SAACI Matters – May 2019

SAACI Matters – May 2019

Have you
‘switched on’ for the SAACI congress?

SAACI’s 2019 annual congress – themed ‘Switched On’ – will be held at the Southern Sun Hotel Elangeni in Durban from 28 to 30 July.

SAACI Chaiperson Wayne Smith says a number of incredible speakers for the congress have already been confirmed.

“We look forward to a balance between international and local African speakers. This will ensure that we cover all functional areas within the business events industry and give our members the tools to operate efficiently in 2019 and beyond.”

Eric Szymanski of Leadership Solutions International

Speakers already confirmed include Eric Szymanski, Sales & Marketing Expert, Leadership Solutions International, USA on ‘How to Create Authentic, World-Class Customer Experiences’, Holly Duckworth of Leadership Solutions International on ‘High Performance Teams – How to create, measure and manage them’, and Miller Matola, CEO of Millvest SA on ‘Business Transformation in Africa.’

The SAACI Annual General Meeting and gala dinner will be held on Monday, 29 July.

The congress is open to anyone with an interest in the business events industry – including venue owners and managers, organisers, corporate marketing and event professionals, event planners, public relations practitioners and suppliers of products and services. Young professionals and new entrants into the industry are encouraged to register for insightful learning experiences and networking opportunities.

For more information or to register visit

Download the Sponsorship and Exhibitor Prospectus

Enter the Business Travel Online Expo now

Now in its second year, the SA Business Travel Show is an online expo, bringing together travel management companies, PCOs and corporate travel buyers with travel suppliers such as hotels and airlines.

“The show is scheduled for Thursday, 30 May from 09:00 to 15:00 and attendance is free,” says Natalie Cumberlege, Business Development Manager at Online Expos.

SAACI members should register now at

“The show is run entirely online, with delegates watching and interacting with industry experts in the online auditorium. They also visit virtual stands where they chat with exhibitors and can download documents and watch marketing videos,” says Natalie.

But how do online events differ from traditional events?

“I find that the shows offer a lot of efficiency for delegates to meet with exhibitors. They are able to speak to a large number of exhibitors in a short space of time. For both the delegate and the exhibitor there is a saving in time and costs – the big ones being travel and stand costs. Both attend from their desk. For delegates, this opens up wonderful geographic reach.”

She says logistical challenges in stand design and set-up are greatly simplified.

“Exhibitors can focus on the content presentation. Event organisers can access global speakers more easily and cost effectively – allowing us to ensure the content is really good for the audience.

Our times for the event can focus on when it makes the most sense for the delegates. Normally online shows can be shorter and more focused – more can be done in a shorter period.”

Natalie says another big difference is the stickiness of the audience.

“With traditional shows you get better commitment from the delegates earlier on, because they need to make travel arrangements and block off time. With an online show, it’s easy come, easy go. So delegates don’t need to commit until the day of the event, and time allocated to the event can be interrupted easily.

“It is often said that online shows drop the face-to-face contact that many people enjoy. We have found that this is a very good way to make contact with people, delaying the face-to-face contact to a post-show meeting where needed. It still happens, but in a different setting. However the networking power to establish contacts is very exciting.

“A big advantage is that with an online expo there is no place to hide when it comes to the audience. They register and get tracked only when they log in to the event. We see this as a benefit to exhibitors, who can use this to help determine their return on investment. Having been in the traditional expo industry, online expos have been an exciting move for me, with a lot of learning,” says Natalie.

SAACI members are welcome to contact Natalie on to run online shows.

The importance of a professional Master of Ceremonies

Marcel Oudejans

Your conference’s Master of Ceremonies (MC) is the important conduit between the conference organiser and the delegate.

Conference organisers look to the MC as the ‘leader’ of the event. Much like the conductor of an orchestra, your MC needs to maintain energy and flow between each part of the programme to create a harmonious, compelling and satisfying experience for the delegate.

The ideal MC has a combination of skills that strikes the delicate balance between the formal, structured requirements such as timekeeping, introductions and protocols of the conference and the informal requirements, such as energy levels and activities. Combined, these attributes maintain an atmosphere conducive to learning and networking.

To achieve this, you need an MC who displays the confidence and authority to deliver important announcements, to pique the delegates’ interest, to focus attention when introducing speakers and to clearly communicate instructions about upcoming activities.

As the on-stage representative of the organising committee, the delegates will perceive the MC’s announcements and activities as being part of the organisers’ vision. It is thus vital to work with a professional who understands the goals of the event and the responsibilities of this role.

Your MC has three primary responsibilities – to inform, to motivate and to entertain your delegates. By providing clear information, your delegates will feel more relaxed because they’ll know exactly what is going on during your event. When motivated, your delegates will feel enthusiastic and energised to learn and connect. By adding elements of fun and interactivity, your MC will ensure that your delegates have an enjoyable and memorable experience.

If everything goes to plan, the ideal MC will know how to keep the focus on the speakers and proceedings without being overbearing. However, when things don’t go to plan and problems arise, your MC must have the flexibility to step in and maintain the energy with appropriate announcements, entertainment and ‘back-up activities’ while any problems are being resolved.

When you take all these factors into consideration, it becomes clear that securing a confident, dynamic and skilled professional MC is fundamental to the success of your conference. Given this importance, selecting the ideal candidate should be carefully considered and budgeted for during the early stages of planning your conference.

Marcel Oudejans is a corporate magician and speaker, and the Executive Producer of Magic Africa Productions. He combines his experience in his conference offering, ‘The Complete Conference MC’.

Contact him on, or +27 83 229 9550.

Lights, music, action – it’s ballet time!

Backstage at the Artscape Theatre, nerves running high, excitement mounting, pointe shoes being tied and tried. Beautiful ballerinas stretching and warming up while whispering a few last minute thoughts and reminders to their pantsula colleagues.
Magic is about to happen at the gala event of the 6th South African International Ballet Competition.

Dancers from 15 different countries have heard about this new ballet to be performed by Mzansi Ballet, a ballet and dance company founded by Dirk Badenhorst, also the CEO of the SA International Ballet Competition. This is the first time that classical ballet and pantsula dance will be mixed, explored and honoured in a world premiere.

The unthinkable mix of ballet and pantsula brings the ballet audience to their feet for a standing ovation, cheering and whistling. A true triumph for the director, choreographer and dancers who believed in the concept being nation building through theatre and the arts. It is a celebration of the unique dance styles of South Africa with the history of classical ballet. 

In so doing it is providing the audience and delegates with an immersive cultural experience, celebrating the diversity of South Africa through cultural entertainment. This show is setting the example to many of the young dancers of the programmes of Mzansi Ballet and the South African International Ballet Competition in Soweto, Orange Farm, Reigers Park and other schools.

The production then travels to the Legend Golf and Safari Lodge, to be performed to create awareness around rhino conservation, showing the true flexibility offered by this innovative form of event entertainment.

The versatility of the company and its dancers 

allowing for shows and performances to be developed on the field at FNB soccer stadium with Yvonne Chaka Chaka,to dancing with aeroplanes flying overhead at an air show and even a soccer ballet for the Vodacom CEO awards during the 2010 world cup.

I believe that the dancers can be challenged to dance in most conditions, with new music and at the request of any event planner or host to create truly custom performances tailored specifically to an event, theme or objective. When and where will Mzansi Ballet be creating one of these unique, immersive, entertainment experiences for your delegates?

Calendar of Events

Africa’s Travel Indaba

2 -4 May 2019
Durban International Convention Centre

Business Tourism and MICE Masterclass

10 – 12 June 2019
BDO Offices, Wanderers Office Park, JHB

ICCA Association Meetings Programme

18 – 20 June 2019
Durban International Convention Centre

Eastern Cape leadership summit

13 June 2019
Venue TBC

Africa Tourism Leadership Forum

28 – 29 August 2019
Durban International Convention Centre

SAACI Events


15 May 2019
Venue TBC

Johannesburg Networking Event

11 or 12 June 2019
Venue and Date TBC

SAACI Annual Congress

28 – 30 July 2019

Southern Sun Hotel Elangeni
Durban, KwaZulu-Natal