Global Exhibition Day Summary

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120 people attended the first ever Global Exhibitions Day event held at Johannesburg Expo Centre on 8 June 2016.

Facilitated by Yvonne Johnson, Marketer at Large – the morning kicked off with a networking breakfast and then specialist speakers on a variety of subjects took to the podium to celebrate exhibitions and all they mean to the South African economy.

As the South African industry aligned with exhibition companies around the world, the audience became very aware of the vital role South Africa plays in this global industry. This is an industry driven by innovation, connection to key players and customers and contributes significantly to both tourism revenue and the nation’s GDP.

We were introduced to the new GM for EXSA, an impressive, youthful looking Phumulani Hlatswayo who will lead EXSA into the future. He was at pains to tell us that he had twenty years of business experience under his belt.

Sue Gannon and Joy Donovan announced details of the newly formed EXSA Academy which will play a vital role in accrediting and up-skilling the industry. This is a very welcome initiative that will create opportunities within the sector.

Craig Newman, CEO of Expo Centre and who sits on the UFI Board, told the audience that a major coup has been achieved with the UFI world conference taking place in Cape Town next year which will bring all of the important players in this sector to SA. Craig shared global stats on exhibitions.

Nonnie Kubeka, Gauteng Convention Bureau, said that the exhibition industry was setting trends and were knowledge makers. The industry needs to celebrate its impact of their contribution to Business Tourism and the MICE sector. Turn the key of success and make sure exhibitions are recognized for their worth and their growth.

Gift Luthuli, an Event Risk and Compliance specialist reminded us all in the most charming way that all success starts with the correct contract in place. When things go wrong, and sometimes they do, the contract is what will protect the various parties. It is vital to elevate the understanding of the risks and necessary compliance within the industry.

Dave Nemeth, trend specialist identified 6 key trends to inform the innovation within the industry:

  • Take inspiration from the past – create products that people can recognize – which are close to their hearts. Consumers are buying into this.
  • Be relevant
  • Be authentic – tell stories – why are we doing this?
  • Experiences outweigh things – experiences connect people
  • Use new technology – VR and AR – virtual reality and augmented reality are here
  • Disruptive interpretation – break the rules and trends

“If you are trying to achieve Best practice, you are a follower”


The industry is strong, but needs to stand together to create an awareness of its impact and significance. It is in the hands of seasoned professionals who are welcoming the new young energetic voices.

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