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January 21, 2016
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Sub-Saharan Africa: EXSA Members Give Insight Into Trends for 2016


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Exhibitions are one of the most effective mediums for establishing and maintaining customer relations. In an increasingly digital age, they are the only medium in which buyer, seller and product physically come together – a potent force for any business.

The exhibition industry has received positive feedback after a recent barometer was released, showing its growth on an international scale. A group of key Exhibition and Event Industry of South Africa (EXSA) members sat down to discuss what we can expect from EXSA in 2016, as well as the key trends for the coming year.

meeting room
Photo by Freeimages.com/Penny Gumulja

What can we expect from EXSA in 2016?

According to Sue Gannon, General Manager of EXSA, “Next year will be a bumper year for EXSA. We’ve got major shows in Durban including the Aids conference. In Johannesburg, we have the Electro-Mining Exhibition, SA Automotive Week and AAD, which is the Africa Aerospace and Defence show at Waterkloof Airbase. These shows attract international attention and bring in a lot of work for our industry”.

The annual EXSA conference will be held at the end of January 2016 and there are plans to address some of the pressing issues within the industry. “We are looking at upscaling and certifying various sectors within the industry alongside international health and safety training for our workers”, explains Sue. 

Brad Alder, EXSA Chairman, emphasises that another of the objectives to be addressed at the annual EXSA conference is the recognition of prior experience for those working in the industry. “This goes a long way to standardising and professionalising the industry”.

Trends for 2016

* Custom stands are not sustainable in today’s economy: “In a shrinking economy, the pressure is on to look after your expenses while maximising efficiencies”, believes Brad. Cladding existing material with fabric or board is an international trend that is becoming more and more prominent. 
It’s all about adding value: “The challenge is for EXSA to show value to members and, in a private capacity, show value to clients. In tough times, people are looking for extra mileage for less. It’s up to us to show return on investments”, highlights Andrew Binning, Chairman of the Organiser Forum.
Social media and technology: Nigel Walker, the Immediate Past Chair of EXSA, states that mergers of local and international companies are changing the dynamic in the industry, bringing in innovation in terms of apps and social media. Demand will be made on venues and organisers to reinvent what they do and how they do it. 
Venues are no longer traditional: You no longer have to have an exhibition centre to have an exhibition. Trends for 2016 include venues such as rugby fields with marquees being used to hold events. This diversifies the exhibition industry in South Africa and opens up the industry in Africa to the rest of the world. Africa is a growing market and South Africa is seen as the gateway. 

Andrew Billing stresses that the industry is going from strength to strength and concludes by saying, “The event industry in general is quite dynamic and in order to remain at the cutting edge, we will continue being creative and dynamic in our approach to ways to grow the industry”.


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