy of meeting venues. Another stumbling block to our growth and recovery is

Besides getting the government to further open up our MICE sector, the industry as a whole is going to need to work hard and be united to recover and grow in the years to come. We’ll need to have all meetings and conference associations on board, as well those directly involved with marketing South Africa as a business tourism and meetings destination, such as the South Africa National Convention Bureau (SANCB) and SA Tourism. PCOs will also need as much support as they can get in bidding for international events. Despite being a long-haul destination for international visitors, there is no reason why South Africa’s MICE industry cannot fully recover; given our beautiful country, favourable weather conditions, our worldclass venues/facilities and an extremely favourable foreign currency exchange rate, there is so much our industry has to offer.



P R O O F O F C O N C E P T: S A A C I

THE PROOF OF THE PUDDING Activity within the business events industry may be limited by lockdown restrictions but, with two proof of concept hybrid events under its belt, it is showcasing incredible innovation.


n Wednesday, 22 July 2020, the Southern African Association for the Conference Industry (SAACI) organised the Proof of Concept event in collaboration with the South African Events Council and in association with the Events Safety Council. The hybrid event took place in five major city centres across South Africa, as well as online, with the aim of demonstrating to the industry that events can be safely held during lockdown while observing all social distancing protocols. “The work we undertook in preparation for SAACI’s recently held Proof of Concept event provided the opportunity for us to work with various disaster management teams around


the country on how we delivered the event,” explains Glenton de Kock, CEO of SAACI. The in-person elements were hosted at Century City Conference Centre in Cape Town, Southern Sun Elangeni & Maharani in Durban, the Focus Rooms in Johannesburg, Running Waters Exclusive Venue in Port Elizabeth, and the CSIR International Convention Centre in Pretoria. Live-streaming was managed overall by Magnetic Storm and supported by Multi-Media in Cape Town, while Selbys assisted in Durban; AV Active stepped in to support Johannesburg, with Magnetic Storm driving the entirety of Port Elizabeth’s digital component and EPH Group supporting Pretoria.

ABIDING BY REGULATIONS The Proof of Concept event saw just over 500 people in attendance, with 250 people attending in-person and a further 305 attendees streaming the event online. “We are very cognisant of the fact that the pandemic is only now really on the rise in South Africa and it is not business as usual. We have a deep commitment to putting the well-being of our clients and guests before any of our own business imperatives and take a long-term view in monitoring and controlling the situation in our facilities,” notes Bronwen Cadle de Ponte, GM at the CSIR ICC. One of the key takeaways from the Proof of Concept event was that hybridised events are significantly more sustainable, as this reduces the event’s carbon footprint enormously. This also ties into the costs associated with hosting an event; by going hybrid, both the costs and carbon footprint contributors associated with venue hire, travel, accommodation, catering and other waste such as printed matter are immediately slashed. Additionally, digital and hybrid events can increase accessibility and reach, with geography no longer being a barrier for those who are not able to attend physically. Event technology is also increasing in popularity, with the use of online registrations and apps eliminating the need for brochures and programmes.


A worthy win On 1 September, the PCO Alliance Network hosted its hybrid Proof of Concept event in collaboration with key industry bodies. Meetings magazine delivers the highlights.


pring Day was welcomed by the PCO Alliance Network’s Reignite your Business Proof of Concept event, which showcased the readiness of the MICE industry in being able to safely host a live event during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown. The event was hosted in partnership with Focus Rooms, The Capital Hotel Group and Cape Town International Convention Centre, which staged the event across five different venues, effectively demonstrating that the events industry is ready to open safely. Adopting the SA Event Council Safety

Guidelines, which were drafted during lockdown by the Event Safety Council, the organisers found the use of this document imperative in their preparation for an event in the current climate. “Yes, we have had to change our thinking and mindset – the stringent event safety protocols add an additional layer on to the safety protocols we have always used. As event organisers, planning is what we do best, and the safety of all our participants is of utmost importance,” highlighted Ellen Oosthuizen, chairperson of PCO Alliance. The catalyst for Reignite your Business was the Proof of Concept event organised by the Southern African Association for the Conference Industry (SAACI) in July under the auspices of the

SA Events Council. While the Proof of Concept conference specifically targeted conferencing stakeholders, Reignite Your Business was aimed at building confidence in the ability of the events industry to mount safe events for the corporate sector as well. An example of the ‘new normal’ multi-venue, hybrid event, the main performance hub was hosted in the Focus Rooms in Johannesburg and streamed to all other venues between 09:00 and 14:30. Attendees in each venue also enjoyed live entertainment in-person. At the Focus Rooms, there were musicians entertaining on arrival, with Duane Rockwell as MC and an interactive game show. The Capital On The Park’s arrival entertainment was provided by Kristel Birkholtz with MC/comedian Farai, followed by a Blue Naartjie Events team-building activity after lunch. The Capital Menlyn provided arrival entertainment by Jacques Lagesse and MC Henry Motau. Following lunch, live entertainment was provided by Christina Rodriquez & Team, while entertainment at The Capital Pearls Umhlanga was provided by the School of Arts. CTICC’s guests were entertained by Elton, with MC Ernest van Sitter. In the afternoon, comedian Alan Committee had the audience in stitches. The PCO Alliance’s Reigniting your Business event was not to be missed. “All the entertainers, performers, suppliers and venues contributed their services to build confidence so that we can all get back to business. We are committed to rebuilding the events industry and I am confident that we can safely host corporate events once again,” concluded Ellen.

ABOUT THE SA EVENTS COUNCIL The PCO Alliance is one of 13 associations that form part of the SA Events Council – an industry-wide coalition uniting the broader events industry to speak with a unified voice. The council has representation from the Southern African Association for the Conference Industry (SAACI), the Association of African Exhibition Organisers (AAXO), Exhibition and Events Association of Southern Africa (EXSA), Southern African Communications Industries Association (SACIA), Technical Production & Services Association (TPSA), the Event Safety Council (ESC), Council of Events Professionals Africa (CEPA), Event Greening Forum (EGF), Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (SITE), Professional Conference Organisers’ Alliance Network (PCOAN), Professional Speakers Association of Southern Africa (PSASA), the International Congress and Conventions Association (ICCA) and the South African Live Performance Association (SALPA).




With digital and virtual events becoming all the rage, Meetings looks at just some of the requirements associated with planning and budgeting for a virtual event.


he Covid-19 pandemic has taught events professionals a thing or two, particularly how to innovate. Lockdown restrictions and social distancing protocols have meant that in-person events are now taking a backseat to virtual and digital experiences, which is uncharted territory for some. For event planners and organisers, the rules of engagement haven’t changed – just the means. The objectives of hosting events on a digital platform of sorts remain focused on delivering the same outcomes of live events,


which are centred on creating in-depth, impactful and meaningful discussions. Within this, budgeting for aspects such as venue hire, decor and catering fall away and shift to finding the most suitable tech solution to support your event.

KEY CONSIDERATIONS Start with the basics of when your event will take place and the timelines you are working towards. Look at how long you want your event to be, who your audience is, and how many sessions and speakers you will have.

Unpack what type of sessions you want to include – general, breakout, or light-hearted and interactive – and what will be most fitting for your attendees? To take this one step further, Endless Events, a US-based events production company, has put together the following handy list of considerations for planning virtual events:

If anything were possible, what would the virtual experience look like? Virtual events offer a lot of new possibilities, so imagine that anything were possible for your event, without technological or budgetary


struggling with several aspects. Think about them and write them down so you can present them when meeting with a virtual event production company.

the AV and production section of your inperson experience.

What part of your event gives you the largest ROI? Ideally, you’ll be able to

are the parts you’ll want to go seamlessly, so it is paramount that you share the information with the people who’ll be putting the event together!

replicate the most profitable parts of your in-person event in your virtual event. Consider what they are and why they are indeed the most important!

What are the goals of your virtual event? In the same way your in-person events have goals, so do your virtual ones. What’s the why behind it?

What specific organisation goals will this event help you achieve? What will attendees accomplish by attending your event? Why should people take the time of day to attend your event? Compile a list and make it convincing!

Who are your attendee personas?

constraints. This will be a great starting point for what you’d want your virtual event to look like. Think about what metrics you want to closely monitor throughout the experience: the number of attendees, sales, engagement, profit, new contacts – whatever is relevant to you and your organisation.

What are you struggling with most planning a virtual event? Assuming this is your first virtual event, you’re probably

Define your attendee personas the same way you would in a regular situation. Who are they? What are their jobs? Their interests? Know exactly who you’re trying to captivate with this event so you can relay the information when meeting with a virtual event production company. Who is on the team? Who are all the people involved in planning the event and what are their roles?

Do you have a ballpark number for the budget of your virtual event? If you are working with a production company, giving them an idea of your budget is extremely important. This way, they know what will and won’t be possible for your virtual event. Think about how much you have budgeted for each individual chunk of the event. If you’re not sure, tell them what the number was for

What are the most important points of the show for your attendees? These

START AT THE BEGINNING Once you have conceptualised your event and thoroughly understood all your considerations, list each line item – detailing and documenting all your costs on a spreadsheet. This is an easy way to start calculating your budget, as it gives a simple overview of each item and the related costs. If you are working with a team, create a document that is accessible in the cloud – on Google Drive or something similar. Get into the nitty gritty and small and potentially unforeseen costs by being as clear and specific as possible. Avoid lumping items together and break down each one with actual and estimated costs as a reference for the future, so that you can get an idea for the discrepancies between these two margins. It is also recommended that you conduct due diligence by sourcing alternative quotes to better understand what market-related pricing you can expect. Shop around for reputable suppliers and research reviews to ensure that you will receive quality service. Be especially choosey when it comes to the platform you will be using to host your virtual events and understand all the requirements you will need, from connectivity to equipment such as webcams and mics – it is critical that you put together a quality broadcast for your audience in order to provide the most seamless experience possible.




East African infusion East Africa is home to an assortment of exciting experiences. Meetings goes on an expedition to unearth the region’s most spectacular attractions.


hile international travel appears uncertain, considering East Africa as a destination for when borders do open and the time is right can provide the perfect international experience that is not too far from home. With an ever-improving investment climate and burgeoning business prospects, a sizeable portion of Africa’s top 10 fastest growing economies can be found within the East African


region, making it an attractive destination in which to work and play.

ETHIOPIA Ethiopia is looking seriously at MICE prospects as part of its economic agenda and has a 10-year vision in place to roll out various strategies to bolster the sector. With the African Union’s headquarters based in its capital city, the country has received an increasing amount of

international focus. Although travel is currently restricted to the country, national carrier Ethiopian Air is recognised as the best on the continent. Ethiopia is a sizeable country and, with a population of 109 million people, it has incredible history behind it. Artefacts as old as 2.6 million years – the world’s oldest – have been found in Gona, helping archaeologists understand stone technology and human evolution. In the north of Ethiopia, in the Lasta Amhara region, lies Lalibela. With 11 ancient churches that date back to the 12th and 13th centuries, the structures have been carved and chiselled from a single rock. The largest, Bete Georgis, stands at an awe-inspiring 40 feet high.


One of the world’s oldest active volcanoes, Erta Ale, can be found in the Danakil Depression in the Afar region of Ethiopia. It is also only one of four active lava lakes in the north-eastern part of the country. The volcano was formed between the divergence of three tectonic plates in the Horn of Africa. Alienesque in appearance, with its salt mines and unusually colourful landscape, the Danakil Depression is the hottest place on earth, where temperatures soar over 50°C in the summer.

KENYA Sharing its borders with Ethiopia, South Sudan, Somalia, Tanzania and Uganda, Kenya offers a wide range of experiences spanning bush, beach and inner-city escapades. The country’s MICE industry is growing rapidly and has garnered global attention as a destination. According to the Kenya Tourism Board, over the past three years, the nation has successfully hosted a number of international meetings, conferences and exhibitions, which have attracted more than 100 000 international delegates and significantly contributed to Kenya’s travel and tourism industries. Kenya is blessed with an abundance of natural attractions, with one of its greatest being the

EAST AFRICA AT A GLANCE East Africa’s landscape has been shaped by global plate tectonic movement that has resulted in the creation of the East African Rift. The region is home to two of Africa’s tallest peaks: Mount Kilimanjaro (5 885 m) and Mount Kenya (3 825 m). As part of its natural bounty, East Africa also includes Lake Victoria, the world’s second largest freshwater lake, and Lake Tanganyika, which is the world’s second deepest lake.

Maasai Mara National Reserve. Each year between July and October, approximately 2 million wildebeest make the Great Migration across the Serengeti National Park to the Maasai Mara – an impressive spectacle that can be viewed during a game drive or from a hot air balloon. Kenya is also home to some of Africa’s most idyllic beaches and, 30 km south of Mombasa, Diani provides a 17 km stretch of white sandy beaches and clear waters protected by a coral reef. Diani’s coastline is dotted with trendy beachfront bars and restaurants, as well as an assortment of outdoor activities such as jetskiing, kite surfing, sky diving and snorkelling.

RWANDA Rwanda is making a name for itself internationally. Prior to Covid-19, the small East African nation was on track to generate US$88 million (R1.47 billion) in revenue from its MICE industry. The nation has made remarkable strides, both as an economy and as one of Africa’s

leading MICE destinations – in 2016, the Kigali International Conference Centre (KICC) was officially launched by Rwanda’s president, Paul Kagame. The KICC complex is an experience in itself and comprises: a conference centre with seating capacity of 2 600; the five-star, 292-room Radisson Blu Hotel Kigali; the Kigali Information Technology Park, with 32 200 m2 of office and retail space; as well as a museum on the bottom floor of the office park. Rwanda is popular among nature lovers and conservationists, and the country has dedicated




the country’s top travel hotspots – a fourhour ferry ride or a 40-minute flight from the mainland. At 83 km in length, Zanzibar Island, or Unguja, is the main island. The top attraction here, Stone Town, forms part of Zanzibar City. Its Swahili name, Mji Mkongwe, translates to ‘old town’ and, as the island’s oldest trade centre, it is steeped in history. With narrow winding alleys and ornate architecture, there are notable historical sites not to be missed, including the House of Wonders – a former sultan’s palace with a clocktower, while a cultural centre and stone amphitheatre can be found at the Old Fort.

resources to protecting its gorilla population – of which there are 459 individuals. One of the areas in which the gorillas can be seen is the Volcanoes National Park, where visitors can also visit one of five extinct volcanoes, with its highest point, Mount Karisimbi, stretching 4 507 m into the sky. The park covers an area of 125 km2 and is home to 178 bird species and other mammals such as the golden monkey and buffalo. It forms part of the Virunga Conservation Area, which stretches into the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Established in 1925, this was one of the first protected areas in Africa.

SEYCHELLES At the edge of the eastern border of the Somali Sea, in the Indian Ocean, lies the Seychelles archipelago. Comprised of 115 islands and with year-long temperatures that average 27°C, the Seychelles is perhaps the balmiest island escape among East Africa’s MICE destinations. Many of the Seychelles’ hotels are equipped to host meetings and conferences, and the islands are ideal for exciting incentive experiences. With major carriers such as British Airways, Air France and Ethiopian Air flying to the island republic, the Seychelles is accessible. Seychelles International Airport (SEZ) is located on the mountainous Mahé island and its capital, Victoria,


is just 10 km from the airport. Depending on whether you’re travelling to another island, you will need to get there by boat or plane. For those travelling by boat, a free shuttle service runs between SEZ and the harbour. Go island hopping and take a trip to Praslin island, home to the Coco de Mer – a coconut tree with the world’s largest seed. The enormous seed is abundant within the Valley de Mai, a Unesco World Heritage Site and a protected area.



With so much to see and do in Tanzania, the country is emerging as an attractive upand-coming MICE destination in East Africa, particularly around Arusha, which is within proximity to attractions such as Mount Kilimanjaro and the Serengeti National Park. Following on from the Covid-19 pandemic, travel restrictions have been lifted and the country is slowly opening up, with 81% of hotels having availability and 36% of flights operational. Continued investment in conferencing facilities and infrastructure around the country’s main business and tourism hubs in Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar is positioning Tanzania as a sought-after international experience. The Zanzibar archipelago is one of

Known as the Pearl of Africa, Uganda has a strong focus on developing its MICE market. According to 2019 statistics from the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA), it is Africa’s sixth most popular destination for hosting international association events – last year, the country hosted 22 international association meetings. With the option of obtaining a visa upon arrival, getting in and out of Uganda is a breeze. The country is equipped to handle both small and large groups of delegates, with add-ons to provide a complete pre- and post-conference solution. Uganda’s central location within Africa also means that delegates have various flight options. Uganda has an assortment of spacious facilities across a variety of venues that are equipped with modern equipment. Together with an exciting range of activities, sights and scenes, the country is well positioned to deliver an exceptional and memorable experience for visitors. From the source of the Nile in the vast Lake Victoria to the snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains, with more than half of Africa’s bird species, Uganda is a true natural wonder. Like Rwanda, the nation is committed to protecting its gorilla populations and poachers will face a lengthy jail sentence if caught harming any of the primates.


A culinary adventure Peter Robertson, executive head chef at Sun City, speaks to Meetings magazine about keeping up with the times and shares his top tips for running a professional kitchen.

How has the food and beverage industry changed over the past five years?


There is a trend towards organic, healthy eating – moving away from gastronomic fine dining.

What are some of the current trends in the food and beverage industry? As a result of Covid-19, chefs have to be more creative – we no longer have the liberty of plating and sending out. When it comes to banqueting, the days of lavish buffet displays have changed to having items individually packaged, which requires more staff involvement. Foods like muffins, croissants, bread, cereal portions and cheese platters are now all individually wrapped. The trend towards more homegrown, seasonal ingredients continues, and food has a more rustic look.

What would you identify as the primary mistake people make when catering for conferencing? This is twofold – one is undercatering (not catering plus 10%) and the other is the impression of food being mass produced by the way it is presented.

How can one present ‘plain’ food in a way that appeals to delegates? By using a more interactive style of serving, with the chef present.

It is all about the theatrics, giving the delegates what they want to see.

With a passion for cooking from a young age, Peter studied at the ML Sultan Hotel School in Durban and continued his studies in Singapore, while working in the official kitchen for Singapore Airlines. He has worked as executive chef for many of South Africa’s leading hotel groups and was the executive chef and catering manager for the Cape Town International Convention Centre. He has a long affiliation with the South African Chefs Association, of which he is currently a director.

What is your favourite dish to make?

Are there any foods you just don’t like?

Green papaya salad – anything Thai.

Overcooked or cold food.

What is your number one catering tip? Use fresh ingredients and connect with your guests to be able to deliver on their expectations. If you can exceed their expectations, you’ve done well.

What is your favourite kitchen equipment or gadget? My regeneration oven, which allows you to plate food cold hours in advance and then put it into the oven and bring it to serving temperature without depleting the quality of your ingredients.

What dish are you asked to make most often? The Palace’s pulled lamb shank dish cooked in butter and pesto. People love it.

Did you eat your veggies as a child?

personal chef when he was in Cape Town. Winning the Chaine des Rôtisseurs competition in Singapore when I worked for Singapore Airlines was also a highlight.

Yes – I loved vegetables and salad.

Who in the food world do you most admire?

What is your favourite food memory?

South Africa has some brilliant chefs, such as Luke Dale Roberts and Pete Goffe-Wood. On an international level, Gordon Ramsay.

Cooking with my grandfather when I was 16 years old in his Chinese restaurant in Durban – The Mandarin Room at the Edward Hotel.

What is one ingredient you cannot cook without? Salt.

When did you know you wanted to be a chef? Probably when I was 14 years old, I used to come home from school and cook meals for myself. I never shared them with my sister, which she still holds against me.

What are your favourite foods to cook with? Scallops, crayfish and crab – but they must be fresh.

What do you think is the most challenging ingredient to work with? Seafood, because you have to know what you’re doing to get the best out of your ingredients – from the way it is cleaned and prepared to the way it is cooked.

What is your favourite food?

What is the proudest moment in your career?

What’s your ‘death row’ meal, as the late Anthony Bourdain put it?

I enjoy chilli, so anything with nice fresh chilli.

There have been many. Cooking for the Dalai Lama and being Madiba’s

Definitely my mother’s cottage pie.




INDUSTRY VIEWS Re-Opening Guidelines

Safety first for the events industry As event specialists, our priorities must focus on the safety of our performers, attendees and practitioners, writes Mike Lord.


s we enter Alert Level 1 in South Africa, the relaxation of regulations around capacity at events has allowed for a 50% venue capacity capped at 250 pax indoors and 500 outdoors. While not ideal for the reopening of the industry, this adjustment has at least allowed for smaller events to start operating albeit not yet at a financially viable level. The events industry is prepared for much larger event capacities limited by floor space rather than a specific number. We anticipate this step to be imminent as the risk of spread diminishes and we learn what protocols we need to have in place to limit spread at organised gatherings. Covid-19 has posed a new and unforeseen risk to our industry. In June, the SA Events Council developed and published a comprehensive set of Re-Opening

MIKE LORD is a board member of SA Events Council.

Guidelines outlining the steps that one can take to enable the safe reopening of events and we are working hard to ensure that the confidence and trust in our ability to keep our events safe grow quickly. The last thing we want as we begin this process is for there to be events that do not adhere to the safety protocols outlined in the guidelines, which pose a risk to attendees and artists resulting in a back-step in the regulations and possible risk liability and reputational risk to those involved. The Re-Opening Guidelines are simple, easily understood and accessible, but thorough, to ensure


enhanced mechanisms are adopted to provide a safe environment and demonstrate a duty of care. Taking into account every step of the event process and mitigating exposure at each juncture, they can be applied universally using the World Health Organization’s five-tier risk level categorisation scale. Of course, at the same time, we need to take into consideration the many differences in event types and audience capacities as well.

COMMUNICATION IS KEY The importance of communication throughout has also proved to be an important factor in building confidence among attendees. We cannot ignore the strong psychological impact of attending an event in the current climate. For many, the initial gatherings with more people than they have been accustomed to after so many months require a big step and one that is accompanied by trepidation and even fear. Building trust and confidence to attend is paramount. When attendees know what to expect before they even arrive on-site and what measures are being undertaken, the stress factor decreases exponentially. Many venues, corporates and caterers have their own sets of safety practices and this is sometimes a stumbling block to align thinking across the sector regionally and nationally. We urge all events organisers to communicate and apply the Re-Opening Guidelines as a foundation standard on every event planned. If necessary, additional venue/ corporate-specific protocols can easily be overlaid to satisfy compliance for all stakeholders, especially meeting the requirements of corporate South Africa and the sponsors involved – thus ensuring the event-specific Covid-19 management plan lays the foundation for a safe event. It is up to each and every meeting planner, event organiser, promoter or production house to selfregulate using these basic safety protocols in the same way we have always done for non-Covid-19-related event safety practices.


INDUSTRY VIEWS What the upcoming conferencing season holds

A fresh start September is typically the month in which activities are relaunched in the northern hemisphere, after a well-deserved summer break. However, this year’s new season is quite different, as the rules of the game have changed, says Allan Agerholm and Sven Bossu.


ALLAN AGERHOLM is the CEO of Bella Center Copenhagen and an AIPC board member.


vent venues worldwide are slowly reopening for business in compliance with strict safety and security protocols, which are different for every country. This makes it complex for both event organisers and venues, who need to deal with an ever-changing and not always rational environment. However, having organised events take place again is of key importance for relaunching the global economy. There is no alternative. Getting back to business in a Covid-19safe environment is not an easy task and venues need to provide their authorities with insights on how and why organised events must take place. AIPC supports this effort by providing clear guidelines and does so in partnership with ICCA and UFI to ensure messages are streamlined and come with a stronger voice.

ASK AND ADVOCATE We need to be asking, and actively advocating, for the trust of our local authorities. We have always looked after the safety and security of our visitors and delegates as our first priority. We will never compromise their safety or our reputation. We need to be allowed to do what we do so well: opening our doors and appropriately managing the congregation of people. All players involved – both within venues and the larger event ecosystem – will need to profoundly rethink how this can be engineered in the best possible way. Classic event business will remain but needs to be enriched with new products and services. For example, technology needs to be deployed to provide a safe and secure environment – such as crowd management tools. This also allows us

to obtain deeper insights into overall participant behaviour. Collecting this data on a continuous basis will allow us to create better delegate experiences and adapt almost instantly when needed. Technology also enables us to increase reach and complement the on-site event with virtual elements, targeting not only professionals who are no longer allowed to travel but also audiences who until now were ‘unserved’, as the on-site experience was simply not accessible, for financial or other reasons. The identification and implementation of these opportunities will result in a new value proposal, with a key focus on engagement, whether through physical or virtual components. As one of our colleagues said during a recent meeting: “We do not run buildings; we manage experiences.” To deliver on this, an even closer partnership between venues, destinations and event organisers is needed – hence organised events become platforms for achieving a multilayered set of goals. Legacies include economic recovery, the creation of jobs, and social and community-based outcomes. This is of course not new – many destinations are already exploring these routes to create other types of value. What is new is the momentum created by the current crisis to rethink and reshape organised events in ways not conceivable six months ago. This is very similar to the fact that nobody had imagined working from home could actually work on such a massive scale – and yet it does. Given the concentration of creative forces within the events ecosystem, we foresee organised events making a comeback – with a twist.




INDUSTRY VIEWS Understanding new world sales behaviours

Shifted approach Salespeople can and must change their approach when selling into the exhibitions industry to safeguard their relationships and grow their portfolios in our ‘new world’, writes Mark Anderson.

R MARK ANDERSON is the treasurer of AAXO.

INDUSTRY VIEWS Build back better

ecently, I had the privilege of joining the team from Flume Sales Training. Our discussion focused on how the process of sales is currently changing and how we, as salespeople, need to adapt and evolve with it. The key driver is that our audience’s behaviour is changing; it is imperative that we keep abreast of these changes and their needs. Clients are very risk averse, and the big focus is now more than ever on ROI. To sell effectively, we need to offer a watertight case when presenting our proposal – an offer that seals the ROI. Sales teams tend to lean on old-school thinking that today only leads you down a rabbit hole. Our go-to tools include: 1. Volume of activity. 2. Keep your focus on the company. 3. It’s all about the product. 4. Always let the client drive the ROI. 5. Ensure your closing techniques are ready and waiting.

Finding the green lining While we consider our post-pandemic recovery, Neo Mohlatlole asks whether this could be an opportunity to reimagine how we can be better than before.


NEO MOHLATLOLE is chair of the EGF Marketing Committee.

The current pandemic has taught sales teams to evolve in this dynamic environment by adding these tools: 1. T ailored activity in the form of personalised introductions – making it all about the client. 2. Role first, then company – asking the right questions, listening and conveying how you can elevate the client in their position. It’s about connecting and being empathetic. 3. All about the audience and client best practice – ensuring you engage the audience in the most relevant manner. 4. Lead your client to drive ROI, and be ready to sell a complete solution. 5. Assist your client in navigating the decisionmaking process. Clients need to understand that the exhibition can assist them in engaging with their industry sector. The sales team reinforces this understanding. It is, therefore, vital that exhibitions deliver on the engagement, to ensure return business.

hile we start to rebuild our businesses and industry, there is an opportunity to look at what wasn’t working before and what we can do better. Improving sustainability within your business is a no-brainer. The three pillars of sustainability are the economic, social and environmental outcomes of your actions. A business that is losing money is not sustainable, but neither is one where the needs of your staff, clients and host community are being overlooked, or where precious environmental resources are compromised. All three pillars need to be supported and balanced against each other; you cannot be sustainable if any of these are disregarded. The economic consequences of our decisions are always easy to track on balance sheets. The social and environmental outcomes are not so black and white – but this doesn’t make them any less real or worth pursuing. So how can you build back better? There are countless ways to do this, and all will depend on your business and its unique needs and opportunities.


However, as a starting point, consider the following: • Draft a sustainability statement for your business. What is important to you, what goals can you set from this, and how can you then achieve these? Share this document and your commitment publicly. • Find the right partners to build a supply chain of businesses that share your values and will support you in achieving your goals. • Ask for it. When you send out an RFP or request a quote, ask what is being done to provide a more sustainable offering. • Offer it. Look for ways that you can be more sustainable. Let your clients know about these opportunities – whether paid-for or as added value.

Receive sustainability ideas and inspiration by signing up for our monthly newsletter at For more information, contact Pippa Naude at the EGF on +27 (0)74 369 6369, or


INDUSTRY VIEWS Looking towards the future

Adapting to survive Business events and meetings will recover, but won’t be quite the same, says Glenton de Kock.




ndoubtedly, the events and exhibitions industry is incredibly resilient, and our human need to interact and exchange information face to face will result in a recovery, in time. However, the impact of Covid-19 will change how we work, forever. For the remainder of the calendar year, we will have to adapt and consider the safety of staff, clients, suppliers and communities, as we proceed in our planning. The Events Safety Council’s Re-Opening Guidelines will assist the sector in how we prepare and care for all involved in our events. Our recovery journey will call on all of us to be open and reasonable, as we need each other, and our recovery may be deep. We encourage members and the business events sector to consult and plan well in advance and to operate with the care of all in mind. Our individual responsibility is to ensure that our work force, clients, partners and community are protected by detailed planning in accessing business events in the coming months.

SAACI’s recently held Proof of Concept event and provided the opportunity for us to work with various disaster management teams around the country on how we delivered the event. All event types have their pros and cons, whether in-person or remote. For organisers, the challenge lies in identifying the meeting model that best suits their needs. Digital is a welcome value-add option but will not replace face-to-face meetings in the future. Overall, it is in everybody’s interest – venues, cities, organisers, exhibitors, companies, airlines and delegates – to get the exhibitions and events industry back to pre-Covid-19 levels of activity. Let’s keep on collaborating!

Checking in The events and travel industry is rapidly changing – now, more than ever, we need to assess where we are and find our footing going forward, says Michelle Hinrichsen.


MICHELLE HINRICHSEN is the current president of Travelbags.

We may find that most people will only attend events that are of true value to them and provide an experiential feeling. The increased use of technology cannot be understated as the sector looks for ways to enhance events, with creative digital marketing campaigns to promote events. The Re-Opening Guidelines proved invaluable during

e all miss travelling and events so much, but the thing I miss the most are the people and interactions that are found at events and networking functions. Travelbags is all about networking, people and fun events. This has been a tough year for us all, but it has encouraged us at Travelbags to try to find alternative methods to network and connect again. We are still witnessing the overwhelming impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic but, little by little, we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. South Africa has considerably eased lockdown levels, and the first live events and conferences are starting to trickle back under the new protocols. However, this is not going to be the start of business as usual for the MICE industry; we need to adapt and change to this new world we live in.

Since mass gatherings have now been proved to be one of the main driving forces of spreading the virus, people will feel reluctant to attend a conference or event in the near future. So, we need to focus on smaller events with fewer people. Aspects that will need to be considered and adjusted to respect social distancing regulations include catering, registration, seating plans and, of course, sanitising. Until a vaccine is found, much of our focus will still fall on hybrid and virtual networking events. In the meantime, we need to send virtual hugs to our friends and colleagues, and remember to check in with colleagues virtually or in person while social distancing, as everyone is feeling similar levels of anxiety and stress during this time. Stay positive and know that you are not alone.




It is not only about you 2

020 was a wake-up call of note. Up until the beginning of the year, we had been going about our day-to-day lives with no real consideration towards the effects of standing within proximity of each other and breathing in the same air. Some might say we were lucky that a pandemic on the scale of Covid-19 hadn’t happened sooner, and I have to agree. Scientists and epidemiologists have been pre-empting an airborne pandemic for years – both former US president Barrack Obama as well as Bill Gates have been widely quoted for their predictions five years ago detailing the impact of a possible outbreak. Even then, the possibility of an imminent and almost invisible threat seemed somewhat abstract – but with more than a million coronavirus deaths, the reality is that this threat now exists and is very serious.

SILVER LININGS The novel coronavirus has underscored the importance of not just hygiene, cleanliness and physical distancing but also how hypervigilant we need to be in order to avoid getting sick. Anti-maskers and ‘plandemic’ conspiracy theorists aside, we have scientific evidence of just some of the preventative measures we can take to ensure that we are protected against the virus.



We now know enough to understand how long the virus stays active on various surfaces and screening protocols have been rolled out almost everywhere to ensure that early symptoms are caught timeously enough to curb the spread of the virus. I don’t expect these protocols to go away anytime soon and, to be quite honest, I hope they don’t – within MICE, the more people there are behind these measures, the sooner we can get the industry back up and running. Another positive spin-off is how the number of cases of flu has dropped significantly this year as a result of the measures that are being taken to combat Covid-19 – by as much as 90% in some countries such as China. This just goes to show that despite how some of the processes we have to follow are tedious, they are beneficial in so many ways. For

Barmotion Fancourt

me, it also indicates that how we were living previously took for granted basic everyday activities such as going to work or the shops, never mind travelling or visiting friends or family. As lockdown regulations ease and we are able to slowly start enjoying aspects of our old lives again, it is more important than ever that we exercise caution throughout our day so that at each possible point of exposure, there is a measure in place to prevent possible crossinfection. With Covid-19 symptoms being so varied, it is impossible to tell from the outset how each person will respond to the disease but, as the age-old adage goes, prevention is

certainly better than cure.


Garona Communications and Projects


SA Events Council

Tau Game Lodge WTM Africa






Produced in partnership with the venue and the organiser, the risk assessment will be a key document to determine the measures that will need to be put in place for an event. The organiser must appoint a COVID-19 compliance officer to oversee the implementation and adherence to the health and safety measures established by event’s COVID-19 plans.


SOCIAL DISTANCING Ensure that relevant markers and one-way systems are installed in public areas, including networking spaces outside conference rooms, toilets, lifts, and cloakrooms, to help everyone keep a safe distance.

Screening delegates, visitors, and exhibitor stand crew before entering is very important. COVID-19 related questions need to be added to the pre-registration process and must be completed before entering the venue. This will also aid in minimising queuing and contact during registration. Face coverings are a condition of entry – guests will not be allowed to enter the venue unless they are wearing a face covering.




Ensure that your venue, can manage arrivals safely and securely, in line with the latest government guidelines.

Ensure that your venue’s facilities are in line with the latest government guidelines.

Ensure that anyone working on any phases of an event have pre-registered before arriving onsite. They should also declare whether they are fit and healthy to work. They must come with the required PPE (Personal Protective Equipment).



Ensure that the venue’s cleaning team has been trained to deliver new cleaning procedures. This includes ensuring all touch points are regularly wiped with chlorine-based cleaning fluid, as well as the seating in conference and meeting areas.

Ensure that all hospitality, stand catering and retail services provided are in line with the latest government guidelines.



Ensure that the venue’s employees have participated in a COVID-19 training programme. As part of your pre-event communication, let attendees know about pre-registration and early arrival. As part of your post-event communication, let attendees know that there is a possibility that the attendee database maybe shared in case of positive COVID-19 case.

Ensure that hand sanitisers will be provided at the main entrances and across public areas of the venue.


SOCIAL DISTANCE MANAGEMENT: Social distancing must be managed, considering the latest government advice. Relevant markers must be installed in public areas to help everyone keep a safe distance.





Every event is different. Working in partnership with your venue, assess what the safety practices to meet the needs of your event will be.

Ensure the venue has adapted to the guidelines provided by government, so that events can run safely including a new cleaning regime, improved air circulation, hand sanitiser stations and one-way systems.

With the the venue, aim to minimise the impact on the guest experience, ensuring that expectations are set with everyone delivering the event. This would include arrival and registration, food and beverage as well cleaning standards.

Ensure that your staff, as well as staff at the venue, are trained to deliver events that are in line with latest government guidelines, and to the highest possible standards.


YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES: Make sure that your team and venue understand their role in keeping themselves and everyone else safe.