It’s good to be back! Musings from this week’s Meetings Africa and beyond

It’s good to be back. That was my overarching thought during this past week’s Meetings Africa – the first time in a long time we were able to interact face-to-face as an industry and the start of the trade show season.

We were delighted with the quality of buyers, although I will admit that there weren’t many. I look forward to upcoming shows where we’ll be able to connect more with our industry colleagues both near and far. May 2022’s events season be a productive one for all of us building on the Meetings Africa theme of ‘Shared Minds, Shared Economies’. 

On the point of ‘sharing’, some of the lessons learnt during the event were that 2023 is going to be our year for MICE to return in earnest.

Yes, groups may be smaller but I’m encouraged to see that large pharma incentive tours are on the rise and specialist meetings have booked to come to South Africa. I’m particularly encouraged that there’s interest in local MICE destinations that are not traditionally on the radar of inbound international.

Our BON Hotels portfolio in South Africa includes properties in the less-frequented areas of Rustenburg, Bloemfontein and even St. Lucia in KwaZulu Natal, where we recently opened two BON Hotels properties.  

However, whether your delegates are headed to Bloem or Richard’s Bay, what is true is that MICE business will bounce back and our resilient industry will be ready to welcome delegates. That much was clear during this week’s Meetings Africa.  

After two years of not having the opportunity to engage with industry colleagues, it filled me with joy to reconnect with old friends – some looking a little more brow-beaten than others, but reconnect we did. 

And that enough is cause for me to feel truly heartened by and positive about the coming year as we emerge from two years of business unusual. 

So, hats off to my industry friends and colleagues who have weathered the storm. May we reap the rewards of the 20 bids already won by South Africa’s National Convention Bureau, bringing over 8,700 international and regional delegates to South Africa between 2022 and 2027.

But more than this, may we work together to secure and convert even more business events in South Africa.  It’s time to get back to travel.

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