First world countries have always been the powerhouses of mega trade fairs, with the UK, Europe and the US producing humongous exhibitions that have to some extent become the main ‘buying’ exercise for supply chains. But this has slowly begun to change, with BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) economies now producing future opportunities in the meetings, incentives and conferencing and exhibition industries.
South Africa is a natural leader in this arena, with emerging markets in Africa placing the nation on the global exhibition landscape. This helps to strengthen SA’s own position and that of the continent, allowing it to meet increasing demand. But although Africa has become a beacon of hope for the business events industry, there are many who worry that it is not yet ready to take on the many responsibilities that come with creating a world-class meetings economy.
Actually, what is a PCO?
To demonstrate the lack of education and expertise in Africa, Convention Industry Consultants’ Dirk Elzinga recently shared a story about a trip to Kenya. “All of us were stunned speechless three years ago at an ICCA Africa workshop in Nairobi,” he said, “when an almost retired Ugandan professor timidly took the microphone and asked, ‘But what do you mean, what is a PCO?’ We, the experienced players in the international congress business – predominantly from South Africa I must say – had no clue that there were people out here who had no clue about the existence of something like a Professional Conference Organiser! After the professor’s question was answered he said, ‘If I only would have heard about that before, I would have organised so many more congresses in my life!’”