Selecting the right venue for a conference, an event, or an exhibition is important for building, maintaining and protecting the image and brand of the host organisation, writes Nicole Turner.
“The venue says something about how organisations view themselves – and how they want to be viewed by their audiences, whether the event is for their own staff or for other stakeholders. If for instance, a company is launching a new product or service that is aimed at the high profile market, the launch venue must compliment the message the organisation intends to convey,” says Dr Mati Nyazema, Executive Director of the Sandton Convention Centre (SCC).
She suggests that while the venue in itself and the facilities, services, and level of customer service it offers are vitally important to the decision-making process, what must also be taken into account is the location of the venue. For instance, what does the area surrounding the venue offer? Located in the heart of the business hub of South Africa, with a vast array of shopping malls, restaurants, entertainment, parking, and accommodation within easy walking distance, the SCC tends to be an ideal venue for many major events.
A recent new development for the SCC was the phenomenally successful Days of the Dinosaur lifestyle exhibition which attracted over 185 000 visitors over four weeks and offered them an experience “more exciting and moving than visiting a museum”. Contributing significantly to its success, says Nyazema, was the fact that the SCC is in such a family-friendly location, where families could make a day of the outing, taking the Gautrain to Sandton and then exploring the malls and local entertainment offerings after visiting the exhibition. “We were also aware that for the parents of the many thousands of school children who came by bus to visit the exhibition, the SCC was considered a safe and secure environment for the children.”
Nyazema adds that the most telling factor for her regarding the success of this exhibition was the fact that the organisers had booked the venue for the next five years before the Days of the Dinosaur was over at SCC.
An event that in September this year moved to Sandton Convention Centre because of its changing profile over the years is the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz Festival, which has outgrown its venue in Newtown.
“Moving the venue has saved the festival about three weeks of set up and preparation time, which has seen a significant cost saving for the organisers. This is a case of an event that has matured beyond its present venue and a move has enabled a wider array of musical shows to be offered – while also providing easier access to guests from the northern suburbs of Johannesburg.”
At the other extreme was the recent hosting at Sandton Convention Centre of the new business-to-business Southern African Funeral Expo in August. The SCC – with its location in South Africa’s business centre and its wide range of facilities and services both at the venue and beyond it – proved to be an ideal venue and the expo was a big success.
Nyazema adds that with the growing number of international events held in South Africa, it has become important to ‘sell’ the destination with all its facilities and services together with the venue.
“Johannesburg as a burgeoning and easily accessible world-class city and Sandton as its vibrant business hub are proving to be appealing for international event hosts. We are finding a wider range of events, conferences, and expos are trusting the Sandton Convention Centre with their brands – and we are always prepared to prove to them that they made the right choice,” she says.
For more information on Sandton Convention Centre, log on to www.saconvention.co.za, join the Facebook page or follow on Twitter at @SandtonEvents.