Angus Morton (MD of Africa Massive) interviewed by Sya Potgieter from DigiPro PR –
With South Africa emerging from the second wave of Covid-19, it is safe to say that the virus, more than any other issue, including rolling blackouts and crime, have endangered South Africa’s conference, event and tourism sector. This industry is one of the key drivers of the country’s economy when it comes to job creation, however, it has been plunged into survival mode for the most part of 2020 and the beginning of 2021.
South Africa’s meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions industry is an important sector to attract foreign visitors and investment. In 2019 alone, 11.4% of all tourists visiting our shores can be attributed to this industry, hosting about one million delegates per year. Angus Morton, Managing Director of africaMassive, a leading local tourism and events company, says South Africa ranks among the top destinations in the world.
“South Africa is the ideal travel and eventing destination. The country offers the whole package which includes quality infrastructure, passionate hospitality, and an extremely competitive price. Despite being at the tip of Africa and quite a long way from Europe, Asia and the USA, the cost of hosting a conference or exhibition in South Africa is almost unbeatable. The International Congress and Convention Association has rated our country highly,” he says.
With the country shutting its borders for most of 2020, many tourism and events companies were adversely affected. Morton says their challenges were enormous and ranged from the complete international market collapse due to global travel bans, increased regulatory burdens, corporate conservatism, and risk mitigation leading to drastically reduced MICE (meetings, incentive travel, conferencing, and events) budgets or complete cancellation.
“This all pales in comparison to the personal cost of the virus on us all as employees, stakeholders, partners, friends, and family, which cannot be separated from a well-functioning, healthy organization. However, we managed to weather the storm without having to cut any jobs and salaries. It was however to keep head above water and stay focused,” he says.
Morton says the challenges and opportunities created by the new status quo was, however, a blessing in disguise in particularly the academic conferencing sector.
“The new normal has taught us to think outside the box and find new opportunities in otherwise unchartered territory. We basically flipped the plane on its side and sailed into the wind! You see, mankind sailed across the earth’s oceans with square sails for thousands of years, subject to the whim and folly of the wind. It wasn’t until we produced the innovative wing-shaped sails that we were able to sail into the wind instead of with it. The same understanding of aerodynamics that enables a plane to fly, made it possible to sail into the wind. We innovated,” Morton explains.
Morton says at first their new approach was met with some skepticism, but clients soon adapting to the new modus operandi.
“At the onset, the predominant feeling among existing clients was uncertainty, so we set out to mitigate this risk as quickly as possible by amongst others, switching to hybrid conferencing solutions and familiarizing our clients with the related technology. This gave them the assurance that even if in-person conferencing restrictions in the relevant area of the world made it impossible to gather, the event would live on in a virtual form. We also took advantage of the shift towards digitalization and partnered with the world-leading online platforms like Whova, a leading events app and Zoom, a leading virtual-conferencing platform, which enabled us, our partners, and clients, to reach attendees who were neglected before due to lack of funding or other logistical reasons.”
Morton says having adapted, they are now able to thrive and are looking forward to some highlights this coming year.
“We are keeping busy, but I’d have to say I’m most excited about the following three conferences – The 2nd International Pangolin Conference, the 15th International Conference on Heat Transfer, Fluid Mechanics & Thermodynamics and the 2nd African Conference for Linear Infrastructure and Ecology. We stopped chasing the big pay checks some years back and instead love to work on projects that are truly making a difference in the world.”
Morton also shared his top 5 tips for eventing, conferencing and tourism companies to succeed:
- Dream – You cannot execute something you haven’t conceived of.
- Innovate – Thomas Edison said that the value of an idea lies in the using of it.
- Grow – Get out of your comfort zone and take chances, you need to reinvent yourself.
- Collaborate – There is no need for us to compete, let’s work together.
- Do – Less talking and more walking, get it done!
Stop Dreaming. Start Doing. We are ready to assist you!
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