As Meetings Africa prepares to celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2015, loyal exhibitors reflect on the role the exhibition has played in developing and growing South Africa’s business events sector.
Since it was first held at the Sandton Convention Centre in 2005, Meetings Africa has grown from a small show into the continent’s premier and best represented business events exhibition.
Today, Meetings Africa is known around the world as the place to do business with Africa, a continent that continues to demonstrate its commitment to service excellence and delivery.
Exhibitors represented include convention bureaus, convention centres, destination management companies, professional conference organisers, local tourism authorities, transport and accommodation providers as well as trade associations from across the African continent.
“Meetings Africa is the most important platform for South African convention bureaus to meet with local, regional and international business event planners and decision makers,” says James Seymour, Chief Executive Officer of the Durban KwaZulu-Natal Convention Bureau.
For Robyn D’Allesandro, National Marketing Manager for the Gearhouse Group of Companies, a leading supplier to the live event industry Meetings Africa has proved an invaluable platform for building relationships.
“Our participation at Meetings Africa continues to be one of the most effective ways for us to directly access key business tourism role players by providing a platform to connect with end clients, intermediaries and fellow exhibitors alike on both a business and social level,“ says D’Allesandro.
Neil Fraser, Sales Director at hotel group, Tsogo Sun echoes these sentiments: “Many mutually beneficial and lasting relationships have been developed over the past ten years.”
Exhibitors, many of whom have participated in the show since its inception remain committed to being a part of the show.
“The CSIR ICC is certainly committed to exhibiting at Meetings Africa in the future as the quality of the hosted buyers and international media visiting the show is improving each year. We see Meetings Africa developing into a very large scale, well respected event on the international exhibitions calendar,” says Bronwen Cadle De Ponte, General Manager of the CSIR International Convention Centre.
Meetings Africa has been instrumental in driving South Africa’s global competitiveness as a business events destination.
“Positive indicators such as the fact that South Africa is moving up on the ICCA ranking certainly owe some credit to Meetings Africa as this platform provides a much higher level of business-to-business interaction than the meetings industry enjoyed previously when South Africa did not have its own business events exhibition,” notes De Pont.
Last year South Africa was ranked 34th in the global International Congress and Convention Association’s global rankings.
Since the first Meetings Africa in 2005, South Africa has seen significant investment in its business events infrastructure including the opening and expansion of a number of convention centres.
It has also seen the establishment in 2012 of the South Africa National Convention Bureau (SANCB), a business unit of South African Tourism, to coordinate the country’s efforts in attracting more business events to South Africa.
“The SANCB has ensured an ever increasing number of prequalified local and international buyers attend the show. In recent years, it is especially encouraging to see the number of new buyers who had never attended Meetings Africa before,” says Fraser.
Seymour agrees: “We have noted dramatic growth in terms of the number of business event decision makers that are attending this show. Our appointments at this event have grown by more than 30% since 2012.”
In 2014, the Meetings Africa matchmaking system resulted in 10 169 meetings between 819 attendees, averaging 10 meetings per participant.
Meetings Africa has also proved important for building a shared vision for the sector.
“Not only is this event a very useful business development opportunity for us, but over the years it has fostered a strong unity and pride amongst all our local participants in what the country has to offer to the global business events market,” says D’Allessandro.
Thulani Nzima, Chief Executive Office of South African Tourism says that this spirit of unity and sense of solidarity as an industry is what will continue to ensure the exhibition and the industry’s success.
“Whether its bidding for events, marketing the destination or coming together at Meetings Africa to offer the world the very best the continent has to offer under one roof, the South African business events industry has proved that it has the will and the determination to continue to drive and build the destination’s global competitiveness,” concludes Nzima.
Meetings Africa 2015 will be held from February 23-25 2015 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa.
For more information, visit www.meetingsafrica.co.za