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April 1, 2016

Sub-Saharan Africa: Meetings Africa Tours

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The Event speaks to some of the hosted buyers and association guests at Meetings Africa this year to find out what their highlights were and which pre- and post-event tours they participated in. 

Photo by Freeimages.com/Mike Johnson

Jeffers Miruka, Kenya
African Association of Agricultural Economists
President of the African Society of Association Executives (AfSAE)

What did you see and do whilst at Meetings Africa?

For me, Meetings Africa 2016 will go down as the most successful and with the most accomplishments. First, I think there were an increased number of exhibitors in comparison to the other years. This means that this 11-year-old tradeshow continues to grow. However, the biggest news, as you are aware, was the official launch of the African Society of Association Executives (AfSAE) where I am privileged to serve as President. We had a very successful Association BONDay that doubled as our 1st AfSAE Education Day. We also opened our new office at 124 Main Street that was officially opened by the Deputy Minister for Tourism, Hon. Madam Tokozile Xasa. I represented AfSAE as a guest at the SABC’s Morning Live broadcast from the Sandton Convention Centre.

Which tours did you go on, which attractions were visited?

I was lucky to be on a pre-event tour of the capital City of Tshwane. Our tours took us to Protea Hotel Fire & Ice that sits pretty in the buzzing lifestyle precinct of Summit Place in Menlyn Pretoria. Besides what Protea can offer, the other key highlight was learning how to bake pizza. Our next stop was at CSIR International Convention Centre and finally, the University of Pretoria. The day after, we started our tours with a visit to the Union Building, where the president runs the country. Thereafter we headed to Freedom Park situated at the Salvokop, where we learned more about the struggle for freedom in SA and other parts of the world. We wound up our tours with a visit to the serene, beautiful and tranquil country wine estate of Kievits Kroon

Why are pre- and post-event tours important in business events?

It is not enough to only meet, talk and share literature and data about a venue with a supplier without sightseeing. This is why the pre or post-tours play a key marketing role. The tours assist a buyer to see and feel what the venue(s) can offer to delegates. This makes it much easier to lobby for a specific venue due to what you can factually table. The pre and post-event tour is the smartest and most brilliant idea that the SA National Convention Bureau ever incorporated into the Meetings Africa show. 

Uwemedimo Esiet, Nigeria
Africa Federation for Sexual Health and Rights

What were your highlights at Meetings Africa 2016?

My first experience at Meetings Africa was mind-blowing! I was amazed to have all the service providers for conferences in one room and they were all there to support the conference, including motivating me to bring conferences to the respective venues and services. North, East West and Central Africa, and even the Arab nations – I was very impressed, it was a dynamic move bringing all Africans to the meeting. What I enjoyed the most was going to all the stands and getting one-on-one interaction with each of the service providers. If anything, I would have wanted the exhibition to be extended by one day. When you have so many exhibitors, there is not enough time. 

Which tours did you go on, which attractions were visited?

I went on a pre-event tour to Port Elizabeth and I arrived in the morning, with activities ongoing for the next two days. I would say sometimes for pre- tours I would encourage the information to be properly secured, not to be so rushed. We were whisked from place to place and there was really no time for transmission. There were too many things to remember and even to come back and report on what I saw took a while. 

Which places would you recommend?

I’ve been to Durban, Cape Town, PE, Pretoria – I travel a lot. Everywhere in SA is beautiful, it has a great history, and I think it is in the genuine interest of SA to interact with other Africans. SA should open up its borders for more tourists. 500 million Africans can travel are looking for opportunities. If there’s one question I would ask God it would be, why did you make Mandela in SA? Everything Mandela touches today becomes an attraction!

Robert Fungo, Ghana
African Nutrition Society

What were your highlights at Meetings Africa 2016? 

Networking with many people across the globe. But most importantly were two presentations, one made by a young Entrepreneur during the gala dinner regarding starting his soap business with his professor at Cape Town University, from scratch. The second was the first day of Meetings Africa presentations on how Associations can grow and retain memberships. 2016 Meetings Africa was well organized – better organized the 2014 Meetings I first attended. 

Which tours did you go on, which attractions were visited?

I and 12 other delegates took a tour of Port Elizabeth. We visited hotels and camping sites that had conference facilities. Most fascinating to me, was the Feather Market conference facility that was built in the 19th century, and yet it still had well-functioning facilities. If my Association has a meeting in SA, I would take it to Port Elizabeth, specifically to the Feather Market Centre. Taking us to the African Penguin Sanctuary in Port Elizabeth revealed that SA took wildlife serious by preserving and breeding the only surviving African Penguins in the world.

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