BT 2018 Awards Winner: Sandton convention centre


“If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.” Peter F. Drucker

Doing things differently was the hallmark of Sandton Convention Centre’s 2018 – and it’s paying excellent dividends.

Shaun Bird, GM of SCC, explains: “We recognised a deep-set need for fresh new thinking to permeate our business, disruptive thinking that would ensure we retain our position as a market leader and add value and delight to our clients’ experiences. We revisited many of our processes and approaches and found innovative ways of doing things that have brought refreshing change in many of our departments.”

Improved engagement with government and city authorities, such as local and provincial tourism associations, roads departments, SAPS, and others, has had a significant impact on Sandton Convention Centre’s capacity to offer creative solutions to client events.

“We have become far more proactive in our dealings with authorities and stakeholders,” says Bird. “Whereas previously we would develop a plan for an event, send it for approval and then have to go through several changes before it was accepted, we are now working with clients at inquiry stage, engaging with city role players and getting ideas and suggestions from them as to how we can ensure innovative solutions for our clients. We don’t have the luxury of open spaces here that other venues have, so we need to be creative in how we use our space – and working closely with the relevant authorities is working very well.”

2018 also saw an increase in government and ‘confex’ business at Sandton Convention Centre, including the 10th annual BRICS Summit and the Presidential Investment Summit. Bird says the successful delivery of these and other key signature events involved intense preparation to ensure that all the elements came together at the right time.

“Operations-wise, we have gone back to basics, streamlining our processes and systems and ensuring an improved customer-centric approach to all our events. We have a dedicated operational manager for each event, and they are hands-on and fully customer-focused as soon as the client is in the building. It’s working – and we will continue to be extremely structured, keeping a keen eye open for any areas where we may be lacking and improving on them.”

Another SCC coup in 2018 was the third Arnold Classic Sport Festival, which was a triumph in logistics, detailed planning, and excellent delivery, and featured over 70 sporting codes.

“For the Arnold, every space venue was used effectively to accommodate the over 15,000 participating athletes, the over 62,000 visitors and spectators, and the exhibition with 250 exhibitors,” says Bird.

A growing trend identified by SCC, which is being monitored and managed, is value adding in the confex sector.

“Our confex clients have focused on adding value with strong educational and informational content relevant to their specific industry, which went a long way to attracting bigger numbers to the events. We took note and we’re pulling out the stops to ensure successful growth in this trend,” Bird says.

Sandton Convention Centre has long been renowned for its world-class food offering, which is now moving up to an even higher level.

“Restaurant-style and quality fine dining tends to be unexpected in a convention centre, but we are giving our chefs the opportunity to shine with highly creative menus for small to big groups, and a variety of different modes of food delivery that include live cooking, street food stalls, lunch boxes, fine-dining meals, and more, customised to suit each client’s needs,” says Bird.

Bird adds that Sandton Convention Centre is honoured to be the recipient of the 2018 Business Traveller Africa Best Large Conference Venue Award.

“Delivering a first-rate service as a leading multi-purpose venue in South Africa is at the heart of what we do – every day. We will continue to stay focused on being the best.” ■


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