Danny Bryer is the Director of Sales, Marketing and Revenue for the Protea Hospitality Group, Africas largest hotel company comprising some 130 African Pride Hotels and Protea Hotels in eight countries.
The MICE industry as a whole has been through some trying times since 2010. From a hospitality perspective business and MICE travel, which are the lifeblood of hotels, declined in many regions.
But after the small but steady turnaround in 2012 and an optimistic medium term economic outlook, the latter part of the year ahead will hopefully signal the beginning of a business as usual phase for the country.
In the meantime hotels will be aggressively pursuing a majority share of the MICE market and theyll get most of what theyre going for, because austerity is still on the menu and massive conferences that need thousands of square metres are few and far between.
Hotels that have presented value for money without sacrificing service or accommodation standards are better positioned to acquire conferencing business from these clients who might previously have used convention centres.
Add to that the convenience of offering of a one stop shop solution of meeting place and accommodation rolled into one and its clear why hotels work well for this market segment.
The one stop shop is also among the foremost reasons that conference venues in lifestyle precincts are experiencing rapidly growth. Hotels such as African Pride Crystal Towers Hotel & Spa in Century City, Cape Town, and African Pride Melrose Arch Hotel and Protea Hotel Fire & Ice! Melrose Arch in Johannesburg are in demand not only because of the standard of facilities and service, but also because of where they are located.
From a PCO point of view theres no transport to organise if people are already staying in their meeting venue, and there are fewer activities to arrange after hours if theyre within walking distance of a host of entertainment facilities.
Its not time to be dancing to Were in the Money! just yet, though. The IMF is restricting its SA growth projection to 3% because of the countrys strong trade links to Europe, so we need to be cognisant that SA is not yet awash with money.
This means we need to give the MICE sector those value-adds they need.
Overall, 2013 is going to be a year of slow but steady improvement, and a year in which industry players should be selling based on the value propositions and core differentiators of the destination and that of their product offering. Those who are waiting passively for the money to roll back in will find themselves quickly left behind.