We sat down with Mr Solly Mogaladi, the CEO of Tshwane Economic Development Agency (TEDA), to discuss the future of the MICE industry in South Africa.
Q Give us a brief rundown of your MICE industry experience to date.
A Our Destination Marketing division has a combined MICE industry experience amounting to more than 40 years. We have colleagues that have worked at organisations such as SA Tourism, Tsogo Sun, conference centres across the country and abroad, as well as provincial and municipal tourism organisations. Some of the events that our team has worked on include the following:
· 2019 Tshwane Trade & Investment Summit
· Cop 17
· 2010 FIFA World Cup
· Meetings Africa; Tourism Indaba
· 2018 World Choir Game
· 2018 International Tourism Studies Association Conference
We are very confident in the capability of our destination’s team in the MICE industry.
Q What is your perception about the future of the South African conferencing and events industry as well as incentive travel?
A The MICE industry is undoubtedly one of the most lucrative and economically responsive sector of the tourism economy. Business events are still the most lucrative segment of the tourism industry with the growth of facilities being seen worldwide. South Africa is certainly in a position to grow this industry, with immense economic benefits to our cities. Tshwane has seen a growth in events coming to the city due to the increased capacity of the destination. This is set to continue into 2020.
Tshwane has enjoyed an increase in number of local association and regional conferences held across venues within the city. As an academic and research destination, majority of the conferences were linked to research and academia. This continues to position our City as the research hub of the Country, and dare we say the African continent.
We predict that in 2020, there will be more interest from associations, in destinations that position themselves as centres of knowledge and excellence. Investment attraction will also focus more on tourism investment – the recent Hotel Investment Africa conference and Tshwane Trade and Investment Summit are examples of this trend.
Q Digitalisation is forcing us to rethink – what used to be valid is now being called into question. How is the local MICE industry reacting to this?
A The importance of conference venues’ technological capabilities and innovation cannot be overlooked. Technology is becoming an integral part of the requirements for planners from meeting venues. Venues will be expected to provide technology that supports easy and fast connectivity, delegate interaction, social networking, data security and simulcasting, to name just a few.
Q Do you believe that technology will substitute meetings in the future and, consequently, the flow of business travellers to destinations will decrease?
A The need for face-to-face meetings and interaction will always be there. People by their nature need human connection to build trust and relationships. Business values the networking and human connection even more so in this digital age. That is one of the contradictions in the MICE industry.
I do however believe that we will also see an increase in the demand for hybrid meetings where technology and humans meet. So technology will facilitate attendance for those that can absolutely not make face-to-face events.
There will be an impact on the number of attendees. No doubt there. However, I don’t believe it will be so significant as to demolish the MICE industry’s profitability.
Q According to various surveys, the industry sees event formats as shorter and more interactive in the future. What challenges will organisers on the one hand, but also locations on the other – also against the background of digital media – face in order to maintain or expand business?
A Destinations, planners and venues will need to be very innovative in the “now future”. The industry will need to think of ways to maximise the economic impact of shorter events, as well as find ways to monetise their events’ digital platforms. Long haul destinations like South Africa will need to offer very attractive extender tourism packages to encourage longer stays.
Q In your opinion, what can South Africa do in order to gain more business from the MICE industry – or do you think all is done?
A We will never be “all done”. There is always more to be done to attract more business. Improving customer service and satisfaction is key. Having the right infrastructure is also very important. Cities need to ensure that they focus on investing in MICE industry to reap the rewards. Investment in Business Tourism is becoming more common in Africa, as we all realise the importance of the MICE industry.
Q How can the MICE industry master the balancing act between the digital transformation of events such as live streams and the experienced character on the other hand?
A Understanding the clients we serve will help us to deliver the experience they expect – digital or not – to the best of our ability. The business events industry is seeing more young people (millennials) becoming important players and influencers, and understanding this complex market is one of the challenges facing the industry in striking a balance between technology and experience. It will become more and more important to differentiate our offerings.
Q Talking new event formats with a high adventure and experience character in MICE industry, how do you see this development in the next five years?
A Tshwane is very aware of the trend to incorporate adventure and experience into business events and we are well positioned to deliver on this. Dinokeng Game Reserve is harnessing the opportunity of conferencing in the bush with some of the lodges offering conference facilities on their properties. Voluntourism focusing on conservation is also an offering one can find within the Dinokeng Tourism Zone and MICE industry planners are encouraged to incorporate this into their packages. The Cullinan Adventure Zone offers pre and post conference and teambuilding activities for the adventurous.
Q Tell us about some of the most sought after conferencing and events venue in Tshwane and elaborate on each one.
A Tshwane is filled with incredible spaces, some old, some new, all of which deserve our attention and investment. Driven by passion for the inner city, our vision is to build and grow a precinct in which people live, work and play. There are many exciting old and new venues in our city. Here are some.
Sun International Time Square Arena – a real gem and big win for the Capital City. Time Square’s Sun Arena is a a state-of-the-art, multipurpose venue in Tshwane that is equipped to host large-scale events, concerts, exhibitions and conferences. https://www.suninternational.com/time-square/arena/
The Venue Summit Place – situated in the private precinct called Summit Place Office Park (near Menlyn Park in Tshwane) and just off the N1 highway. This new and exciting venue offers a complete hospitality solution with a fresh modern approach, with emphasis on service, sensational food & in-house technical equipment. https://www.thevenue.co.za/summit-place
012central – 012central comprises a number of closely situated buildings that enable diverse, rich experiences for people or companies that need a venue for their event. Whatever you can imagine can be brought to life in one of our multipurpose venues. https://012central.co.za