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While South Africa’s economy would have many believing that the MICE industry would be on its last leg, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Instead of cutting event budgets entirely, businesses both big and small are evaluating the value of business and entertainment spend more critically, and there have been a few interesting trends filtering through as a result.

Ryan Sharp (Entertainment Project Manager at Emperors Palace) and Yugashnee Naicker (Peermont Group Sales Manager) share insight into some of the latest trends they’ve noticed over the past year, and where they believe the industry is headed as we approach 2019.

Focus on the ‘why’
Planning an event in financially trying times requires a little more thought and consideration, particularly when it comes to justifying the spend allocated to an event.

“Companies will continue to host MICE events, primarily because there are complex strategic meetings, among other types of events, that still need to take place,” says Naicker.  “However, we’re seeing more companies doing this on a smaller scale to keep within smaller budgets, and honing in on the potential value of an event for the greater wellbeing of the business.”

Whether it’s a quick business meeting with potential clients or a team-building session for staff, businesses are starting to think more carefully about the ROI of their events and how they can ensure that events have a positive impact on the bottom line.

Short and sweet
Compared to the MICE events of the last few years, where companies would host two-to-three-day-long conferences, these events are becoming a lot shorter and more succinct to keep within tight budgets.

“We’re seeing more companies trying to make as much use of a venue and its facilities in a single day as they can, to ensure delegates receive all the information in a shorter time, instead of hosting the event over a few days, and prefer to fly out after the conference that same day,” Naicker says.

Convenience is (still) king
From free (and fast) Wi-Fi access to complimentary airport transfers and proximity to popular amenities, convenience and comfort continues to be top priority when planning an event. Being able to offer services that make events more memorable and enjoyable for attendees is a must. Technology has also played a huge factor in keeping costs down with the implementation of video conferencing and skype for business.

Emperors Palace recently hosted a road show with and were able to live stream the event, allowing more people to attend the event ‘virtually’ and saving on the cost of flying them out,” says Naicker. “Being able to offer the facilities that made this possible for the client was a key differentiator between The Palace of Dreams and other venues, which in the end worked in our favour.”

It’s a family affair
With today’s fast-paced lifestyle, people want to spend more of their spare time with loved ones, enjoying one another’s company and making special memories that will last a lifetime.

“When it comes to entertainment, lifestyle events taking centre stage, with events generally becoming more child-friendly to accommodate families. Feel-good, family friendly entertainment takes first prize, and lifestyle events are closely catching up to the theatre-going audience,” says Sharp.

“For instance, the entertainment offerings at Emperors Palace increasingly include family and youth entertainment with popular children’s productions such as Dora the Explorer, The Smurfs, and Peppa Pig featured, as well as family-focused events like the famous Garden of Lights,” concludes Sharp. .

Emperors Palace offers a variety of conference venues, from rustic to lush and luxurious, catering to every need including entertainment and team-building and can accommodate up to 3000 delegates. The four hotels on the property range from affordable to complete luxury, and all this can be found in one location.

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