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Organising annual two to three day conferences for around 1 000 professional delegates, along with the attendant exhibitions, workshop sessions, networking opportunities and food and beverage specifications requires a venue that is consistently professional, helpful, flexible and friendly.

That’s Sandton Convention Centre (SCC), says Felicity von Oettingen, Manager: Training & Seminars for LexisNexis South Africa, leading provider of workflow solutions to legal, risk management, business, government, and academic professionals, and marketer on behalf of third parties of two top annual conferences that have been held at Sandton Convention Centre for several years running.

The Financial Planning Institute of Southern Africa (FPI) is the leading independent professional body for financial planners in South Africa. Its Annual Convention has been held at SCC for three years running, with contracts in place for the next few years.

The FPI Annual Convention is the largest annual event on the South African financial planning calendar, attracting just under 1 000 delegates each year. It includes keynote sessions from local and international industry experts, practical workshops, as well as an exhibition that runs for the duration of the convention. Also featured is a cocktail event where the winner of the much coveted Financial Planner of the Year Award is announced.

The Annual Labour Law Conference, which has been held at Sandton Convention Centre for five years, is facilitated by LexisNexis on behalf of the universities of Cape Town, KwaZulu-Natal, and Johannesburg, and is the flagship event in the labour law calendar. The conference, which this year runs from 30 July to 1 August, attracts representatives from government, unions, bargaining councils, private sector, and others, and features leading lights in the industry such as the Judge President of the Labour Appeal Court, Mr Justice Basheer Waglay, and the Minister of Labour, Ms Mildred Oliphant.

It also attracts about 1 000 delegates each year and features plenary sessions and several workshops.

“The venue is ideal for these professional events for several reasons,” explains Von Oettingen. “It’s centrally located in the area where at least 75 percent of the financial planning industry and a large proportion of the labour law delegates are located; transport to and from the venue is extremely convenient with the Gautrain; and Sandton Convention Centre maintains consistently high standards with regard to service, cleanliness, building maintenance, and advanced technology facilities – though I do believe it’s high time that Wi Fi was provided throughout the venue.”

Von Oettingen says that when issues do arise that need resolving, they are handled by the Sandton Convention Centre staff in a highly professional and efficient manner.

Flexibility is also a strong feature of Sandton Convention Centre’s service. “For instance, they have their own AV supplier, but they are extremely accommodating and helpful when we bring our own AV supplier.”

She adds that the food and beverage offering is excellent. There is always a wide variety of food available and the menus are innovative. Often the chefs will use their initiative to add ‘an extra something’ to the mix. The bar service too is good. What impresses Von Oettingen is that turnover among the banqueting staff is very low – and from year to year, the same professional standards are maintained by a team that knows and understands the clients’ requirements.

In her personal capacity, with extensive experience in the conference and event venue industry, Von Oettingen says the warmth and friendliness of the Sandton Convention Centre staff is wonderful. “I’m greeted like an old friend. They know how important it is for a guest to be made to feel comfortable – and they do.”