The bigger, the better - PCOs

Demand for bigger and better – especially large convention centres – is on the increase. Liesl Venter finds out more.

Ask any PCO and they will tell you, the country needs bigger convention centres.

Tes Proos, a Cape Town based organiser and destination management specialist, says this is especially necaassary in Cape Town and Durban. “Johannesburg has several more of these large facilities, but in Cape Town we just don’t have enough conference and event space that caters for large numbers of people.”

Having these facilities are of increasing importance - especially if the country wants to draw international conferences and events.

“It is only the convention centres and a handful of other venues that can handle thousands of people at any given time,” says Proos. “Increasing our convention facilities should be at the top of our agenda in the MICE sector.”

It is with that in mind that the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) has been extending its facilties. With construction just about completed the CTICC extension, CTICC 2, will provide an additional 31 148m2 of space to the existing centre, says Julie-May Ellingson, CTICC ceo.

“It will add some 10 000m2 of multi-purpose conference and exhibition space and 3 000m2 of formal and informal meeting space.  A new coffee shop, a number of smaller meeting rooms and large informal meeting areas are also going to increase our offering,” Ellingson says.

Overall, the expansion adds 28% more space to the centre that will cover a total of 140 855m2 when completed.

This, says Ellingsen, will allow the convention centre the ability to host much larger events than is currently the case, while it can also increase the number of events hosted.

With the end in sight – the extension is expected to be completed within the next few weeks, and the first event scheduled to take place in September this year, there is much excitement in the Cape Town conferencing sector about the development.

With a whopping R832 million spent on the expansion, it will dramatically improve Cape Town’s international conferencing venue offering.

According to Scott Langley, corporate affairs and marketing manager at the Durban International Convention Centre (ICC), upgrades and renovations are also on the cards for this venue. “Our refurbishment plans are, however, still in discussion with the city and we cannot comment or give any timelines for the project as yet,” he told TAM.

Meanwhile in Sandton, upgrades are also underway, says Adriaan Liebetrau, sales and marketing manager for the Tsogo Sun Sandton Mile that includes the Sandton Convention Centre.

But, he says, the extent of these upgrades and the progress thereof is still being kept under wraps.

Both Langley and Scott, however, say convention centres are in high demand and it is therefore essential to ensure facilities are continuously being upgraded – but add that most facilities are increasingly looking at expanding to meet the growing demand.

Liebetrau says as internationally-acclaimed venues, convention centres have to operate extremely unique business models that often work on hosting events years in advance.

“Interpreting our client’s needs and balancing them with their expectations while offering them a tailor-made solution that will enhance the delegate experience all play a critical part in the fine art of servicing our clients,” he says.

This includes an ongoing focus on delivering the best possible facilities at all times, Liebetrau concludes.

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