2014 to herald new era for INDABA

Business facilitation is high on the agenda


About 200 Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (SATSA) members gathered at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg on 19 November 2013 to hear from Jan Hutton, South African Tourism (SAT) chief marketing officer, who outlined some of the key changes that will be implemented at INDABA over the next two years.

This was the first of three roadshows that SATSA is hosting with SAT (Durban and Cape Town are next) for members to learn about the proposed upgrade, as well as SAT’s new domestic tourism campaign.

Hutton spoke frankly about the challenges that have faced INDABA over the past few years, and how SAT is committed to transforming the show to make it more relevant to its target market.

SATSA members were given a transparent platform to air their views, openly share historical issues of dissatisfaction, and also contribute valuable suggestions on how INDABA should be revamped.

While the trade can expect to see a number of meaningful changes at INDABA 2014, it will not be practically possible to implement all envisioned improvements in the short period leading up to next year’s show. SAT is acutely focused on a two-year journey to secure INDABA’s dominance on the continent.

Hutton emphasised that INDABA is being reinvented to make sure it remains highly competitive, relevant to its core business purpose, and meets the needs of exhibitors, buyers and delegates. She added that a survey would be sent to the trade to request feedback on the proposed roadmap changes.

‘For INDABA to maintain its position as the premier travel trade show on the African continent, it has to present sufficient value to the trade. We are recreating an event that has a strategic golden thread running throughout, connecting all aspects, ensuring each has its specific purpose and fits within the context of the show,’ she told SATSA members.

With INDABA’s transformation into a contemporary pan-African trade show, it is being rebranded to bring the face of Africa to life and to be more representative of the continent – re-injecting fresh energy and revitalised clarity, underpinned by the exciting opportunity to do business with some of Africa’s top travel brands, all under one roof.

'We are modernising INDABA on every level – in format, look, feel and content – to make sure it’s relevant and future-proof. We aim to personalise the show so that it represents the genuine concept of the coming together of all people,’ she explained.

Hutton added that come 2015, INDABA will have moved away from the idea that the bigger and more opulent one’s stand is, the more important and valuable it is.

‘We are now single-minded about configuring a highly efficient trading environment. We are moving much more in the direction of travel trade show global best practice to ensure that the value is around quality of engagement and quality of buyers and exhibitors, and that the right criteria are in place for participation at INDABA. The focus is much more on business facilitation and the quality of the deals and business connections that are made during INDABA,’ she commented.

For example, there will be a Hosted Buyers' Village that will facilitate greater engagement between buyers and exhibitors in a high-frequency format.

Facilitating opportunities

SAT will also be facilitating opportunities for exhibitors to find out more about some of the world’s best travel trade buyers that want to build new relationships with product from Africa.

SAT is inviting 400 to 600 hosted buyers to attend INDABA 2014. For the first time, SAT will be packaging pre- and post-INDABA tours. SAT has identified the seven most-in-demand experiences, and tours have been created around these – both in the host city and further afield, ensuring delegates can be treated to exclusive INDABA experiences, submersing themselves in the attributes of our destination brand that make it most unique.

New matchmaking software is also being introduced for INDABA, ensuring the most appropriate meetings for buyers and exhibitors, making optimal use of their time. SAT is currently investigating two final products and believes that this new, upgraded, more intelligent software will be responsibly implemented by 2015.

SAT is currently including three well-considered, but distinctly different, engagement zones in the Hosted Buyers' Village.

From 4 pm to 6pm daily, the BuyerConnect area will give exhibitors an additional opportunity to meet buyers informally, with no pre-scheduled meetings required. This area is not about deal-making, but rather about introductions and the brief sharing of information and contact details. It allows all exhibitors access to all hosted buyers in a high-tempo structure.

The Premium Lounge area is the ultimate deal-making zone, catering for 150 premium exhibitors, with dedicated space for each to hold 42 20-minute back-to-back meetings with hosted buyers over the three-day show. The number of exhibitors facilitated in this zone is expected to increase significantly by 2015.

The Buyer Cocoons offers a much-needed African coffee bar area, a private space where buyers will have access to a dedicated, sophisticated buyer environment offering high-speed internet to further facilitate business. Here buyers and exhibitors can hold meetings when they have gaps in their schedules. There will also be hosts on hand as a buyer concierge service to facilitate meetings between buyers and exhibitors where the buyer or exhibitor has not yet been able to schedule a meeting.

The Exhibitor Zone will give exhibitors access to the latest travel technologies, insights and trends. It will have an amphitheatre that will be the centre for all information sharing at INDABA 2014. It’s where key speakers will share industry trends and ideas on how to move the industry forward in Africa.

The amphitheatre will also be the venue for the popular speed-marketing sessions. The three speed-marketing sessions at INDABA 2014 will focus on adventure, urban vibe and Hidden Treasure products.

The Exhibitor Zone will also have a refreshments bar where exhibitors can network and host private functions. A travel technology zone will showcase technologies that are relevant to the travel industry, from vital booking platforms to virtual tours.

Exhibitors will have the opportunity to engage with SAT’s travel technology partners and their products, and discover how these can be integrated into their businesses to assist with the marketing and selling of their products in a digital world.

Delegates will also be able to upload their contact information at the INDABAConnect vending machines, taking INDABAConnect’s Poken solution to the next level of adding real-world value post the three-day show.

SAT will once again be partnering with iAmbassors to host some of the world’s top bloggers as they experience South Africa and attend INDABA 2014. Last year’s inaugural travel bloggers' event, which integrated into SAT’s #MeetSouthAfrica campaign platform, proved highly successful in its marketing reach, with the #MeetSouthAfrica bloggers reaching more than 60-million people around the world. The #INDABA 2013 hashtag reached more than 31-million people, massively increasing awareness of South Africa as a tourist destination.

Come 2015, SAT is also planning radical changes to the format in the Durban Exhibition Centre (DEC) – traditionally the home of provinces at INDABA – to ensure it becomes a hive of activity. Hutton says the idea is to make the DEC less geo-political in terms of exhibitors and layout, and segment it into buyer-relevant experiential zones – for example Safari, Adventure, Heritage and Culture – that showcase the provinces better than ever.

The dates, venues and times of the next SATSA/SAT roadshows are as follows:

Durban: 25 November 2014, Oyster Box Hotel, 4pm to 6pm

Cape Town: 26 November, The Westin Cape Town, 3pm to 5.30pm

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