The meetings and events industry has a powerful impact on the South African economy, writes Martin Hiller, who also takes a quick look at five major trends for 2017.
There is nothing quite so personal as meeting a person – whether it is at a business meeting, trade exhibition or gala dinner. According to a survey done by experiential marketing agency, Mosaic, more corporates are investing in event and experiential marketing.
The reason? “Live brand experiences are proving their ability to engage audiences effectively in an increasingly noisy world filled with so much digital marketing,” says Jeff Stelmach, president of Mosaic.
Shaking up the marketing mix
Chris Cavanaugh, chief marketing officer for Freeman, agrees. “We know mass-market is dead or dying, so brands are finding new ways to reach their audiences, and that’s been trending for a while now but it continues to accelerate. Live experiences are gaining a bigger share of the pie because they draw on the basic needs of us as humans to connect and socialise”.
By nature, humans are social and crave interaction. “The future of experiential marketing is going to be much more contextualised and much more personalised,” says Bob Priest-Heck, chief operating officer of Freeman. As a result, meetings and events are growing in popularity.
But what does this mean?
The South African National Convention Bureau (SANCB) was established to strategically position South Africa as a globally competitive, capable, professional, well organised and welcoming events destination. “Through the SANCB, South Africa now has a strategic platform for collaboration to claim a bigger slice of the global events market,” says Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo, chief Convention Bureau officer at SANCB.
In 2015, South Africa hosted 140 international association meetings and conferences that attracted just under 80 000 delegates to the country. These events generate 542 combined conference days and generated just over R1 billion in economic impact for the country.
South Africa has already secured 66 international association conferences and meetings for the five years starting in 2017. These events are already contracted for South Africa and are guaranteed business for the country’s tourism and hospitality industry.
“We estimate that these events will contribute about R1.4 billion in economic impact, will attract 108 134 association professionals and will generate 311 event days that will benefit all the suppliers in the business events value chain.
“In addition, we have 45 bids that are still pending, again planned to take place in the years up to 2022. These events have the potential to attract 112 000 delegates, over 216 days, and can potentially contribute R1.5 billion to our economy,” says Kotze-Nhlapo.
With such impressive stats, it is no wonder that there have been new event spaces popping up as well as many refurbs. Last year, Sun City embarked on a R1 billion upgrade of its entire complex. Part of this was the construction of the SunPark – an event and conferencing facility. It offers event organisers a space to host industry and lifestyle events of varying sizes.
The Galleria is Sandton’s newest contemporary event space boasting over 2 000m2 of column-free space and has been designed from the ground up to cater for spectacular corporate events.
Next year, Cape Town Convention Centre’s (CTICC) exhibition and trade fair capacity will increase significantly when CTICC East opens. The expansion has added another 10 000m2 of multi-purpose space to the convention centre.
Other noteworthy openings and refurbishments include: Century City Conference Centre (Cape Town), Riverside Sun (Vaal), Sandton Sun (Sandton) and NH The Lord Charles Hotel (Somerset West).
What the data shows
SANCB embarked on a five-year research study to measure a baseline for South Africa’s business events industry.
Two years of data has been collected and estimate, based on the report produced in conjunction with Grant Thorton, that the total direct spend for business events was R38.5 billion in 2014 and R42.4 billion in 2015.
In 2014, the International Meetings, Conference and Exhibition Industry supported some 267 660 direct and annual job equivalents in South Africa and 280 555 in 2015.
“This great performance shows that South Africa is a dynamic and stable economy, and we are confident that the work we do at the SANCB will contribute towards maintaining and growing this solid economy,” says Kotze-Nhlapo.
2017 Event trends
Clients are wanting something different – unique event spaces, content presented differently (away with PowerPoints), and great entertainment.
With smaller budgets and shorter lead times, venues and suppliers will need to
With the rise of the MasterChefs generation, clients and delegates are becoming more aware of what they eat. Chicken or beef no longer makes the grade. Menus need to take various food fads and cultural groups into consideration.
No longer a buzz word, sustainability or greening will continue to be major consideration when planning an event. Eco-friendly venues and suppliers will be in demand.
Event apps will dominate the event landscape and venues will need to provide free and reliable Wi-Fi in order to secure business.
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