The African Association for Exhibition Organisers was able to celebrate Global Exhibitions Day in person this year. Around 80 Exhibition Industry Organisers and select media gathered at the Gallagher Grill in Midrand to celebrate the undeniable value of exhibitions in accelerating the pace of economic recovery. Exhibitions create platforms for networking, business exchange and connection and there are finally strong signs of industry recovery in South Africa, with many exhibitions already up and running, and even more in the planning stages.
On 1st June 2022, AAXO joined forces with SA Convention Bureau and Specialised Exhibitions to deliver a demonstrative and informative networking event to observe the 7th iteration of Global Exhibitions Day. For some, AAXO’s Face-to-Face GED 2022 was one of the first opportunities to reconnect with colleagues outside of Zoom meetings, and to attend exhibitions in person once more.
The morning was MC’d by Uveka Rangappa, whose delicious sense of fun kept the mood light despite the serious issues facing the industry as it embarks on the road to recovery. Festivities kicked off with the announcement of the newly elected AAXO Board by outgoing Chair Projeni Pather who welcomed new Chair Devi Paulsen-Abbott, Vice-Chair Tiisetso Tau, and the rest of the Board, before crossing to a live-stream connection with Honourable Deputy Minister of Tourism, Fish Mahlalela, and Chief Convention Bureau Officer, Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo, who took a few minutes to join the get-together from the floor of IMEX, Frankfurt 2022.
The morning then quickly got down to business with the SANCB Welcome by GM MIC Sales, Bjorn Hufkie and an insightful panel discussion entitled Building Back Together, moderated by Projeni Pather. This interesting slot included panellists Zinhle Nzama (Strategic Events, SA Tourism), Warren Murray (Exposure Marketing), Sean Osterloh (DMG Events) and Charlene Hefer (Specialised Exhibitions), who discussed their experiences around how exhibitions have evolved to meet stakeholder expectations in the new economy and how to incorporate these learnings going forward.
The Art of Exhibiting slot unpacked the real value of the exhibition platform as Dalain Roets (Karongwe Furniture), Neo Sehume (Gauteng Provincial Government), John Owens (DLT Media), Dr Romy Levy (SoPure Labs), Thuli Mahlangu (Zing Design) and Projeni Pather gave examples of the capability of face-to-face engagement to “seal the deal.” Audience questions also focused the discussion around the importance of incorporating the youth through awareness and training programmes to take the industry to the next level.
Specialised Exhibitions conducted VIP tours of their five exhibitions, running concurrently at Gallagher on the 1st June 2022. Attendees experienced the power of exhibition engagement first-hand as they visited FrigAir (Heating, Energy, Ventilation, Air Conditioning & Refrigeration), Securex (future-proofing the physical and cybersecurity needs of businesses), A-OSH (health and safety sector), Facilities Management (FM and the built environment) and Fire Expo (fire and related industries) – an ideal opportunity to highlight the benefits of face-to-face engagement across different sectors in an immersive context, before attendees settled into an eagerly awaited networking lunch
GED 2022 celebrates the role of exhibitions in accelerating the pace of economic recovery, and the AAXO community is eager to realign their expectations and forge ahead together.