South Africa is
gearing up to host no less than six trade shows in April and May this year,
leaving travel agents who sell the continent scratching their heads, wondering which
event to attend.
The trade show
marathon kicks off on April 4 in Cape Town with Africa Travel Week. This event
runs until April 8 and comprises
three co-located shows: WTM Africa, IBTM Africa and ILTM Africa.
Less than a week after Africa Travel Week wraps up, Cape Town will welcome
the 33rd annual Global Convention of the International Gay & Lesbian Travel
Association (IGLTA) from April 14 to 16.
Just two weeks after that, We Are Africa opens its doors in Cape Town
and will run from May 2 to 5 and will focus on high-end
travel brands. Finally, South Africa’s Tourism Indaba will be held in Durban
from May 7 to 9. The show offers networking opportunities for industry players
from across the continent as well as international buyers.
With so many
trade shows on the calendar, it can be hard for travel agents and buyers to
decide which to attend. “We try and attend as many trade shows as we can, either as exhibitors or
buyers, but this year it is particularly busy,” said Melissa
for Micato Safaris.
that while these trade shows are
all valuable shows in their own way, it might be more effective if they could
be spaced out over the year. “That way there is less of a ‘crunch’ in the U.S.
spring,” she said.
That idea was echoed by Dave
Herbert,chief experiential officer at Great Safaris. He explained
that he would much rather see the trade shows spread out during the year in
order to be able to participate in more than one.
Others however have indicated they would like to see less trade shows in
South Africa. Diane Lobel ofAfrican
Portfolio said: “I would reduce the number of shows and streamline the time,
effort and resources to improve the quality and relevance of one show.”
Marcia Gordon, president and co-founder of Extraordinary
Journeys, said her company puts a huge premium on having its staff go to Africa
and experience as many properties firsthand as possible.
“We feel the trade shows bring
value to us in several ways,” Gordon said. “In addition to the obvious
opportunities to learn about new product, meet new owners and operators, renew
friendships with those we’ve long worked with, hear about their missions and
goals and explain ours and strategize about ways to help each other, we also
enjoy networking amongst our competitors, which can be a valuable way to learn
about trends in the industry and ways that others are dealing with some of the
challenges we face.”
However, Gordon said that although all
the trade shows are relevant, the number of trade shows in Africa is really
hurting the participating companies. She said: “Each show is very expensive for
the suppliers and the value is really diluted. I would like to see one show for
the whole market and one for the more exclusive market.”
For Craig Smith, managing
director of New Frontiers, the number and timing of the trade shows isn’t a
problem. He explained that if the trade shows compete directly with each other
in content and format, then the space is currently too crowded. However, if
they are able to differentiate themselves and offer a different angle, then
they actually complement each other, and placing them close together time-wise enables
buyers to combine multiple trade shows and benefit to the maximum.
Also Serge Dive,CEO and
Founder of We Are Africa, explains that Indaba and We Are Africa, which run
successively over eight days in early May, are two shows that perfectly complement
each other. Indaba focuses on the entire travel market for Africa, whereas We
Are Africa only zeroes in on the luxury travel market. “The shows are perfectly
aligned, and form a good combination for travel buyers across the world,” Dive
Meanwhile, Carol Weaving, managing
director of Thebe Reed Exhibitions, said that as organizers of Africa Travel
Week, Thebe Reed realized the
importance of bringing all segments of the travel industry together under the
same roof at the same time with networking opportunities for both exhibitors
and buyers in order to maximize their participation at the event.
She explained that the show is also governed
to some extent by the availability of dates at the Cape Town International
Convention Center. Weaving added: “Most importantly, the industry has indicated
that April is a preferable time for contracting at the show.”
Neither Weaving nor Dive said they are
considering changing the dates of the shows. Said Weaving: “This is the third
year that Thebe Reed Exhibitions will be showcasing our events in Cape Town,
and early April works well for the show.”
Dive added: “These shows have been running on
the same dates for three consecutive years and remain successful. This might be
an indication that it’s not as big a problem as one might think.”