The Rand Show 2013 was a great success, thanks to expert planning and hard work. As one show ends, another one begins. Craig Newman, JEC CEO, talks past, present and future.
A lot of thought went into the changing of the annual Rand Show and there are always challenges when transforming a long-standing event. Bold changes? Yes. But positive? Most definitely. “We expected the show to be a high-impact event and are delighted to say it met all our expectations,” says Newman. “We believe that running for five days instead of 11, as in previous years, was certainly the right decision. The show was short, sharp and impactful. We added more content in half the number of days, ensuring this would be an unforgettable experience.”
One of the best ways to know if an event was successful or not is from the feedback; after all it’s the visitor’s and consumer’s opinion that matters the most. “We’ve had very positive feedback from visitors and exhibitors. Some of the show’s new features, including Snow World and the Naked Scientist, were an instant hit with the crowds. Of course, the SANDF displays, Animal Kingdom and the Festival of Motoring are still firm favourites for most visitors. This event is unique and we pride ourselves on the fact that it caters for the under six year olds to the over 60s. We’ve always promised a great line-up and value for money, and this year was no different. Our exhibitors also appreciated the new format of the show as it provided them with an opportunity to make a great impact on visitors in the time that they were there,” Newman adds.
This year, the Rand Show saw over 150 000 visitors. “Pretty much the same as last year’s 11-day show,” says Newman. With a show of this magnitude it’s difficult to pinpoint one major attraction that stands out from the rest; however, “I firmly believe that our approach to ensure high-quality content with both the exhibition and entertainment made an enormous difference this year and added to the show’s success,” Newman confirms.
There’s no denying that the show needed a revival. “The Rand Show has become an iconic fixture on the annual Johannesburg calendar over the Easter weekend. We needed to make the event one that people wouldn’t forget. I believe we’ve achieved that and once again elevated the status of this event,” says a confident Newman.
The Rand Show is, without a doubt, one of the biggest consumer events in the JEC portfolio and there are a number of factors that needed to be carefully planned and organised to ensure its success. That’s not to say the other events and shows require less attention to detail. “We believe that every event presents its own unique challenges and opportunities. Every show requires careful planning, research, hard work and dedication to ensure that our clients, exhibitors, visitors and other stakeholders are satisfied with the event,” says Newman.
Making sure everything runs smoothly is a combination of many months of careful planning, thorough communication with all stakeholders and suppliers, and having trusted relationships with these stakeholders as well. Over the years, the JEC has built up a large portfolio of suppliers that ensure the success of its events. “One also can’t underestimate the role our employees play in bringing together each event. We have a loyal, dedicated and committed team,” Newman adds.
Next year, the JEC will once again put its focus towards adding new features, content and entertainment to the show, and building on past successes. “I believe we can always improve on our exhibition offering at the Rand Show and create a better curated show floor,” says Newman.
Now onto Automechanika; this next big event on the JEC calendar takes place from 8 to 11 May. “Being a business to business exhibition, we believe that the visitor numbers won’t differ much from the last show; however, we do focus a lot more on the quality of the visitor. We aim to provide good quality buyers for all our exhibitors too,” he explains. Automechanika Johannesburg runs on a two-year cycle. From the moment the previous show is over, the team focuses its attention on increasing the number of international pavilions, as well as the quality of industry and local exhibitors. With Automechanika being a CONEX, another very important aspect of the planning is to ensure there is good content for the various conferences that run concurrently with the show.
According to Newman, a firm favourite on the exhibition calendar is the Johannesburg International Motor Show (JIMS), which takes place from 16 to 27 October this year. The biennial business to consumer expo continues to draw large interest from the automotive industry worldwide, as well as high-quality consumers. JIMS is an excellent platform for the various vehicle manufacturers to showcase their new products, technologies and developments.
So, now that almost half the year has gone, how has it fared so far for the JEC? “We’ve had a phenomenal start to 2013. While it’s been clear that previously recessionary conditions have impacted the industry, it’s forced us to adapt, change and focus on strategy and innovation. These can only bring positive changes to the industry and encourage us to keep on our toes while we continue to deliver world-class events each time,” Newman concludes.