South Africa-based Thebe Exhibitions and Projects concluded a partnership deal with global player Reed Exhibitions in 2013. The resulting entity was Thebe Reed Exhibitions, which offers a wide range of event management solutions, including trade and consumer exhibitions, conferences and meetings, from conception through to delivery. The group has an extensive portfolio of events, with Managing Director Carol Weaving focusing on one of its major travel properties – WTM Africa – in this chat with Business Traveller Africa.
Q: How would you describe Thebe Reed Exhibitions?
A: Thebe Reed Exhibitions is a global company with an African focus – global but local. We are committed to making a difference to economies on this continent as well as showcase the best in business that Africa has to offer.
Q: Where does World Travel Market (WTM) Africa sit in the Thebe Reed portfolio?
A: WTM Africa is the only business-to-business travel trade show in the company.
Q: What differentiates WTM Africa from the other existing travel trade shows in South Africa?1
A: Our points of difference are clear. We cater both to the inbound and outbound sectors of travel and tourism. Although the location is right at the southern tip of Africa, in Cape Town, WTM Africa is just that, a show for Africa. Through the WTM portfolio we have access to an extremely large bank of buyers from across the globe and our policy has always been to bring new, quality buyers to our exhibitors. We have no self-serving agenda or political affiliation, we just mean business.
Q: Explain why it is so important to have the right buyers for shows like WTM Africa?
A: Companies and organisations are exposed to so many platforms through which to market their products and services. Matching our exhibitor clients with the right fit of buyer cuts through the clutter and ensures a profitable and worthwhile experience where actual business gets done and no one’s time is wasted.
Q: Besides the issue of the buyers, what else do you have to get right to provide value to exhibitors and attendees?
A: WTM Africa offers a plethora of experiences for all travel professionals whether exhibiting or visiting. It is an all-encompassing event where professionals in our industry can interact with each other over three days, all under one roof. Our WTM Africa events programme provides a reason to visit all on its own. The three days are packed with key and relevant seminars and presentations, by sought-after speakers, on topics that are of relevance to our industry currently.
Q: How are you using technology to enhance the WTM Africa offering?
A: Our digital portals offer an interactive, communication space for exhibitors, buyers and visitors. The website, mobile app and social media provide information to our visitors as well as a portal for our exhibitors to market themselves. The eBadging system allows for quick access to visitors that pre-register for WTM Africa. Our exhibitor portal is a communications system that feeds updates and vital briefing information to our exhibitors.
Q: What sort of response have you received from the rest of Africa, with regards both exhibitors and attendees?
A: We are growing in terms of African exhibitors and associations that have registered for the show so far. In 2015, there was $333 million of new business generated and our visitors grew by 18% between 2014 and 2015.
Q: Why is Cape Town a good fit for WTM Africa?
A: We enjoy a sound relationship with the City of Cape Town, and the Cape Town International Convention Centre, our chosen venue. The infrastructure is a perfect fit and our goals and aspirations for future growth are aligned. As a major city in Africa for business and leisure travel, and a strong example of Africa’s ability to provide world class venues and experiences, Cape Town makes sense.
Q: What can exhibitors and attendees expect from WTM Africa 2016?
A: 2016, our third edition of WTM Africa, has already exceeded our expectations in terms of growth. All involved can expect more exhibitors and more visitors. This year sees the introduction of the travel tech region where visitors learn about the very latest in travel technology. The Responsible Tourism awards will also be taking place at WTM Africa. Our events programme has so much to offer and our networking opportunities are second to none. If you are in the business of travel and tourism, make it your business to be in Cape Town on 6, 7 and 8 April.
A: Beyond 2016, what does the future of WTM Africa look like?
A: We are constantly looking for new and refreshing ways to bring the very best in exhibition experiences to our customers, so rest assured WTM Africa is here to stay and will continue to deliver relevant content to the travel and tourism industry in Africa.