Fat and Flourishing

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After a difficult year or two, the African MICE industry picked up again in 2012 and forecasts are positive for the remainder of 2013. So, what has changed, besides the obvious, and what are the issues facing those with a vested interest in Africa’s MICE market? Richard Holmes canvassed a large group of industry professionals, covering MICE experts, hotels and hotel groups, airlines, air charter companies and conference venues, and came away with some interesting insight.

There’s nothing quite like a face-to-face meeting. Yes, Skype and video-conferencing can take care of the day-to-day executive catch-ups and the occasional strategy chat, but despite technological advancements, the desire for colleagues, competitors and customers to connect with a handshake and personal interaction around a table remains a crucial pillar of doing business in Africa. And as economies begin to shake off the torpor of the past five years, incentivizing staff and connecting with customers at corporate events is becoming increasingly important.  

So it’s hardly surprising that the Meetings, Incentive, Conference and Events (MICE) industry is showing strong growth across the continent, as companies connect with suppliers, staff and clients from within Africa and abroad. “Africa has become a global player for MICE – or the more widely-used term today: ‘Business Events’ – in recent years,” says Adriaan Liebetrau, Conferencing Manager for Travel with Flair. “African countries’ rankings at the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) increase year-on-year, despite most sub-Saharan African countries being seen as long-haul destinations. With the recent opening of ICCA and Convention Industry Council offices in South Africa, it affirms the belief that Africa still has untapped potential and can still look forward to major growth in the sector.”

“There has been a definite increase in enquiries throughout Africa. Meetings are growing and there is a large potential for growth,” says Belinda Pedersen, Sales and Marketing Director for Event Dynamics, which is the Meetings and Events business unit of Tourvest Destination Management. “Meetings have become more strategic and more objective-driven, although companies continue to invest in meetings and events, thereby strengthening business relationships. Corporates also still use incentives as a key motivational and investment tool.”

With a “significant increase” in business since 2010, MICE travel is becoming increasingly important for South African group Premier Hotels and Resorts, adds Marketing Manager Eugene Oelofse: “We source a large amount of business from Uganda, Nigeria and other African countries. MICE clients are constantly looking for tailor-made packages, and more emphasis is being placed on the overall experience of the event.”

It seems that Oelofse is not alone in his thinking, although there are those who believe that the power still lies down south. “South Africa is becoming more and more popular as a MICE destination,” says Axel Simon, Director Southern Africa for Swiss International Air Lines and Lufthansa German Airlines, which offers bespoke flight booking products for organisers of large events. “It has suitable business hotels, transport connections and modern equipment.  The country can also offer unusual locations, and as a business location, South Africa also offers great value for money.”

Although South Africa, as the largest economy in Africa, continues to dominate the MICE industry on the continent, it is by no means the only player in the ‘Business Events’ corner. “The MICE segment is developing in most capital cities within Africa,” notes Andrew Hosking, Operations Director: Offshore for Tsogo Sun, a hotel group with business-focused properties in capitals from Nigeria to Mozambique. “Lusaka and Dar es Salaam have recently opened significant conference venues that can accommodate 1,500 delegates. This will stimulate larger meetings to be held in these cities and were built as part of the vision of their governments’ desire to position these cities as conference and meeting destinations.”

Further north, “Rwanda is thinking of marketing itself as a major MICE destination, and Nigeria is planning to upgrade its hotel infrastructure to grow its MICE market,” adds Robert Forsyth, Executive Chairman of the Recreation Africa group, which operates renowned conference venue, Misty Hills in the Johannesburg suburb of Muldersdrift, along with Kedar in Rustenburg in the north-west.

With East Africa increasingly flexing its economic muscle, Nairobi has also become a key destination for conferencing and exhibitions. The Kenyan capital is home to a host of multinationals, as well as the Kenyan parliament and the United Nations mission for East Africa. A number of non-governmental organisations are also headquartered here. “The MICE travel market in Kenya is large,” says Neelma Maru, Sales and Marketing Manager of Sankara Nairobi, an upmarket business hotel in the heart of the capital, who adds that clients consider “flexibility with rates, especially during period of low demand, and sound-proof rooms with modern technology” to be non-negotiable. And yet, while companies are reporting strong growth in demand for business events, it comes as a double-edged sword.

“In South Africa, conferences have increased, however the length of stay has decreased,” says Alida Canevari, Regional Sales Manager: Gauteng for the Three Cities hotel group. “Incentives have become shorter and the qualifications for incentives have changed dramatically due to the economic downturn.”

But not everyone believes it’s doom and gloom. “The MICE market is definitely growing in Southern Africa and Africa as a whole,” says Vicky Kente of Johannesburg’s Birchwood Hotel & O.R. Tambo Conference Centre and the Soweto Hotel. “There has been an increase in government expenditure in conferencing and meetings, but a decrease of budgets in the private sector. Our non-South African clients have been more extravagant, as they are prepared to pay for the facilities they want.”

“There is growing government business,” agrees Forsyth, who adds: “Most clients are working to tight budgets and they are shopping around.” It’s important to recognise that it’s not only the private sector that keeps the continent’s MICE industry ticking over. And equally, it’s not the only sector to have been hit by budget cuts in the past five years.

“A component of MICE has been meetings held for and by non-governmental organisations in Africa and this driver of conference demand has not recovered from the global economic crisis,” says Hosking. However, “incentive demand is coming back to leisure-oriented destinations such as Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and Livingstone in Zambia, and the United Nations World Tourism Organisation Summit will be held jointly by Zimbabwe and Zambia later in 2013.”

Yet, while demand remains strong, it’s by no means back to the good old days where budgets were large and money was no object. “The trend worldwide is for smaller budgets for conferencing, and we’re seeing smarter planning. Meetings used to stretch over four days, whereas now they’re taking a day or two,” says Peter Idoko, Cluster Director of Business Development: South Africa and Namibia for Hilton Worldwide. “We’re also seeing fewer delegates for meetings and although there is still a need for face-to-face meetings, a lot of companies are using technology to replace meetings.”

That comes back to the point made earlier. Interestingly though, when a face-to-face meeting is arranged, technology takes a backseat and video-conferencing is rarely used as a value-add to involve colleagues in offices across the continent. “When guests are here for a meeting, they’re here to meet,” says Idoko. “Although we are prepared for it, we find guests don’t mix tele-conferencing with meetings.”

It’s about making full use of the available opportunity, as “due to increasing pressure on budgets there has been a trend to reduce spend on big events,” says Pedersen from Event Dynamics. “There has also been an increase in local and regional meetings versus long-haul destination meetings. Clients are much more selective with candidates for trips, are focusing more on exclusive getaways, and there is a greater emphasis on return on investment.”

“In the past three years, there has been a definite shift to smaller group bookings  of 20 to 50 people, shorter periods – one or two-day conferences – and fewer bookings that require a venue with accommodation,” says Liebetrau. “However, the frequency of booking has also increased dramatically, which in turn has had a positive influence on the industry at large.”

Despite smaller budgets, fewer delegates and shorter events, companies want to obtain the same results and outcomes from their events, and companies are increasingly asking ‘why’ money should be spent on MICE. But there are myriad reasons why spending on MICE as 2013 gathers steam is a good idea, say industry experts.

For instance, “sales conferences have been increased due to companies trying to stimulate demand, which will ultimately increase revenue,” notes Canevari from Three Cities. Worldwide, plenty of business is done outside of the boardroom and Africa is no different. And while budgets have been squeezed, “this trend will not change,” comments Liebetrau. “In fact, more companies realise the benefit and competitive advantage that meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions can have for both its business clients and staff.”

“Coming out of the recession, most companies understand that it is time to excite their teams to go the extra mile,” agrees Chief Executive Officer of Duma Travel, Themba Mthombeni. “Extensive research has shown that monetary incentives have a short fulfillment life span, versus a travel incentive that creates lifelong memories.” Once again, it boils down to wanting a return on investment. Three little words that are crucial to the MICE industry proving that a dollar, naira or shilling invested, reaps greater rewards for the business.

However, while many companies have their eye on the bottom line, many corporate entities – especially those with one foot in the European market – are also keeping an eye on the environment’s stake in the convention or incentive being planned. “The need to reduce carbon footprint and support sustainable development practices is becoming increasingly important in the decision-making process,” notes Pedersen. “More companies are looking for event management companies that incorporate social responsibility into their events and promote responsible corporate citizenship.”

‘Greening’ has become a major issue, with companies wish to lessen their carbon footprint,” agrees Forsyth. But it’s perhaps important to remember that not all destinations are created equal. A city or region that’s perfect for incentive travel – where the focus is on rewarding past performance – could be hopeless for an executive strategy meeting.

And it’s all the more reason why companies need to carefully calculate whether the ‘where’ dovetails with the ‘why’ of their event, particularly if a professional destination management company is not involved in the planning. With their business-focused capitals and good air connectivity, Kenya, Mozambique, Morocco, Nigeria and Ghana remain important destinations for meetings and conventions, while “Zanzibar, Namibia, Mauritius, Victoria Falls –both Zambia and Zimbabwe – and Egypt” are popular choices for incentive trips, says Pedersen. Mombasa and Botswana, with convenient flight routings from Johannesburg, are also proving to be popular incentive destinations, funneling vital business to the region’s hospitality industry.

“In South Africa, there is definitely increased interest in the Durban/Umhlanga region after the opening of the new airport in 2009, and the construction of numerous new hotels in and around these two areas,” adds Liebetrau. “We have also noticed a trend in the past 12 months that smaller regions or towns are becoming increasingly popular, where in the past a core focus was placed on major cities in the country.”

“MICE travel is crucial to Hilton Worldwide in southern Africa. Next to individual and corporate travellers, it’s the most important sector,” says Idoko from Hilton Worldwide. While Hilton’s most important conference-focused hotels are in Sandton (Johannesburg) and Durban, South Africa, Idoko says even their smaller properties in Cape Town and Windhoek attract their fair share of MICE business. It’s important to remember that size and sway are all relative.

“Each hotel has different weights of MICE business, so the hotels that aren’t able to do large exhibitions can do smaller meetings,” says Idoko. “But it also depends on the market – our hotel in Windhoek may be small in comparison to Sandton or Durban, but in the Namibian market it’s a major venue for variety and facilities.” It’s certainly a competitive market out there, and suppliers – from hotels to destination management companies – are working hard for their share of the corporate pie.

“We pride ourselves on being a company that makes it very easy to book meetings,” says Idoko. “We have flexible rates and all our promotions on room rates are available online, so especially for small gatherings it’s very easy to do via the Internet. Importantly, each of our hotels has a dedicated meetings team, so when you call a Hilton Hotel you can speak to a member of a dedicated MICE team.”

Idoko touches on something that is clearly becoming more of a norm, particularly with the big international hotel brands who have the means to dedicate staff and resources to this area of their business. While conference and incentive organisers often focus their efforts – and budget – on accommodation and activities, getting delegates from airport to function venue and back again is just as important, and this is where car rental companies, airlines and air charter companies come in.

“The trends we have picked up are around costs, efficiencies and the tailor-made experiences in the final delivery,” says Lance Smith, Executive Sales at Avis Rent a Car.

Avis, with offices across Africa, is a key player in the MICE industry, offering transport solutions that range from point-to-point transfers to coach charters and traditional car hire. “Avis MICE supports this by providing one point of contact for all your needs, a specialised team, one centralised account across many services and 24-hour assistance and support on the ground when needed,” adds Smith.

Service and flexibility are certainly key, as companies that plunge and spend hard-earned cash on a conference or incentive, expect providers to tweak their offering to fit. “We offer a flexible range of products, and ensure that we customise each client’s request – we take the client’s budget into consideration and work around that,” says Canevari. “We also do offer negotiated rates for larger groups, and various MICE specials and promotions are offered.”

It’s a common trend with corporate hotels, with the likes of Crowne Plaza Johannesburg – The Rosebank offering residential rates for groups staying in the hotel. “We also have one co-ordinator assisting with the entire group, from reserving of hotel rooms to conference venues,” adds Michelle Bebber, Conference and Events Reservations Manager, who says the trend they’re seeing is towards last-minute conference bookings. That might have to do with companies watching their pennies more closely, and only releasing budget once they know how the previous quarter’s numbers looked.

Increasingly, the clincher for companies spending their MICE budget is less about the ‘what’ and ‘where’, but about the ‘who’, says Liebetrau: “Clients are spoiled for choice. Each hotel or venue prides itself on unique facilities or amenities, but its staff are key to making any booking a success and clients wanting to return.”

 The ‘Business Events’ industry across the continent may be becoming ever more competitive, but a nip and a tuck for an industry in the past seen as extravagant and wasteful, is perhaps not a bad thing. Streamlining and efficiency is the buzzword of global economics this decade, and Africa’s players in the MICE industry – the savvy ones at least – are tweaking their offering to tap into a corporate world that still has an appetite for meetings and incentives, provided the numbers are right. “The first quarter of 2013 has already shown significant growth from last year,” says Liebetrau. “We do, however, believe the second quarter will be stable on last year, with the third and last quarter reflecting significant growth again.”

Importantly, suppliers in the MICE industry can’t afford to rest on their laurels, says Oelofse from Premier Hotels and Resorts: “We are having to constantly adapt, shape and tailor our offering. Every client’s individual needs are different and we therefore need to be ever-changing.”

To use a somewhat hackneyed saying, the only constant is change, and that is certainly true of the meetings, incentives, conference and events industry. While it has had its fair share of turbulence, it is – like the rest of the continent’s economy – sure to follow the inevitable peaks and troughs of global markets. And for players in the MICE industry who have kept their finger on the pulse of what their clients need – and been nimble enough to act accordingly – there is always business to be found.

“Summer and winter have come around regularly for the last six thousand years of recorded history,” muses Forsyth of Recreation Africa. “Spring will surely follow the winter that we have been experiencing, but no matter what the climate, the experienced sailor is always able to get some wind in his sails!”

Nicely put!

MAURITIUS – MICE: ISLAND STYLE

Just four hours from Johannesburg, Mauritius has long been popular with travellers for having both white coral beaches and piña coladas on tap. But look beyond the waving palms and tanned holidaymakers and you’ll find a destination that is proving increasingly popular for both conferences and incentives. Although MICE visitors currently make up only a small percentage of visitors, there is enormous potential as the island ticks all the right boxes of accessibility, facilities and affordability.

“Mauritius is the perfect MICE destination,” says Karl Braunecker, Managing Director of Connections Tourism Management Ltd. “It offers good air access from all major markets, with a new air terminal opening in September 2013; a well-developed infrastructure including conference and meeting facilities for all group sizes; excellent off-site venues for superb functions; and, of course, some the finest resorts in the world.”

“The MICE travel market has always been popular to Mauritius, but we have noticed in the last two years that the meetings, incentive, conference and events market has increased substantially,” notes Carla da Silva, Regional Manager: Southern Africa and Latin America for Air Mauritius. “Mauritius caters perfectly to the MICE market, as the hotels understand the requirements of the sector. Air Mauritius is also flexible in terms of increasing capacity where required. We also do charter flights over and above normal operations, and/or supplementary flights.”

“The resorts in Mauritius are of exceptional quality,” agrees Michelle Hunter, MICE & Golf Events Manager for World Leisure Holidays. “Many offer all-inclusive packages, which is of prime importance to the corporate client on a budget, as they know what their costs are upfront, with no hidden surprises.”

Mauritius may offer a laid-back tropical locale for the serious business of conferencing and incentivizing sales, but it certainly hasn’t been immune to the global trend of trimming budgets. “There is definitely a need for elasticity. As budgets shrink and needs increase, the client is really looking for bang for their buck,” says Hunter. “MICE costs are managed by reducing time away, reducing the number of delegates, looking at more quotes, and by cycling through local markets back to international markets on pre-determined frequencies. Business confidence also plays a big role in MICE decisions. When it’s low, like now, business takes a very cautious approach, so we have also seen last-minute booking trends.”

“The major trend we have noticed is the demand for twin-bedded rooms,” notes Braunecker, “meaning companies are incentivizing their staff, but not including partners, which is an obvious indication of tighter budgets.”

The duration of incentive visits has also shortened from between five and seven nights to three or four nights, and from an airline perspective, companies are increasingly downgrading to the Economy cabin to save money. “Last-minute bookings, tighter budgets and small group sizes are far more popular,” adds Da Silva. “Shorter stays are becoming a trend as time is money, and getting back to business is key.”

“From South Africa,” adds Braunecker, “we tend to benefit from reduced budgets, as long-distance destinations are often replaced with regional destinations. There also seems to be a shift from typical formal group activities to more free time and individual activities.”

“Mauritius is considered a regional destination, so it fits into often-strict criteria set by the end-client, and no visas or vaccinations make Mauritius stand out above other African destinations,” says Da Silva from Air Mauritius, who adds that the airline offers a number of value-add propositions for group clients, including set rates for groups, name changes allowed prior to tickets being issued, dedicated check-in counters, a send-off from the sales team at the airport, as well as personalised service and branded head rests on-board the aircraft. 

It’s about transforming transport from A-to-B into an integral part of the event or incentive. And as trends evolve and old habits change, conference and incentive organisers are also looking at new resorts across the island. “Over the past two years, the South African incentive market has become aware of the fact that Mauritius has a large variety of newer and exciting properties located across the island,” says Braunecker. “Regions which have previously not received much MICE business from South Africa – the east and south coast – are now attracting more groups.”

“Mauritius will always have growth within the African sector, as it is an easy destination to get to from many African destinations, and has a very professional and sought after offering within the MICE market,” concludes Hunter.

MAURITIUS: WHERE TO MICE?

North: There is no shortage of large MICE-focused properties in the north of the island, with the likes of the Intercontinental, The Maritim and Le Meridien. “These hotels offer large room capacities, as well as meeting facilities for up to 1,500 persons,” says Braunecker.

South: The Bel Ombre Estate boasts two Heritage resorts – Le Telfair and Awali – which offer unrivalled access to a championship golf course. In the south-west, the first St. Regis in the Indian Ocean opened to great acclaim in 2012.

East: With its modern design, Long Beach is one of the newer hotels in the World Leisure Holidays stable, and offers a unique Mauritian experience. There are five specialty restaurants, and an array of sporting and other activities. Importantly, there is a state-of-the-art conference facility and a restaurant dedicated for groups, private functions and gala dinners.

West: The ‘grand dame’ of conferencing in Mauritius, Sugar Beach has lost none of its appeal, and an experienced MICE team ensures incentives and conferences run smoothly. The modern function facilities can easily cater for events hosting up to 350 delegates.

MAURITIUS 101

Getting there: Air Mauritius flies from Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban to Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport in the south of the island. Due to the island’s narrow, winding and congested roads, the drive to the capital, Port Louis can take up to two hours. Emirates, South African Airways, BA/Comair and Air Seychelles also serve the island.

Visas: Citizens of most African countries do not require a visa to travel to Mauritius, and receive a 60-day entry permit on arrival.

Time zone: GMT+4

Dialling code: +230 + area code + number required

Currency: Mauritius Rupee. US$1=MUS30

Language: English is the official language of government and business, but both Mauritian Creole and French are spoken widely.

MEETINGS: IT’S TIME FOR AFRICA

The continent’s growing importance as a destination for meetings, conferences and exhibitions was cemented at the most recent ‘Meetings Africa’ convention held in Johannesburg this February. Among nearly 3,000 delegates were over 300 hosted buyers – 30% up on 2012’s figures – from across the region and the globe, all in town to see what Africa has to offer as a destination for business events.

“It was really exciting to welcome these buyers to Meetings Africa 2013,” said South African Tourism Chief Executive Officer, Thulani Nzima. “It’s very encouraging that so many buyers were in attendance for the first time this year.”

Both traditional and fledgling source markets were represented, with more than 30 of the carefully-vetted international buyers from India. Dozens more flew in from the USA, Canada, China, Brazil and Russia, indicating the increasing globalization of Africa’s appeal as an affordable, but world-class business events destination. “We made a number of very useful contacts from the global hosted buyer group, and I am certain good business will come from those meetings,” commented Dyson Banda, Assistant Director of Tourism at the Malawi Ministry of Tourism and Culture.

www.meetingsafrica.co.za

MICE ON THE HIGH SEAS?

With the global cruise market expected to grow nearly five percent in 2013 – to a staggering $36 billion ­­­– it stands to reason that the high seas will become increasingly popular for corporate, as well as leisure, travellers. Yet, as companies trim travel budgets and cast a beady eye over the return on investment from sending top achievers on a cruise through the Caribbean, the local arm of global giant MSC Cruises, is looking to tap into companies hoping to leverage the excellent value-for-money cruising has to offer.

“Holding your MICE events at sea is the best value-for-money you can get in South Africa,” says Stefano Vigoriti, Director of New Business Development for MSC Cruises, emphatically.

And he may well be right. Unlike traditional MICE destinations, cruise companies pride themselves on the fact that once on board, the lion’s share of costs – drinks being the only major exclusion – are taken care of. Accommodation, meals, entertainment, and conferencing facilities: tick, tick, tick, tick.

“It’s especially popular towards the end of the year for strategy meetings and executive board meetings. When we talk to corporate clients, the demand could be for anything from a strategy gathering of 20 to 30 people, right up to a large conference,” says Vigoriti.

“At the moment we are focusing on corporate meetings, but we’re also looking at associations for the conferencing side. We began focusing on MICE travel in July 2012, so we’re only just starting to see the results. But the corporates we’re in contact with have come back positively and many are testing the waters with smaller groups.”

For the 2013/2014 season, MSC Cruises will return two ships that have become increasingly popular in local waters. MSC Sinfonia offers 777 cabins, including 132 balcony suites, with the ship boasting four restaurants, 10 bars, two swimming pools and the MSC Aurea Spa. For downtime between meetings – there are conference facilities and a fully-equipped business centre – there is also a state-of-the-art fitness centre, golf simulator and casino. The larger MSC Opera has 856 cabins, which includes both balcony cabins and spacious balcony suites, alongside four restaurants, 11 bars, team-building facilities and a business centre. MSC Cruises also offers a specialised Groups department to assist in tailoring facilities and reservations to individual events or programmes.

Perhaps most importantly, the coming cruise season will allow more opportunities for conference and events travel than in previous years. “The 2013/204 season for the MSC Opera has been extended to almost six months, from November to April, and to four months with MSC Sinfonia,” says Vigoriti. “This means we will have more than ample opportunity to provide the corporate world with the dates they require, especially in November when most of these events seem to take place. We’ve found two-night cruises are ideal for a product launch or a sales indaba, so we’ve increased the number of two-night cruises on offer in the upcoming season.”

“Our experience in the past few years has been that a cruise conference or event creates a lot more interest amongst delegates than the traditional land-based venues,” adds Allan Foggitt, Director of Sales and Marketing for MSC Cruises South Africa. “An added bonus is that partners can come along and be entertained by the comprehensive onboard entertainment programme, whilst delegates are in conference.”

Partners and family members have long been trimmed from shrinking MICE budgets, but a major selling point of conferencing at sea is that delegates’ partners pay 50% of the fare, while children under-18 cruise for free.

For more information visit msccruises.co.za or call +27 11 798 3600.

PRIVATE PLANES: AFFORDABLE OR EXTRAVAGANT?

As companies cut MICE budgets and look to trim the fat off unnecessary expenses, a surprising exception is the air charter companies that continue to thrive across southern Africa, serving both conference and incentive clients looking to impress customers, reward staff or – simply – save time. “The travel arrangements for a group can be complex, and depending on a scheduled airline can – at times – not be the solution,” explains Iain Clark, Managing Director of air charter specialists, Chapman Freeborn Africa. “We are seeing more corporate clients looking at the option of air charter, as they can have the flexibility they are requiring.”

And despite the cloud of doom and gloom that has stubbornly rained on the corporate travel parade the past five years, the boom in travel from emerging markets – including the likes of India, China and Brazil – has seen a steady rise in interest for the air charter industry. “With more international conferences being secured by South Africa, more   requests for charter quotes are coming through,” says Clark. “Business travellers spend on average three times more than leisure travelers, and we are receiving more requests from destination management companies for clients that are from emerging markets.”

Because rather than mindlessly cutting costs, corporate travel buyers are often simply driving a hard bargain in search of value. Provide meaningful value and a return on investment, and the actual cost in shillings, rands or meticais becomes less of a sticking point. While hopping in a private plane may seem extravagant and wasteful, charters can offer valuable time savings due to flexible flight routes, bespoke schedules and the ability to confirm travel plans at the last-minute, with no penalties. Consider a strategic getaway for 10 high-flying executives squeezing in a last-minute think-tank before returning to offices across the continent. Waiting half-a-day for a scheduled commercial flight could result in more time away from the office, a drop in productive hours and – quite likely –an expensive hotel bill.

Charter a plane and you save time and money, and boost productivity. On top of that, throw in the intangible ‘feel-good’ benefits of added exclusivity for rewarding top-performers on incentives, or the opportunity to brand aircraft for product launches, and suddenly air charter becomes a viable value-add to the MICE budget. “We don’t believe that air charter is only for the high-end MICE client,” concludes Clark, adding: “we believe that the MICE market in Africa has potential to grow further.”

For more information visit chapman-freeborn.com or call +27 78 8039562.