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How to stay ahead in conference, events industry

Apr 20 2017 13:24
Carin Smith

Cape Town - The scales have tipped on climate change action and the pressure is on cities and countries to make events greener, according to Rashid Toefy, managing director of MCI.

"Smart cities use innovative information and technology. Therefore, if we do not create 'smarter' events people won't be interested in coming here," he said at the IBTM Africa Forum in Cape Town on Thursday. It formed part of the World Travel Market (WTM) Africa taking place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) this week.

"There is also pressure from brands and consumers in this regard. We must take the global and societal trends that drive events into account."

The use of technology is one of the big trends in the sector for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions/events, or Meetings (MICE).

"Face-to-face and social media are not mutually exclusive. The next big thing on social media is video and live streaming," said Toefy.

"If these tech trends are not used in MICE you will be left behind. These days people can film an event on their cell phones. So, for the conference industry WiFi is very important. Spend money on better bandwidth for your event."

READ: SME challenges to enter tourism not insurmountable

Data analytics

Data analytics is another important trend in the MICE industry at the moment.

"A wide assortment of online event systems have emerged to manage registration, exhibits, housing, room blocks, membership, event websites and budgeting. There is just so much data on customers," said Toefy.

The same goes for engagement tools - the other big trend.

"These must be worked into events in a big way and will transform the impact and power of face-to-face meetings in very sustainable ways," said Toefy.

Gamification is one tool to employ and others include wearable beacons, smart badges, match making and networking tools.

Meeting architecture

Another trend is so-called meeting architecture, which relates to the layout and planning of an event. For instance, the speaker does not always just have to be in front of a room.

Meeting architecture also relates to light, sound, smell, colours used, food and the type of interaction and the exhibition space. It is about the event design - how the event is configured.

According to Toefy, the use of multiplex rooms is an example. All participants are then linked via the internet.

A last trend he mentioned is content capture.

"Co-create, produce, stage, record and re-use what you present at your event. The technology is not that expensive and you can even share it on a pay per view basis if you want," said Toefy.

"We have to think and act in radically different ways. Ultimately people still want to do the right thing. They want a return on impact of them coming to an event." 


According to Andrew Shelton, managing director of, one of the travel trends that’s coming through strongly in 2017 at WTM Africa is the growing use of mobile devices to research, book and document travel experiences, especially for business travel.

"Mobile technology has forever changed the face of travel planning and search and as travel to Africa increases (as predicted) over the next few years, we have found that an increasing volume of our demand comes from mobile. As a channel it now accounts for around 60% of our total traffic, and drives 40% of our revenue," says Shelton.
"This has fundamentally changed the way that we now search for travel, and will continue to do so. Expect text alerts for fare sales and price drops - or getting prices from a voice-based internet device or through Facebook Messenger as more and more people opt to plan their trips via their mobile devices.”  

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events  |  travel and leisure



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