Meetings September October 2021

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AFRICA IS REAWAKENING A new dawn for the continent’s tourism sector


Why event tech companies are being snapped up

YEAR-END EVENTS Why they matter now more than ever


A report for the industry, by the industry

R55.00 (incl. VAT)

ISSN 1684-9264


CONTENTS The Planner


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04 COVER STORY: SOUTH AFRICAN TOURISM Meetings was at Africa’s Travel and Tourism Summit 2021 to find out what is being done to move the sector forward during this time.

08 TEAMS: YEAR-ENDS Meetings understands why establishing an inclusive sector should be at the forefront of the MICE industry’s efforts.


10 INSPIRATION ANEW Hotels & Resorts







17 LAUNCH Thabo Mbeki Presidential Library

22 VENUE SHOWCASE The Palace of the Lost City



02 Ed’s Comment 03 Tidbits 18 Personality Snapshot 30 Miss Meet TALKING POINTS





ED’S COMMENT Managing Editor Shanna Jacobsen ( Chief Sub-Editor Tristan Snijders Head of Design Beren Bauermeister Contributors Sven Bossu, Glenton de Kock,

Arthur Goldstuck, Adele Hartdegen, Patrick Hoffnung, Kevan Jones, Scott Langley, Lynn McLeod, Glenn van Eck 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 2021 © Copyright All rights reserved 2021 SUBSCRIPTION R330.00 per annum (incl. VAT) | ISSN 1684-9264 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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At long last, we are beginning to see more activity as our industry and economy open up again.


he past 18 months in lockdown have been a rollercoaster ride of note for the industry! Initially, we all believed that the lockdown would be over in a matter of weeks but, when three weeks became six weeks, it became clear that the Covid-19 pandemic might be with us for quite some time. At this point, we still didn’t realise what all this meant but, after significant losses, all signs are pointing to our recovery. The latest stats at the time of the publication going live were that over 15% of South Africans had been vaccinated. Initiatives such as #jab4tourism and #jab4events are encouraging vaccines within these specific industries, and with the latest, eased risk-adjusted lockdown restrictions announced on 30 September 2021, the nation can hopefully start operating at levels seen at the beginning of 2020.

UNITED WE STAND The spirit of collaboration and coopetition during this difficult time is what has encouraged me the most. We have come together as an industry to ensure that as many of us as possible can survive – the 2021 Women in MICE Awards recognise the importance of working together, with the new Industry Collaborator of the Year forming one of the categories. We are exceptionally proud of this year’s winners, which you can read more about on page 12. During this time, industry associations such as SAACI have worked tirelessly, holding sessions on the weekend to help their members with their UIF TERS claims and appeals. Together with SACIA

and TPSA, they have been pivotal in lobbying the South African government to distinguish events from gatherings. In addition, we are seeing several funding programmes being launched to support events – read about the Cape Town & Western Cape Convention Bureau’s support programme on page 3. For many of us within the industry, virtual events have been the only means for us to sustain ourselves. Over the past year and a half, we have seen massive growth within this particular segment of our market and it is interesting to see just how big players within this space are growing. Read more about this on page 20. One of my favourite success stories this issue is the disruptor Priority Escapes. During a time when South Africa had a number of travel bans and advisories in place, they found a way to provide exciting travel options and destinations. Don’t miss their feature on page 24 of the mag. My message to our readers this time is to keep on keeping on while taking all necessary health and safety precautions. We have made it this far and we are seeing how our hard work is paying off – we can and we will get through this, emerging stronger than we were before the pandemic! Take care of yourselves, and all those around you. Until we meet again!



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Meetings’ must-know minutiae

Events industry sees light at the end of the tunnel Good news for South Africa’s local events industry as the latest communication from SACIA indicates that the implementation of a phased reopening of events with spectators may be imminent. The association’s proposal to reopen events under the Spectator Guidelines is attracting high-level attention; and following a review by the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure, this will be put forward for consideration by the National Coronavirus Command Council. Separately to this, AAXO and EXSA have tabled an urgent proposal for the phased reopening of the exhibitions industry that is said to be on POWERED BY SACIA Cabinet’s agenda. RE-OPENING GUIDELINES FOR SPECTATORS AT SPORTING EVENTS


Wesgro rolls out bidding support programme

In September, the Cape Town & Western Cape Convention Bureau, the strategic business unit of Wesgro, announced that it had launched a bidding support programme. This will avail funds to eligible business event organisers, which can be used to assist them in hosting small and medium-sized events in the Western Cape region. “The value of the business events sector to the provincial economy cannot be underestimated, with the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape having hosted the most international association conferences in Africa over the last 10 years. And so, we hope that this initiative will go a long way in supporting the sector, which has been hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic,” noted David Maynier, Western Cape Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities.


Hotels see growth in Africa Africa is seeing a number of international hotel groups expanding their footprint on the continent. Radisson Hotel Group announced its 16th hotel in South Africa in mid-August with the signing of Radisson Hotel Middelburg. This is in addition to the opening of the Radisson RED Johannesburg Rosebank just one week earlier. Meanwhile, the Hyatt House Johannesburg Sandton will join the Hyatt’s two existing African properties, while the Hilton has debuted its LXR Hotels & Resorts brand in the Seychelles, with the opening of its Mango House property.

Zanzibar attracts several investment and development deals A number of exciting developments have been announced for Zanzibar, including the construction of what will be Africa’s second tallest skyscraper. The Zanzibar Domino Commercial Tower project will be built at a cost of US$1.3 billion (R19.7 billion) on an artificial island and include 560 residential apartments, as well as two luxury hotels. In addition, the Zanzibar Investment Promotion Authority recently closed expressions of interest for investment opportunities on the archipelago’s smaller islands.

Boeing signs MoU with Ethiopian Airlines for largest aviation hub in Africa Ethiopian Airlines and Boeing have signed a memorandum of understanding to develop what they say will be the largest aviation hub in Africa. On the back of its successful relationship spanning more than 70 years, the East Africa-headquartered airline and Boeing have agreed to partner in four areas that will include industrial development, advanced aviation training, educational partnerships, and leadership development. Teams have already been put in place to implement the strategic partnership that will also result in the establishment of the Ethiopian Aviation Academy to act as a global standard for aviation training.





GOING TO TAKE? Meetings was at Africa’s Travel and Tourism Summit to find out what is being done to move the sector forward during this time.


ith the global roll-out of vaccines, industries such as tourism and MICE, which have felt the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, are beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel that could pave the way forward for their recovery. While vaccines feature as a solution for opening up certain industries of our economy, for tourism, it goes beyond this and discussions are being centred around how to make the sector truly sustainable. In September, South African Tourism and the National Department of Tourism hosted Africa’s Travel and Tourism Summit (ATTS) 2021. The three-day event was hosted as a hybrid experience, with in-person attendance in Durban and Sandton in South Africa, and in Lagos, Nigeria.


TOURISM’S RECOVERY WILL COME FROM THE INSIDE OUT There was a significant emphasis on domestic and regional travel as a key driver of the recovery of the tourism industry. This was summarised by Professor Patrick Loch Otieno Lumumba, a renowned professor of law and an anti-corruption pan-Africanist, who highlighted how travel within Africa by Africans ensures that money does not leave the continent The opposite is true for travellers from regions such as Europe or America, with the majority of their spend generated wherever they are based. “Domestic tourism has to be the anchor of the tourism industry,” noted Sthembiso Dlamini, acting CEO of South African Tourism, in her

address during the opening plenary session of ATTS 2021. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, in 2019 in South Africa, as an example, 70% of the country’s international arrivals were from the rest of Africa. This highlights how valuable our regional market is but more needs to be done to ensure we cater for travel experiences for our African counterparts. Echoing this sentiment was Netumbo Nashandi, chairperson of the Federation of Namibian Tourism Associations: “We have to place a special, intentional emphasis on domestic travel,” she stressed. This means that there is an opportunity for hospitality providers and tour operators to design products with new pricing models that are attractive to this particular market segment.


SUSTAINABILITY VILLAGE A HIGHLIGHT DURING AFRICA’S TRAVEL AND TOURISM SUMMIT A highlight during Africa’s Travel and Tourism Summit was the Sustainability Village – a dynamic corporate gifting concept that has grown in popularity. In its bid towards inclusivity, South African Tourism is committed to creating market access for SMMEs. To this end, the Sustainability Village allowed delegates to purchase their own gifts using vouchers given to them by South African Tourism, thus generating business for the local artisans and crafters who were part of the experience. The items sold at the Sustainability Village are inspired by local culture and traditions and are produced in South Africa. In line with the hybrid format of the event, both in-person as well as online attendees were able to access the Sustainability Village. POLICY STANDARDISATION A CHALLENGE A common theme coming out of many of the sessions during ATTS 2021 is that tourism requires the global standardisation of policies and practices to fully open and operate at the levels it once did. This includes vaccine passports and uniform travel requirements, as well as one set of guidelines that the entire industry can follow and implement accordingly.

TOURISM: THEN AND NOW According to quoted World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) statistics, pre-Covid-19: • Africa’s tourism industry reported that tourism generates US$200 billion (approximately R3 trillion) • Tourism accounted for 6.9% of Africa’s GDP • The sector supported as many as 24.7 million jobs. Following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic: • Tourism has dipped to $83 billion (or R1.2 trillion) • 7.2 million jobs were lost • This downturn was experienced by tourism across the globe.

Linda Balme, senior commercial manager for Travelstart, notes how the agency has had to be on the ball when it comes to rolling out its next campaign. “Dream big but have conversations now that will mean – that if something happens tomorrow – you are ready,” she says, adding that time is of the essence. “You have to be so agile… Be informative, be effective and communicate rapidly.”

SUSTAINABILITY AN INDUSTRY IMPERATIVE Growing an impactful travel and tourism sector will be impossible if the industry is not inclusive and encompassing. This is why a day dedicated to SMMEs was held in the lead-up to the main proceedings of the Summit. “The Summit is what the African travel trade needs right now and SMME Day is a perfect way to reboot the tourism economy – as small and medium-sized businesses are the backbone of tourism. Many of the business people at SMME Day will be seasoned entrepreneurs. They do not want to know how they should run their business. Instead, they are here to find ways of adapting their businesses to a new kind of tourism market,” said South African Tourism’s Sthembiso Dlamini ahead of the Summit’s SMME Day. There were also a number of discussions centred around the youth being key in growing the tourism sector, as they are both the future marketers and decision-makers of the industry.

This summit enjoys the participation of the African community delegates who aim to understand how tourism has shifted in the African continent and identifying new opportunities. It is, therefore, a catalyst for engagement on the current state of tourism on the African continent, the sharing of ideas on collective recovery initiatives and solutions, and exploring global tourism survival trends and challenges facing the global tourism industry.” Lindiwe Sisulu, Minister of Tourism




Meetings unpacks why yearend functions are more relevant now than ever.


Year ends matter

osting year-end staff and client parties may not be at the top of everybody’s list of priorities but following what will be almost two years in lockdown, we at Meetings magazine believe these types of events should feature more strongly than they did in previous years. Let’s face the facts – over the past 18 months, the world has changed; events will not be the same as they were prior to the pandemic and likely won’t be for at least two to three years. While budgets this year may be too tight to consider a year-end function with all the bells and whistles, we should not forego celebrating our company and employees’ achievements and milestones, as well as recognising the individuals who have excelled in their respective roles.

YEAR-END RECOGNITION So, why is it so important for businesses to recognise their staff?

“You’ll find spending just a little bit more time recognising employees that the overall feeling of the workplace will be relaxed and there’ll be a sense of calm in the air... Employees feel wanted, they’ll laugh, be productive, and there’ll be comradeship in the workplace. Doing so will result in all the tension in the workplace vanishing!” says Power2Motivate in its article on why recognising employees matters. This recognition can encompass a number of areas, including: • significant milestones • showcasing positive attributes and behaviours • exceeding targets and expectations. Great Place To Work received 1.7 million survey responses between 2018 and 2020 from employees in small, mid-sized and large companies. They found that employees who received recognition were able to identify more positive aspects of their employers compared to those employees where this recognition was not part of a company’s culture.

CREATE SHARED OBJECTIVES Decision-makers should give thorough consideration as to how they communicate their goals for the year ahead with their staff, the strategies that will be used to achieve these objectives, and how to get the buy-in of their employees. The challenges of longerterm planning have been compounded by tough economic circumstances, which can and should be openly discussed. It is important that employees have a realistic understanding of the expectations their employers have of them over the next year and the role they can play in realising the company’s goals. “Everyone should be working to achieve the organisation’s overall strategy, and aligning goals gets everyone on the same page and moving in the same direction. Aligned goals create a familial atmosphere where everyone works together and understands their role. Simply put, if your organisation isn’t aligning goals, you’re at a disadvantage,” notes Quantum Workplace – a software company focused on delivering solutions to identify business challenges and improve performance.

Source: OC Tanner



Team members who feel as if they play an important part in growing their company and that they are recognised accordingly for their contribution in their role will be both more cohesive as a team and loyal. This is how employers can get the best out of their employees. “Creating loyal employees is not as difficult as it might seem, but it will require time and effort. If employees don’t feel respected or valued in the modern-day workplace, many of them won’t hesitate to walk away… Even when you follow the proper steps, you might need to step back and try different approaches until you find one that works well for you. But once you discover the winning combination, you can build a team of loyal employees who want to grow with your business, which creates a win-win situation for everyone involved,” highlights StaffScapes in its blog on how to build loyal teams.


HOW TO… HAVE THE MOST MEANINGFUL YEAR-END EXPERIENCES IN LOCKDOWN The Covid-19 pandemic has put a dampener on large in-person events, so Meetings has some ideas that you can implement in recognition of your staff ahead of the end of the year.



Identify qualities within the company and each employee that you feel should be recognised and upheld. Be clear about why you are recognising these attributes and how these align to the business’s values and its future objectives.



Communities in lower-income areas have been extremely hard hit by the pandemic. There are many initiatives that companies and their employees can get behind and support, which is a great way to build and strengthen teams.



Find a moment to share in some lightheartedness and inspiration by asking employees to talk about their funniest moments in lockdown or ask them to share one of the most important lessons they have learnt during this time.



Potjie cook-offs are a much cheaper alternative to hiring expensive caterers or paying for seated dining at a hotel or restaurant. Alternatively, allocate a portion of this budget to each employee for a potluck and ask them to bring or prepare their favourite meals for everyone to enjoy.



Gifts such as succulents and seed packs are inexpensive and can be given to staff with a small note of appreciation. If it is in the budget or you are able to receive sponsorship, consider gifting a small amount of money to each employee for them to donate to a worthy cause.



Eliminate pecking orders and ensure that everybody participates on a peer level – from the cleaners to the CEO. This is an opportunity to show each employee their value and that they play an important role within the company.






Kevin Burley, operations director for ANEW Hotels & Resorts, discusses the resilience and unity of South Africans during some of our most challenging times.


eptember marks Heritage Month – a month set aside to celebrate our nation’s diverse culture and heritage. It is a time when government calls on all South Africans to foster social cohesion, nation-building, and a shared national identity. ANEW Hotels & Resorts, launched from a family business originating in 1952, is a brand known for having a culture driven around its solid values and a heritage deeply rooted in South Africa. According to operations director Kevin Burley, ANEW developed because of the people in the business, with courage, passion and a true calling to something more. “We started as a family business, and I think it’s a privilege for us all to work in an organisation that values its people. Despite being a growing business, the one thing that I’m really proud of is the culture of togetherness and respect we have created.”

UNITY DURING TRYING TIMES Kevin reveals the company decided to have only a handful of staff members at each of its KwaZuluNatal properties to keep it going during

the height of the pandemic, including a general manager, a chef and a maintenance worker. “We did get some essential service business and a few rooms for people needing to isolate. We wanted to be ready for any doctors or essential workers who needed accommodation,” he says. Kevin was most impressed by the ‘roll-up your sleeves and get the job done’ attitude of all staff members. “My team showed great character during our most difficult times. Our HR manager and I were handing out food parcels. Many staff members were cutting lawns, cleaning pools, raking leaves, and cleaning windows to ensure that we maintained our hotel standards even during the lockdown. “We had accountants cleaning hotel rooms, waiters making beds, and receptionists helping with room service. With a smaller staff complement, everybody banded together to get things done. There was a real spirit of working together. We really are one big family, and I think that’s been our success. “Just like the rest of South Africa and the world, our business has experienced loss, and our people are hurting. But our aim is to help them get better. It comes back to my permanent message that we are a family, and those values drive our culture. As long as you respect those values, you’re welcome to be part of the family.”

have been tough times for everybody, and I think the great thing about this country is we come together, and we fix problems.” He also mentions how the recent looting in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng brought communities together. “It was positive to see security guards, residents and taxi drivers coming together to look after the community. It was a time when our rainbow nation was all out on the streets, cleaning up and helping each other move forward. That’s what the spirit of this country is all about.” Kevin has run the Comrades Marathon a few times and often compares the race to Heritage Day. “You’re at the starting line with 20 000 people from all walks of life. No one cares about the type of job you have. No one asks about your religion. No one looks at the colour of your skin. If somebody falls, we help them up. If somebody needs a drink, we give them water. Much like Heritage Day, it is truly a time when South Africans come together as one.” He also recalls some of the most inspiring moments in our recent history – the FIFA World Cup and winning the Rugby World Cup – where people of all ages, races and cultures joined together to celebrate our success. “There’s so much beauty in people just celebrating together. “With every country, there are good and bad elements. In South Africa, our good element is that when we shine, it is just so beautiful,” he concludes.

A CULTURE OF RESILIENCE London-born Kevin, who has been living in South Africa since 2004, makes sure to acknowledge the history of the country and just how far we have come. “One thing that never ceases to amaze me is just how resilient South Africans are. There



AN INDUSTRY IMPERATIVE Glenn van Eck spotlights the crucial role sustainability plays in how the events industry operates.


ome senior event organisers have bemoaned the fact that they are bored with the whole ‘green agenda’ that keeps coming up. Take a moment to think about your perceptions of event sustainability and how big a role it currently plays in your customer pitches and planning. There was an early adopter organiser that put together a conference about a decade ago in the least likely of places. Karatara is a small woodcutters’ village, inland from Knysna, Western Cape. The downscaling of the wood industry has led to severe unemployment and it is a pretty bleak destination, or at least certainly not one that would come to mind as a conference venue for delegates that were largely from large hotel chains and similar products. There were no conference venues in the village and the school hall had no air conditioning. Also absent were any large catering kitchens or a secondary indoor venue for meals. The local community catered and served the meals under a basic tent. They also produced authentic gifts, conference bags and were genuinely engaging in their unique village style. Knysna hosted a few excursions but the village dominated the conference proceedings and hospitality.

The senior delegate from the City Lodge Group said it was the best conference she had ever attended and left knowing that her life had been touched by the experience. Steve Carver and his team ensured the waste was recycled and removed, and the only impact on the ‘environment’ was on the locals who were left with a wonderful sense of pride and could now afford more basics for their families.

KEY JUNCTURE Sustainability in events is the wonderful point where pursuing world-first ideas and completing accredited training come together. We believe that the accreditations offered by the Council for Events Professionals Africa (CEPA), through the South African Communications Industries Association (SACIA), will set up an event organiser or PCO with staff who have the confidence and knowledge to see new possibilities in events. They are more likely to reach for the environmental, economic, social and cultural aspects that drive sustainability. It is a trend that is coming down the line as our post-millennials become the leaders who drive event decisions. They see this aspect as more of a necessity than

a choice. It is not a nice-to-have for them but something they care about and feel that they need to take action on. The event business is one of the largest economic sectors in the world. Can you imagine what a difference we can make with that purchasing power? Give customers the opportunity to choose you because of your sustainability profile. Build in the pitch aspect of how attendees will have an enhanced experience and become your promoters. A good first step could be to aim higher. Even a small impact makes a difference. Consider applying for the Certified Event Associate, Certified Event Practitioner or Certified Event Professional designations via SACIA, and hiring a young prospect who is an ‘ideas’ person. Have them certified as an Event Associate, then free them up to look at each brief from a sustainability point of view. In no time, ‘boring’ will turn to pride, a new lease of energy and a more profitable business future.

Glenn van Eck is the chairman of the Council of Events Professionals Africa and a member of the SA Events Council.




RECOGNITION OF EXCELLENCE Meetings highlights why the winners of this year’s Women in MICE Awards are defining the future of the the MICE industry.


owards the end of August, 3S Media, a specialist B2B media house, announced the winners of its Women in MICE Awards 2021. The announcement wrapped up what is recognised as Women’s Month in South Africa, with the Awards being a showcase of the remarkable achievements made by some of the MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) industry’s top players. Commenting on the announcement, Shanna Jacobsen – managing editor of Meetings magazine and The Planner Guru, part of the 3S Media group and the producers of the Women in MICE Awards – states: “We have all come through an incredibly difficult period that has resulted in major losses, which has taken a serious toll on the industry as a whole. It is for this reason that we feel it is more important than ever to recognise the women who have

been a beacon of hope for so many, and who have led their teams demonstrating courage, compassion, innovation and resilience during this time.” Just before the Covid-19 pandemic hit South Africa, the Women in MICE Awards were relaunched as a categorised event. Following the postponement of the Awards last year, the 2021 event will be the seventh annual Women in MICE Awards. “It is clear from the more than 50 entries we received across the 10 categories that there are distinct pockets of excellence. We have also seen participation from outside of South Africa’s borders, showing that the Women in MICE Awards are growing in interest and reach,” highlights Shanna. Lastly, to ensure transparency of the judging of the Women in MICE


Awards entries, 3S Media enlisted the assistance of five of the industry’s top role players, including: •C orné Koch, head, Cape Town & Western Cape Convention Bureau •N omasonto Ndlovu, head: Tourism, Heritage and Hospitality, Transnet SOC •N onnie Kubeka, head, Gauteng Convention & Events Bureau • S onto Mayise, acting general manager, KZN Durban Convention Bureau •V anessa Perumal, managing director, JT Communication Solutions. “On behalf of 3S Media, I would like to take this opportunity to personally and publicly thank each of the judges for their valuable contribution throughout this process, as their involvement brings credibility to the Women in MICE Awards,” says Shanna.

WOMEN IN MICE MENTORSHIP AND DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME 3S Media, in partnership with Tsheto Leadership and Coaching Academy, has concluded its Women in MICE Mentorship and Development Programme for the 2020-21 period. The following women completed the programme: 1. Angeline van den Broecke, director, Altis Business Solutions 2. Angelique Smith, co-owner, Event Synthesis 3. Cinderella ‘Cindy’ Buser, managing director, Mirchee 4. Lisa Jade Hutchings, head ginger, GingerBiscuit 5. Lindsey Verfaillie, senior sales coordinator, Durban ICC 6. Nthabiseng Mathole, head biscuit, GingerBiscuit. “You have all been instrumental in this journey, inspiring


me to take a leap of faith. I am so very grateful I have had your support during this transition; I truly feel very blessed having you all by my side. Our sessions have been the most joyous and inspiring journey, and I want to thank each of you and express my immense gratitude for the support and, most importantly, your wonderful friendship, which I truly hope will endure,” enthused Angeline upon the conclusion of the programme. After a successful pilot that saw participation by six women in MICE, the organisers and facilitators of the programme would like to invite interested candidates from the MICE industry to apply to be part of the 2021-22 intake. For more information, contact or call +27 (0)11 233 2600.


Service Provider of the Year Trudi Freed, director, HiSide Events

Collaborator of the Year Kezy Mukiri, CEO, Zuri Events

Tes Proos, president, SITE Africa

Venue Representative of the Year Lindiwe Rakharebe, CEO, Durban ICC

Industry Contribution of the Year (shared)

Megan Oberholzer, portfolio director: Travel, Tourism, and Creative Industries, RX Africa

Innovator of the Year Carol Weaving, managing director, RX Africa

Certification & Qualification of the Year Angelique Smith, co-owner, Event Synthesis

Mentor of the Year Cheryl Norwood-Young, managing director, Where Next Event Management

Health & Safety Standards Representative of the Year Carmen Wagener, portfolio director: Operations, RX Africa

Enterprise Team of the Year RX Africa

Lifetime Achievement Award Linda Pereira, executive director, CPL Meetings & Events

ABOUT THE WOMEN IN MICE AWARDS The Women in MICE Awards launched in 2014 and are in place to celebrate female excellence across the MICE industry. The Women in MICE Awards recognise the important role women play in the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions industry. Conceived by 3S Media, and its MICE industry brands – Meetings magazine and The Planner Guru – this initiative plays a vital role in providing a platform that motivates, inspires and supports women in the industry to achieve their personal and professional goals. It also connects women in

the industry to leverage their reach and resources, creating a community of economically empowered women. During the sixth annual Women in MICE celebration in 2019, the Women in MICE Mentorship and Development Programme was launched to promote giving back to the industry. This will facilitate knowledge and skill sharing, to further advance the professional development of women in this industry. For more information, visit




TURNING PURPOSE INTO PROFIT Scott Langley shares how the Japanese concept of ikigai can and should be applied to our approach to business.


e have been lied to. Perhaps you were lied to with the best of intentions. Maybe you were lied to by people who loved you deeply. Chances are, they were trying to keep you safe and protect you from a life of scarcity or even poverty. But it was still a lie, nonetheless. In essence, we are sold the lie growing up, in one form or another, that we need to find some way of making money and that this is the most important thing. Find a job that pays the bills. The end. I believed this lie for many years. And as an idea, it certainly has a lot of merits, especially in times like this. Nobody would look down on someone who takes a job to provide for their family. But apart from the financial compensation, I wonder what effect that this ‘job that pays the bills’ will have on the person’s overall state of being after two or three decades when it is not aligned with who they are. What does a job like that do to a person’s mental health when it is not aligned to their values and solving problems they see in the world? Or worse, when that job plays a role in causing some of the world’s most significant issues? What does it do to their motivation, attitude and team spirit when it’s not in sync with their passions, gifts and talents?

PUTTING NUMBERS TO IT A study of 50 years of Gallup Poll data on the topic of leadership, which included more than 20 000 in-depth interviews with senior leaders, 10 000 employees and more than one million work teams, showed some disturbing data. “In the workplace, when an organisation’s leadership fails to focus on individuals’ strengths, the odds of an employee being


#IKIGAI engaged are a dismal 1 in 11 (9%). But when an organisation’s leadership focuses on the strengths of its employees, the odds soar to almost 3 in 4 (73%).” What does this mean for a company whose employees are not engaged competing against one with an engaged workforce? Gallup's 2020 employee engagement meta-analysis report noted that the relationship between employee engagement and performance is substantial across 11 key business outcomes. The report showed companies with engaged employees enjoyed: • 23% higher profitability • 40-43% higher turnover • 18% higher productivity (sales) • 14% higher productivity (production records and evaluations) • 81% less absenteeism • 28% less shrinkage (theft) • 41% higher performance in quality • 66% higher staff well-being (net thriving employees). I would agree that making money is essential. But I would argue that it is not the most important thing. I would have you consider that there is a better way.

A DIFFERENT APPROACH This year I discovered an approach that has changed my life forever. The idea is a Japanese concept called ikigai, which roughly translates to ‘reason for being’. Perhaps what Westerners would call ‘purpose’, or meaning in life. Some people feel a deep frustration, rooted in the conflict of their passions, with what consumes most of their waking hours. Others are plagued by their awareness of need in the world and their ability to meet it somehow but cannot find a way to fund this enterprise. People like me live the majority of their lives without clarity or certainty about their passions, and need a guided experience to help discover and confirm these for themselves.

These frustrations generally stem from unawareness or misunderstanding of this concept of ikigai, which is best understood through its framework. First, consider these aspects of who you are as four overlapping circles on a Venn diagram: 1. Your delight – what you love 2. Your talents – what you’re good at 3. Your skills – what you can be paid for 4. Your cause – what the world needs. Second, understand that where these circles start to overlap, they reveal more about who we are. Where what you love (your delight) and what you’re good at (your talents) meet is your passion. In areas where your talents overlap with your skills, show areas where professions are possibly available to you; and how you can address a need in the world with your skill set reveals your vocation. The overlapping area between your cause and your delight reveals a mission you could readily take on. Third, consider the areas where three of your circles intersect. These areas will offer greater meaning in your life but ultimately will not lead to fulfilment or ‘reason for being’, as it still lacks balance in the interconnectedness of our four domains. Where your passion meets your mission, you will find pleasure and fullness but no financial compensation. Where your passion and profession meet, you will find initial satisfaction, which ultimately gives way to a feeling of uselessness as your cause goes unaddressed. Where your vocation meets your mission, there is a sense of duty mixed with uncertainty, knowing that your true talent or gift is not engaged in this endeavour.

When you have discovered your ikigai, you will also be able to turn your purpose into profit and find real meaning in your life.” Most in the West opt for the overlap of our profession and our vocation, leading us to be comfortable but eventually leaving us empty and devoid of meaning in life. Your ikigai is found in the balance of all four of these domains.

Your ikigai is your superpower; it is your X-factor. When you use it in a way that solves problems for the people you love serving, your life will never be the same. ” LIFE-CHANGING THINKING When I understood this concept, everything changed. I realised that my ikigai was the key to my purpose, mission in the world, happiness and profit. I realise that I am privileged to run my own business, and I can steer it in the direction I choose and when you have discovered your ikigai, you will also be able to turn your purpose into profit and find real meaning in your life. I saw that my business, Kaizen Alpha Marketing, is the expression of my ikigai and is being used to meet a need in the world. Not only that, but I am filling this need by doing what I love, using my unique gifts, talents and abilities – and all the while getting paid to do it! Your ikigai is your superpower; it is your X-factor. When you use it in a way that solves problems for the people you love serving, your life will never be the same. And you will never again believe the lie that jobs are only for paying the bills.

Scott Langley is the managing director of Kaizen Alpha and a regular contributor to Meetings magazine. You can read more about him here.




A VAST OPPORTUNITY Following its official launch in June this year, the African Perspectives on the MICE Industry Report 2021 aims to provide insights that enable the entirety of the business events value chain to inform their strategic decision-making. Meetings learns more about how the industry can participate.


ne of the key outtakes from the African Perspectives on the MICE Industry Report 2021 is that there is a clear opportunity for the continent to grow the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions industry value chain. Nowhere is this more evident than in the maturity indicators of the 16 African countries that were analysed, with more than two-thirds being in a nascent stage of development. This means the countries that fall in this category do not have a formalised industry, there is scattered MICE activity and while there is a government priority on tourism and the MICE industry, this may be lacking in clear structures. A small portion of the countries in the defined category have a formalised industry with clear suppliers and client activity, as well as a government priority on the MICE sector and a communicated MICE strategy. Only two countries attained the status of having managed MICE industries, which are formalised, prioritised by government and have had an active convention bureau for more than five years – in addition to an existing African strategy. No countries fall in the category of ‘optimising’, which – together with having a formalised, government-prioritised MICE industry and an active convention bureau and African strategy – also hosts regularly rotated African conferences. This highlights the pressing need for Africa to consider the impact that having a formalised MICE industry can have on their economies, while bolstering bilateral ties with other African countries.


SPECIAL OFFER The African Perspectives on the MICE Industry Report was created to assist companies within the MICE industry to increase revenue by informing their decision-making. It provides insights into the readiness of each country to host local and international business events in addition to the potential opportunities for collaboration. Meetings magazine is offering its readers a 10% discount on the report if they use the code MTNGS when purchasing this. Orders can be placed here. For more information on this, contact Leana Robson, business development consultant at Niche Partners, on +27 (0)72 350 2850 or at


In order for Africa to realise the opportunity at hand, the continent needs to develop the means to be able to collect and collate its data in such a way that it can provide valuable insights to the industry and decisionmakers. One of the challenges of this, however, is ensuring that there is a universal data standard for bringing this information together. “As the business events industry in Africa is largely in nascent stages, the study will be conducted annually to improve in data collection as research grows. As with most studies, the design of the current study is subject to limitations. These include a lack of previous studies conducted in the MICE industry in Africa, in-country data collection, access and comparative tools. The study results must therefore be accompanied with additional in-country data and not be generalised,” notes Niche Partners, the research house responsible for producing the report. In the lead-up to the launch of the client and supplier surveys for its 2022 report, Niche Partners would like to encourage role players within the African MICE industry to participate in the upcoming survey and to share this with their industry colleagues and affiliates to ensure there is a broad enough scope for the team to derive holistic insights.

Only 5 of the 16 countries researched had any MICE industry strategy

Africa’s top strategic economic sector also presents the greatest opportunities for MICE

The source market investment basket is not diversified and leaves many countries susceptible to international trade challenges, with or without Covid-19



Meetings was present for the signing of an MoU between the City of Johannesburg and the Thabo Mbeki Foundation, which will form the basis of what will be one of Africa’s most important cultural sites for years to come.


n 28 September 2021, Meetings magazine was invited to the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the City of Johannesburg and the Thabo Mbeki Foundation. The MoU supports the development of the Thabo Mbeki Presidential Centre (TMPC), which will be based in Riviera, Johannesburg. It will house the Thabo Mbeki Presidential Library, with a hotel and a commercial development planned for the next phases of the project. A museum with special collections and artefacts will form part of the library. The rest of the TMPC will be comprised of a temporary exhibition space, research centre, auditorium, women’s empowerment centre, reading room, shop, cafeteria, digital experience space, seminar rooms, office space and an archive centre. “This is an important milestone to not only invest in and celebrate our heritage,

but presents a golden opportunity in our ongoing efforts to continuously promote Johannesburg as a key destination to both locals and visitors. As a strategic tourism and heritage intervention, the collaboration entered into today will be integral to key mechanisms and interventions around job creation, SMME opportunities, knowledge advancement, heritage preservation and experience as well as the betterment of livelihoods,” commented Nonceba Molwele, official council speaker for the City of Johannesburg.


According to its vision, “The TMPC is intended to be a living library and museum, which will narrate the story of Africa through and beyond former President Thabo Mbeki and other African leaders’ work and impact within the larger context of African liberation and

development. Its aim is to educate, inculcate, inspire and activate citizens from all walks of African life to be dynamic agents of its Renaissance.” An important aspect of the TMPC is retaining its African roots. Architect David Adjaye, who has been tasked with designing the Thabo Mbeki Presidential Library, believes that the design of the red dome structures, inspired by traditional African granary stores, captures this. “The eight cylindrical granary-styled forms are made contemporary through the topping of domes with apertures that take into consideration the solar orientation of light within the site to create a distinct atmosphere for each of the programmes within. The internal infrastructure of these chambers see to it that the building accommodates a multiplicity of programmatic functions. They are connected through an ‘indoor den’ — a horizontal interstitial space that extends the length of the entire building to provide a new public space in service to the community,” notes the architect on his website. Thus far, the TMPC project is expected to be completed by September 2024.

The architecture of the library taps into the collective memory of the continent through the establishment of a new historical centre for African consciousness in which knowledge, education and sustenance are nurtured in the representation and intelligence of the continent.”

Architect David Adjaye



P E R S O N A L I T Y S N A P S H O T: F A N C O U R T


Leroy Ferreira, corporate sales manager at Fancourt, shares his personal and professional views and aspirations with Meetings magazine.


Where do you see the MICE industry currently, where would you like to see this in the next five to ten years and what will it take to get there? Much like most of the hospitality industry, it will probably take the next 24 months to recover, reinvent itself and relaunch its USPs both nationally and internationally. The one thing that lockdown has shown us is that virtual will never replace face-to-face. The industry must now embrace technology and use it as part of a successful event and not as a replacement for events. For us at Fancourt, flights to and from George are more often than not the biggest hurdle towards securing more business but, through industry partnerships, we stay abreast of all the geopolitical happenings and ensure that our voice is heard.




What do you enjoy the most about what you do?

What are some of your career highlights?

From concept to production of the actual event, what we do involves a myriad of people and it all comes together at some point in order to create a success. There is always a mixture of information overload, pressure, confusion, frantic emails and phone calls but – ultimately – it ends with big smiles on our clients’ faces. And that is very satisfactory.

I have met many champions of industry and celebs over the past 24 years of being in the hospitality industry, but the single biggest highlight is still every single time I am part of a recruitment team that says to a candidate, “We choose you!”

LEROY’S PRO TIP: Create a solution, find a fix to the problem, and don’t give up. If you can effect change, you must.

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




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

The Planner


This alternative monthly publication investigates new trends, ideas and strategies relevant to the meetings and events industry to keep you ahead of the planner pack. Meetings provides a platform for branding and promoting venues and service providers to the heart of the South African conferencing and event industries.

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


ACQUISITION AMBITION While some industries have taken a serious knock, the virtual events platform business is booming. Meetings reveals the hotspots.


he past year has been very difficult for business to survive without some component that allows for online engagement with their clients and audiences. This has led to the rapid adoption of digital technologies and, in particular, virtual event platforms to support these solutions. Based on a 187-page report titled Virtual Event Platform Market with COVID-19 Impact by Component by research consultancy Markets and Markets, the virtual event platform market is currently valued at US$10.4 billion (R157 billion). It is forecast to grow at a CAGR of 12.7% between now and 2026, when it will be valued at around $18.9 billion (R286 billion). “The major development and differentiating factor in virtual event platforms are the capability to engage thousands of attendees at once, the ability to simulate real-life venues and infrastructures, and ever-evolving attendee engagement solutions. Developing countries across APAC (Asia Pacific) and MEA (the Middle East and Africa) are expected to offer more opportunities for vendors in


the market,” Markets and Markets says in its summary of the report.


Several mergers and acquisitions within the virtual event platform space over the past year are indicative of how rapidly this market is growing. In mid-May, Cisco announced that it would acquire Socio Labs Inc – a four-year-old event management solutions company. The acquisition will result in the creation of a potent hybrid eventing solution. “We are excited to announce Cisco’s intent to acquire Socio Labs, a US-based, modern event technology platform designed to power the hybrid events of the future. With Socio’s end-to-end event management platform, Cisco will provide event organisers with everything they need to successfully host an in-person, virtual or hybrid event,” said Javed Khan, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco Collaboration, in an official company statement. With the addition of Socio to its portfolio, Cisco is looking forward to empowering

event organisers to provide ‘inclusive’ and engaging experiences for both in-person as well as virtual attendees across each event, regardless of size and format. “Socio enables easy-to-use, highly customisable branded registration and ticketing capabilities, compelling and integrated web, mobile and event hall experiences, and delivers real-time analytics and actionable insights about event attendees, sponsors, exhibitors and more. With Socio technology, event organisers are able to foster continuous engagement with attendees by building and maintaining profiles and preferences, and serving attendees a personalised journey across the life cycle of all their events,” Javed noted in the statement. Socio has been ahead of the curve on engagement trends and built a virtual eventing suite to provide a solution for seamless hybrid events at the very beginning of the pandemic. “Socio shares Cisco’s sentiment that the future of events, like the future of work, will be hybrid and with that comes increased complexity for event managers to create inclusive, meaningful and measurable interactions for both virtual and in-person attendees. Socio offers powerful Webex technology to provide customers with an unparalleled hybrid event management solution to engage participants whether

#M&A they join in person or virtually,” said Yarkin Sakucoglu, co-founder of Socio, following the announcement by Cisco.


At the beginning of July, it was announced that the virtual events platform company Hopin had snapped up Attendify to grow its event marketing offering. Hopin celebrated its second birthday in June and the acquisition of Attendify marks its fifth acquisition during this past year. “Our ambition is to build a unified product suite that delivers everything event professionals need to plan, produce and promote events – from beginning to end. An essential part of bringing to life an inspiring event is the ability to find your audience, to attract and build a community of kindred spirits. To that end, Hopin is proud to announce our acquisition of Attendify, which will advance our event marketing product offering,” said Hopin in the announcement on its website. Hopin already owns StreamYard, Streamable, Jamm and mobile app Topi. Its latest acquisition of Attendify is expected to advance Hopin Events, the company’s event management platform, which comprises four pillars: Virtual Venue: an online environment, where organisers can deliver event programmes that attendees can participate in, in real time. Studio: a live video production studio by StreamYard, which enables the broadcast of professional, brandable video content. Event Marketing: tools designed for the promotion of events and engagement with communities. Onsite: technology and services for the management of in-person events. Through the acquisition of Attendify, Hopin aims to refine its event marketing offering and provide more value for its clients by reaching a broader audience and delivering critical engagement insights. “If events are moments in time, communities are everything in-between. We are already partnering with Michael Balyasny and the excellent Attendify team in order to build the next generation of event marketing tools,” commented Johnny Boufarhat, CEO of Hopin. Hopin also has plans in the pipeline to enable greater audience attendance and engagement with the delivery of new capacities that will include tools such as Audience CRM and Campaign Manager. Audience CRM will provide a “comprehensive attendee data platform that will give event organisers a 360-degree view of engagement within an event (e.g. data on which attendees visited a sponsor booth, voted in a poll, or participated in a session).” It will achieve this by giving event hosts insights into understanding their audiences to produce tailored events, marketing campaigns, and products and services that are of value to them.

1 2 3 4

FURTHER READING • Virtual Event Platform Market with COVID-19 Impact by Component • Cisco Announces Intent to Acquire Socio • Hopin Expands Event Marketing Suite With Acquisition of Attendify

Meanwhile, Campaign Manager will give event organisers access to Hopin’s tools to better drive event registrations as well as communicate with attendees and audiences.


Opportunities within the virtual events platform market may be flourishing; however, there remain some obstacles that are impeding its growth. These include issues around data privacy and security, as well as a lack of skills and expertise in integrating new virtual event software. “Organisations maintain a different system for mailing and video conferencing, which increases chances of error and increases manual workload. Thus, integrating virtual event software can impact the growth of the virtual event platform market,” says Markets and Markets.




LOSE YOURSELF AT The Palace of the Lost City For nearly 30 years, The Palace of the Lost City at Sun City has captured hearts and imaginations. Join Meetings magazine as we understand what sets this gem aside.


ucked away in the North West province of South Africa is the Sun City Resort – one of the country’s most iconic and popular venues. After opening in 1979, it quickly grew in popularity as a venue for hosting getaway conferences and major events, in addition to being one of the few places South Africans could legally gamble until 1994. On the back of this success, in December 1992, The Palace of the Lost City opened its doors

to the public, further cementing Sun City’s position as a leading hospitality provider that continues to leave an indelible impression on anyone who has ever been fortunate enough to have visited it. Sol Kerzner was the visionary behind the Lost City concept, which includes The Palace of the Lost City, a golf course designed by Gary Player and the Valley of Waves, among other unique features. When it first launched in 1992, it immediately attracted local attention; with

Acting Minister of Health Mmamoloko Kubayi following her vaccination at Sun City

85 000 m3 of cement poured and a 25-hectare jungle, nothing quite as grand or sizeable had ever been constructed within the borders of South Africa. The Lost City is every bit as intriguing as it was intended to be and, as the story goes, it was “inspired by the myth of a lost African kingdom… Fabled to be the royal residence of an ancient king, the grand proportions and graceful towers of The Palace are enhanced by sculptural detail, mosaics, frescoes and fountains, and nestled in an enchanting setting of an exotic jungle, complete with murmuring streams and gushing waterfalls.”

PALACE OF DREAMS The Palace of the Lost City is the jewel of Sun City and is as impressive as it is massive. Since opening its doors, it has hosted VIPs, celebrities and international dignitaries, and a stay at the uber-luxe The Palace remains one of the most sought-after accommodation experiences in South Africa. It is immediately clear from driving down to the entrance of the five-star hotel that luxury awaits. Guests are warmly greeted as their luggage is placed on trolleys ready to be taken up to their rooms after they check in, while their vehicles are driven down to the basement parking.



LOST CITY FAST FACTS • The Lost City was conceptualised in 1989 and took 28 months to complete. • 5 000 people were part of the construction that laid 30 million bricks and 15 000 custom pieces of precast concrete. • There are 75 000 m of electrical wiring throughout The Palace with 6 500 light fittings including the over 5 m x 4.2 m chandelier in the Crystal Court. • The King’s Tower, at 70 m, is the tallest of the 10 Palace towers. • The 25-hectare jungle is its own unique biome that is home to 3 200 species of plants, trees and shrubs. Three quarters of the plants are indigenous to Southern Africa, and others were sourced from countries such as Madagascar and the Comoros.

The bronze sable antelope fountain featured among neat flower beds on either side, heavy wooden doors, marble finishings, a crystal chandelier and the intricate wildlife tapestry that adorns The Palace reception make for an opulent display that is sure to let anyone know that this isn’t a typical hotel stay. Luxury fittings and attention to detail aside, what makes The Palace so special is its remarkable service. From Siphiwe Mbele, who does turn-down each evening, to Francois du Toit, head of guest relations, staff working at The Palace are dedicated to serving guests’ every need.

ACTIVITIES GALORE Those who are seeking an outdoor adventure are spoilt for choice with things to do at Sun City. With a zip slide that goes up to a speed of 120 km per hour, as well as the largest permanent maze structure in the southern hemisphere – accessible only via a 90 m suspension bridge – it is clear to see why thrillseekers are keen to go to Sun City. In addition to its exhilarating attractions, it is home to Africa’s only inland beach – the Valley of Waves. With several high-speed slides, an enormous wave pool and a relaxing lazy river ride, it is any water enthusiast’s dream. And for wildlife aficionados, the Pilanesberg National Park & Game Reserve is not to be

missed. The biodiverse area sits atop an extinct volcano and, in addition to over 7 000 animals and 300 bird species, it is home to the big five.

ALL PROTOCOLS OBSERVED The implementation of stringent health and safety protocols across the entirety of the Sun City premises ensures that the venue can keep all guests and staff safe. Before entering the gates of the property, sanitisation, screening and temperature checks are done to ensure those entering are well. In addition to the clear signposting throughout Sun City that requests patrons to wear masks, wash hands and respect social distancing measures, health and safety ambassadors are designated to be present in very busy areas to remind people to adhere to the measures in place. This is done either with a whistle or by waving a sign to get the attention of people who appear not to be following these protocols. “We have invested a lot in the training of our staff,” notes Lwazi Mswelanto, SHE manager for Sun City, who asserts that the strength of Sun City’s protocols is underpinned by its staff. “The guests’ confidence will always start with how they see them perform their duties and the measures they take to ensure compliance,” he says. In July, Sun City became the first hospitality venue to open a vaccination centre in South Africa. To date, the Moses Kotane Mass Vaccination Site has vaccinated 3 500 staff, guests and members of the community from the Moses Kotane District, including other resorts and hotels within the area.

The challenge is to get people to commit to the idea of blowing the customer away by giving them an experience ahead of what they expect.”

Hotel magnate Sol Kerzner on keeping guests intrigued





Meetings speaks to Francois Swart, founder and managing director of Priority Escapes, about the company’s offering that means South Africans can travel directly to Cancun, Mexico.


hat will it take to get people to travel again? This is one question that companies like Priority Escapes are working to answer. Priority Escapes is disrupting the travel industry with its latest travel package that offers direct flights to Cancun, Mexico, for its clients. Mexico is one of the few countries South Africans can travel to without a mandatory quarantine period. “I have been to Mexico three times, and I just know it is everything South Africans love in a destination! From the culture to the food, and with such a variety of things to do – not to mention the amazing weather and, of course, tequila – it caters to everyone. The biggest issue has historically been lengthy transit times with connecting flights and limited options. I believe we have resolved this with direct flights and excellent deals, making it easier and more accessible than ever before for clients to visit,” says Francois.

“We have made it our mission to overcome the limited flight and destination options for local adventure seekers and travel to some of the world’s most desirable destinations,” Francois comments. Offering direct flights to Cancun, which are 100% exclusive to Priority Escapes customers, the company has reduced travel times from over 22 hours to just 17 hours in some cases. From direct flights to destinations and five-star packages at hotels that have signed exclusively with Priority Escapes, no other tour operators are taking the risk to pioneer charter flights and direct routes for South African travellers, Francois tells Meetings. “Mexico has always been aspirational, but difficult to get to. Also, transit through the USA means US visa requirements apply, which is now not needed. Only a Mexican visa is required, which is easily obtained from the Mexican Embassy in Pretoria,” he says.


While the travel and tourism industry is keen to see levels of activity picking up to where they were previously, confidence in travelling safely is a factor – but much of this falls in the hands of the traveller, explains Francois.

Having already established a very popular direct route to the Maldives, Priority Escapes continues to expand its offerings, and Cancun is its next bucket list destination.



“I personally believe that our travellers are a lot safer travelling than doing a local grocery shop! Industries like travel are uniquely motivated to keep clients safe because they need them to have a great time and come back, so airlines and airports for one are fastidious about protocols. From there on, a lot of the responsibility lies with travellers: wear your mask, wash your hands, and be mindful.”

STAYING FOCUSED It wasn’t easy for Priority Escapes to get to where it is currently, and the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in the business being shut down for eight months. “Our corporate desk closed completely, international travel pressed pause, and we had to retrench staff. When the first restrictions lifted, I started by selling some local travel for people, all the while waiting for restrictions to lift as I consulted with industry experts on how we could facilitate it safely. We then reopened with a destination that I know and love – the Maldives – to give people an opportunity to get out and build trust in travel again,” says Francois. Speaking on the psychological effects associated with the economic downturn as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, Francois recognises how many people slid into a depressive spiral over the past year. He feels that pivoting saved his company, which motivated him to keep identifying business opportunities. “A pivot is a change in direction without losing sight of your ultimate destination – we just took a different path. There are still opportunities, and it is our challenge to find solutions for

#CANCUN I have even more ambitious destinations up my sleeve! But as for what those are, you’ll have to stay tuned! Just make sure your passport has a few pages open...” people. You can be overwhelmed or motivated by it. Instead of committing to doing things how we have always done them, there is a space for entrepreneurs to think outside the box and identify chances; embrace them, and go a little out of our comfort zones, identifying destinations and mechanisms we were not familiar with in the past and getting good at it. Having good relationships with clients and partners certainly helps and, as I remind my team, sometimes you need to build your wings on the way down,” he enthuses.

• To get a taste of what’s on offer, click here: watch?v=Vi3e0m4i7Vg • For information on all packages, booking enquiries and destination information, please visit

MAJOR MILESTONE As a testament to Priority Escapes’ ingenuity within the travel sector, it has achieved its newest milestone with an internal record of over R28 million in sales for the month of August. Embracing digital transformation, implementing new and aggressive marketing strategies, as well as being able to streamline and optimise its channels with the consumer in mind, Priority Escapes has been able secure its place among industry giants. According to managing director Francois Swart, excellence and innovation are the key driving forces behind making

ABOUT FRANCOIS SWART “I first became involved in travel when I started working for a major retailer at the beginning of my career. I fell in love with travel for the opportunities it afforded me, and I loved giving that to others. From here, I started a traditional agency with a corporate desk, and worked like everyone else did – through other wholesalers all the while creating valuable business relationships and connections. This ultimately led to the opportunity to work directly with airlines and resort partners, with the realisation that I could get better-than-ever deals for our clients. This led to me launching Priority Escapes in 2020, with the new business model of us handling everything for our clients, from start to end. It has meant less stress and more affordability in a time when it’s needed most.”

R28.7 million in sales during the month of August. The tourism industry was among those hit hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic, and this achievement not only reflects the company’s commitment to the industry, but also continued service delivery and growth. “The key contributor to our success is finding and keeping the best employees. We have a relatively new team so, as we get to streamlining processes and our ever-growing business, we will just continue to grow from strength to strength. Let’s also not forget opportunity, being willing to take risks, and ensuring that the partnerships you form are robust from the start,” says Francois.





Digital gives SA champion a global stage

The online edge

At the end of August, a South African took the equivalent of Olympic gold in a non-sporting discipline, based partly on the same kind of dedication – but with the kind of support structure anyone can create in their own bedroom, using digital platforms, writes Arthur Goldstuck.


ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK is the president of the Johannesburg Chapter of PSASA, a member of the SA Events Council.

sually, to win a gold medal at the Olympic Games, one needs not only a lifetime of dedication, but also a massive investment in a support structure and ecosystem that enables you merely to turn up at the event. Towards the end of August, Capetonian Verity Price won the 2021 World Championship of Public Speaking, hosted by Toastmasters International – a non-profit educational organisation that teaches public speaking and leadership skills with more than 300 000 members in 149 countries. Verity is a member of both Toastmasters and the Professional Speakers Association of Southern Africa (PSASA). For the World Championships, no fewer than 25 000 people competed in local events that culminated in 28 people representing their regions at the semi-finals. The venue for the event? The competitors’ own bedrooms, lounges, offices, garages, or wherever they were able to set up their computers and cameras. This meant that, when Price was crowned Southern African champion in May, qualifying for the world semi-finals, she could focus on her virtual stagecraft, rather than on a massive effort required to compete in global events held in distant locations. The result: she became not only the first South African world champion of public speaking, but also the first from the continent of Africa, and only the fifth woman in the 80-year history of the competition.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? Aside from the magnitude of the achievement, her triumph represented a dramatic lesson in how any individual or business based in South Africa – or anywhere in what are called emerging markets – can use technology to excel on a world stage. Performing virtually on this stage did not require excessive investment in technology. “I was using my little HP Envy laptop, a Logitech C 920 webcam and two ring lights on either side. Until


I got to the world semi-finals, I was using the built-in microphone in the camera and I thought it was fine. Then someone showed me the difference when you use a direct mic; someone lent me Rode Wireless GO II clip-on lapel mics, and that made a big difference.” Verity quickly realised, however, that the technology was not a differentiator. “For the semi-finals, when they were doing technical setups, I discovered that everyone has different life issues, and no one was using the same technology. I live in a complex where the internet connection was my biggest problem, so I ended up competing from my parents-in-law’s study. I just needed a plain wall behind me.”

THE RIGHT APPROACH Verity’s can-do approach also highlighted the fact that digital competitiveness is about attitude rather than tech. “In the finals, there were 50 000 people watching, but you have no sense of that. I had to work with a mindset that it was necessary for me to visualise my international audience. I couldn’t see them, I could only see myself. All I could worry about was: is my internet connection stable? Is my camera in focus? Can I just speak through the camera to this imaginary stadium full of people?” The lessons for businesses are clear: the technology gives you a global stage, but understanding global audiences needs a combination of cultural sensitivity, local knowledge, and utilising the specific tools and training available in one’s ecosystem.

This column first appeared in and has been adapted from the Sunday Times. In addition to being the founder of World Wide Worx, Arthur Goldstuck is also editor-in-chief of Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee.



Recreating organised events Organised events are making a comeback – but will we ever see capacities return to the same levels? Sven Bossu and Patrick Hoffnung debate this.


et’s start with the good news: organised events are taking place again throughout Europe and the smiles on the faces of the participants are a clear indicator that the need for meeting face to face is very high. At the same time, both organisers and convention centres need to work harder to convince participants to join the events physically. One way of doing so is by offering a new type of experience by making full use of all the assets of a destination. Following 18 months of digital interaction, organised events are back, albeit very often much smaller in size. There are several reasons for this decrease in participation: there are still travel restrictions in place – both on a country and company level; budgets have suffered; and, most importantly, people must be offered compelling and convincing reasons to make the journey, as most events now offer the possibility to join digitally. Why would you take the trouble of going to a venue if you can attend from the comfort of your home office?

WHY GO? PATRICK HOFFNUNG is the CEO of the European Convention Center Luxembourg (ECCL).


The key reasons for attending any event are always linked with the content of the conference, the business benefits, the opportunities for sharing knowledge and networking, etc. All these elements are under the control of the event organiser. However, we believe convention centres can make a marked difference when it comes to making the case for the participants to join physically by offering experiences that complement or reinforce the core value proposition of the organiser. To do so successfully, there must be a thorough and joint understanding of the profile and the needs of the participants. A radiotherapist going to a medical conference is likely to have different needs and expectations than a senior banker attending a fintech exhibition or a young entrepreneur involved in a hackathon during an event for start-ups. The better the understanding by the convention

centre, the more tailor-made solutions can be defined.

LEADING BY EXAMPLE At the ECCL, its leadership fully understood this need and, with local partners, developed a full suite of offerings for event organisers and participants. The location of the convention centre gave it a clear advantage to do so: close to the heart of the historical city, surrounded by a concert hall, a museum for modern art, a shopping centre, and a wide range of hotels, bars and restaurants. All these stakeholders were convinced that, by working together, a win-win situation could be created for both the individual companies and Luxembourg as a destination. As a result, the ECCL and its partners can offer both organisers and participants unique experiences. Thanks to its ‘privileges pass’, it can combine participation at a conference with attending a classical concert, upgrades in hotels, stunning social events in the modern art museum, discounts in restaurants or shops, etc. And all of this in walking distance of the convention centre, turning the entire area into an event plaza. It is also important to note that the offering will be under continuous construction. By closely monitoring and sharing the results – for example, the percentage of the participants taking up one or more elements of the offering – the ECCL and its partners can finetune and improve the offer, based on data points collected (while of course respecting all privacy rules). With this offer, the ECCL wants to provide organisers with the opportunity to present something unique to their communities and make the case for making the journey even more compelling. Other convention centres and destinations worldwide are taking similar steps and we truly believe that these efforts will make a difference in bringing back conference and exhibition participants, to the benefit of all involved.




INDUSTRY VIEWS Bragging rights

Don’t stop making noise Adele Hartdegen urges organisers to make as much ‘noise’ as possible to reiterate the tremendous economic contribution made by trade shows and exhibitions.

D ADELE HARTDEGEN is the CEO of the Johannesburg Expo Centre and Dogan Events, and a board member of AAXO.

INDUSTRY VIEWS EGF announces its ManCo

uring the last couple of months, I have had to field a few difficult questions from people outside the business events industry, predominantly asking about the long-term survival of the trade show and exhibition component of our industry. In having these conversations with senior managers from various companies, I once again realised that the true value of our industry as a catalyst for business growth is sadly still not completely clear to many individuals outside our space. As organisers, we carry the responsibility to now, more than ever, make as much noise as we possibly can to show that our brands are still alive and well, and reiterate the tremendous economic contribution we make. Now is not the time to be quiet and stay off social and digital media platforms – it is critical that organisers actively engage on these platforms and clearly define the value of their shows and the contribution these make to the industries they represent.

on recent updates in their fields since the last conference, and keep creating value-adding online content to reaffirm the power of your brand. Now is the time to make noise – to show that we are relevant and that we can make an immense contribution towards reigniting economic growth!

All-star cast Towards the end of August and Women’s Month, the EGF announced the latest appointments to its Management Committee. Lynn McLeod delivers the highlights.

circumstances prevailing over the past year. She is the founder and director of African Mamas Crafts – a social enterprise based in Johannesburg but operating across three different provinces in South Africa to create urbanrural linkages and support rural livelihoods.



t our recent AGM, we elected some new faces who are all women. We have also added several subcommittees to ensure that the work of the EGF carries on unabated into the future.


LYNN MCLEOD is the secretariat for the Event Greening Forum (EGF).

We need to ensure that our offering is well understood by all in the marketing realm to ensure it remains a key element of the marketing mix for many years to come. Educating the upcoming workforce and decision-makers about the economic impact of trade shows and exhibitions – and how these shows actively contribute to the development of industries, the establishment of new companies and, ultimately, job creation – should be a key focus area for all. Share statistics of the impact of your shows, the number of jobs created, service providers used, and the local community impact. Lead with knowledge by resharing summarised content pieces from previous conference sessions around popular topics, interview keynote speakers

Lethabo Kgotse is a tourism management graduate of the University of Johannesburg and was one of the students attending the IMEX-MPI-MCI Future Leaders Forum Africa at Meetings Africa 2019. In addition to her top academic marks, she makes time to volunteer for two NGOs. While she is with us, Lethabo will be tasked with overseeing our Green Database. She is also handling all the EGF’s social media and participates in the implementation of our marketing initiatives.

NOMASWAZI – CHAIR: MEMBERSHIP AND SUBSIDISED MEMBERS SUBCOMMITTEE Nomaswazi Tinus has been in this position for most of 2020, but there was very little she could achieve in the


Geraldene Parmassar entered the business events industry in 2019 and worked at the forum, where she managed events such as bridal open days, weddings, and conferences. In addition to serving on the EGF’s Management Committee, Geraldine is a member of the Membership/BEE Subcommittees. She has also been appointed as chair of the Education and Training Subcommittee.

CHANTAL – MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE, MARKETING AND FINANCE SUBCOMMITTEES Chantal Croaster currently heads up the Conference and Exhibition Services Division at the CTICC. Her key focus in her role at the EGF will be to investigate what possibilities there are to change the conference and exhibition landscape in South Africa by introducing more sustainable solutions to the market. We welcome them all to the EGF Management Committee and look forward to them infusing new energy and vitality into the EGF.


INDUSTRY VIEWS Home-grown challenge


INDUSTRY VIEWS Compliance is key

KEVAN JONES is the executive director of SACIA.

Inside-out recovery Confidence from within will aid the recovery of the business events industry, says Glenton de Kock.


s South Africa moves towards the road to recovery, the Covid-19 pandemic will have a lasting impact on our lives. We have witnessed many a business and professional lost to our business events industry. This impact will affect how the industry reopens. We are witnessing how the rest of the world is dealing with the return of the business traveller. One view is that we need to stimulate city confidence before we see regional movement of the business traveller. This will allow for the return to offices for those companies unable to continue to operate remotely. Confidence to meet in person starts with you, and we have seen some positive movement, none more notable than at the recent Africa’s Travel and Tourism Summit, held towards the end of September by South African Tourism and the National Department of Tourism. The optimistic sentiment shared and felt is one that we need to share around the country. Our industry has demonstrated that we can meet safely and in a responsible manner.

Organisations and employees around South Africa will adapt as we move either back to the office or on to the road. It’s clear for many of us, and more so the business traveller, as a society, we will be more mindful as we make our way out from behind our screens, our self-made home offices, and our casual wear. Employees might have gotten used to conference calls and realised that some in-person meetings aren’t necessary. Some businesses might have adapted much better than they expected and decided to keep some of the changes they’ve put in place. Depending on personal circumstances, some people might feel anxious about travelling. However, business travel will undeniably be different, but it will pick up slowly. The new normal for business travel will be a more mindful, thought-out way of travelling. In the long run, it will benefit both employees and employers, leading to a better work-life balance for the former and a better return on investment for the latter. Domestic travel will grow, and international travel will follow.

Checking the right boxes Kevan Jones encourages the industry to keep on the right side of the law by working with competent people.


verybody working in the technical production and live events industry will have come across instances where a competent person is required to perform a specific function – either signing off a temporary structure or operating as an event safety officer responsible for taking all reasonable and necessary steps to ensure compliance with the provisions of the SASREA Act (No. 2 of 2010). The Department of Employment and Labour (DoEL) has now issued a guideline that describes what makes an individual competent. It’s essential to recognise that a measurement of competence is task-specific. In general, an employer is responsible for evaluating and deciding if a person is competent based on reviewing their knowledge, skills and experience. In addition, the person claiming competence needs to defend their level of competency against clear standards. The simplest way for any individual to do so is to apply for a professional designation registered in terms of the provisions of the National Qualifications Framework Act (No. 67 of 2008).

Why is this important to event organisers? Because it is an event organiser who must take all necessary and reasonable steps to ensure the safety and security of spectators and their property, and that of all persons present at an event at a stadium or a venue or along a route or their respective precincts. If you don’t appoint a competent person as an event safety officer, any failure in the safety and security plan will come back to bite you. The consequences can be severe. Suppose you are already working with an event safety officer. Why not ask them if they have a professional designation that recognises their skill, knowledge and experience in the events industry? I’m not talking about a general OHS certificate or someone with a health and safety certificate in construction. I’m talking about somebody who understands the legislation, standards and regulations that apply specifically to the events sector. If they don’t, protect yourself by directing them to the Event Safety Council’s website ( where you can download the DoEL guideline and learn more about professional recognition for event safety officers.




If you’ve decided to stick it out in the events industry, don’t think you’ll just be able to go with the flow, says Miss Meet.



magine having a 12-month strategy during this time... that would be hilarious!” was what I heard mentioned during an event I attended in person recently. And the person who said this is, in my opinion, quite correct. With where we are in our recovery, it would be absurd to go through the enormous trouble of putting together a 12-month strategy believing that we could roll this out according to each action point. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, setting longterm business growth and development goals would have been a hard-and-fast requirement. Setting goals hasn’t changed, but our strategies now need to be multipronged and subject to continuous review.

HAVE A CONTINGENCY FOR YOUR PLAN B A great deal of lobbying is being done in South Africa by our industry associations at a government level to ensure players along the MICE industry value chain are not


laurels overly impacted by the ever-changing set of regulations. However, until the existing proposals and tabled guidelines put forward are accepted by government, we still need to adhere to capacities as per the current risk-adjusted lockdown regulations. This is, unfortunately, compounding the existing challenges faced by the industry – much longer lead times are required to bring together incentives and exhibitions, and last-minute cancellations can be costly and frustrating for organisers and sponsors. It is for this reason that we need to be innovative in our approach and how we implement these experiences, and to explore the different issues that may arise. Key in this is to understand what is viable with the minimum allowable capacities at the time, as well as what options are available to us should we be hit by another wave of the novel coronavirus, which means we can expect more stringent lockdown regulations to be enforced.

SCENARIO PLANNING A digitally supported event will already provide a means for your event to go ahead, but there is also the matter of how to manage costs and cancellations of any physical component. Communicate openly with your sponsors, suppliers and delegates on what they can expect in the very likely event there will be a change to lockdown regulations. Work with venues that can be adaptable and support your requirements; move physical attendance online, with only speakers and panellists in-person if needs be. Keep catering to a minimum and consider alternatives for food items to be packaged and delivered to locally based attendees. Negotiate with your venue or caterer on how to manage these scenarios. Lastly, don’t lose sight of what you set out to achieve by hosting your event and how this will best realise your objectives. While the timing of this is a consideration, if it doesn’t make sense for you to change the format of your event, rather see how you can postpone it to a later date.

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