in 2012

Business isn’t booming for everyone; however. it’s not all doom and gloom in the teambuilding industry, as Meetings SA recently found out. Two teambuilding companies, Dream Team Catalyst and Elephants in Main Street, tell us about the year that was and what they – and we – can look forward to in 2013.

“At Dream Team Catalyst, we’re very aware that 2012 wasn’t the best year on record for business around the globe, in South Africa and in the MICE industry. We are very grateful, however, that we managed to grow the business in line with our expectations and we once again beat budget,” says Gerry Skerritt, MD of Dream Team Catalyst.

“The key driver in business at the moment is value and we’ve focused more than ever on ensuring we deliver that to every client at all times,” explains Skerritt. “We don’t strive to be the cheapest, but we do make it very difficult to be beaten on ‘value for money experiences’.”

Clients are faced with the challenge, through headcount reductions and tighter operating budgets, of achieving more with less in their day-to-day business. To do this, they realise they need to have more productive people and while they could encourage them to work harder, the more sustainable route is to foster a culture of working smarter. People who think innovatively and synergise better with one another will always outperform those who ‘do what they’ve always done’ and compete rather than collaborate with their colleagues.

Dream Team Catalyst introduced 12 new products this year. The most exciting and impactful of these is Orchestrate. This world first allows participants to feel the power of a symphony orchestra by performing in one. It’s an inspiring and immensely rewarding programme that enables delegates to learn a symphony together and then perform the pieces as an orchestra all in 90 minutes. It’s a truly unique and powerful shared experience that really does make the impossible possible.

They also launched Hercules Trophy – the world’s biggest networked teambuilding event. On 18 July, Nelson Mandela Day, 600 people from 72 top South African companies gathered at SuperSport Park in Centurion for the inaugural event. The day featured 12 amazing activities (The Labours of Hercules) where companies competed against one another building camaraderie, networking and company loyalty. The South African Olympic team joined the opening ceremony and completed their “67 Minutes” with their clients, culminating in thousands of sports kit being donated to underprivileged schools. The concept of bringing teambuilding, networking, wellness, motivation and a meaningful CSI initiative into one event with a three-month online build-up was very well received by their clients and next year’s event is set to be twice as big.

“Looking at 2013 we know that we, like our clients, will face challenges but are confident that we have the right product mix, expertise and skills to remain relevant and make it a successful year once again. So despite the gloom and doom, merchants talking up inflation, downgrades, disinvestment, political turmoil and Armageddon we say, ‘Bring it on’,” concludes Skerritt.

Elephants in Main Street

“2012 has been Elephants in Main Street’s biggest year to date,” says CEO Steve Blades. “We’ve been running team building programmes and events for over 20 years. This year has been what 2006 was for us when we expanded into the Middle East and doubled our output, except we have done that five times over in the last year. Today we can truly say that we are Elephants in Main Street International.”

The company has run teambuilding events across Canada, from Vancouver and Calgary to Montreal and Toronto, as well as unusual places such as a Sudbury. Elephants in Main Street continues to do work in the United Kingdom and Namibia. “Not bad for a bunch of black and white boys from the bottom of Africa,” laughs Blade.

Their main reason for expansion comes from their consistent high level of service delivery, coupled with their internal training and development programme. “Our ‘Have you Herd’ campaign last year had just over a thousand of our past clients come and find out what we’d been up to and our reorganisation into defined market service sectors enables clients in the pharmaceutical, engineering, IT & telecommunications, financial services, media and FMCG sectors to get a dedicated, customised service. Today clients can use us in a variety of different ways, based on where they are at organisationally and what they require in order to meet their short-term people engagement needs, as well as attain their long-term strategic intent,” he adds.

The company’s biggest products in the last year have been, ‘Blog It, Baby!’, Boot camp, Project Wendy, Pressure Cooker, DJ Nights and the launch of its executive coaching programme, UNLOCK. UNLOCK connects the dots between events and makes sure clients get real value in the workplace between teambuilding and conferences.

“We’ve also given birth to a new elephant, Magic Mammoth, our dedicated in-house video production unit. This has emerged as a key resource for our clients, after nearly 10 years of producing phenomenal conference videos.”

Next year, the company will continue to service their clients in the Middle East, Europe, Australia and North and South America. “However, our South African clients will benefit from being the first to enjoy Paris, Dakar, Fashion Runway, Taxi Ride and, wait for it… Pimp my Ride,” Blade concludes.

So, all in all, a positive outcome? We think so and we can’t wait to see what 2013 has in store for the industry. By the looks of it, we have some great things to look forward to.