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AAXO Logo2Some of the largest and most successful exhibition organisers in South Africa including Specialised Exhibitions Montgomery, MMI South Africa, Hypenica, Thebe Reed Exhibitions, Spintelligent, Terrapinn, The Wedding Group, SA Confex Services, TE Trade Events, Exposure Marketing, and Synergy Business Events, have announced that they will be launching a new industry association – the Association of African Exhibition Organisers (AAXO).

AAXO will be a powerful and cohesive voice that speaks on behalf of exhibition organisers specifically. It will focus on the urgent issues and unique challenges facing organisers and will prioritise market research and trend tracking in order to drive the constant innovation needed to keep the SA exhibition sector flourishing and profitable. The formation of AAXO follows the decision from several organisers to break away from the umbrella body for exhibitions and events, EXSA. The intention is to create a platform with greater benefits for organisers, however AAXO will continue to engage and align with EXSA.

With the increased complexity evident in the industry, the shifting media landscape and the constant pressure on exhibition organisers to provide a return on investment for exhibitors, there is a need for improved leadership and an emphasis on flexibility and innovation.

Focused on this, AAXO will give members unique benefits, tailored to their requirements, in order to help them to stay competitive. These include: a company listing and listing of their exhibitions on the AAXO website; creating a BBBEE suppliers list; association social media engagement; member discounts from preferred suppliers; exhibition and organiser awards; and advice on venues in Africa.

Exhibitors will also benefit. Companies that take a stand at exhibitions organised by AAXO members will be assured peace of mind, given that the Association will act as a mediator between exhibitors and organisers, and negotiate a speedy resolution to any conflict that may arise. Exhibitors will also receive tips and guidelines on exhibiting, and information about related workshops throughout the year. AAXO will also give their members workshops and training on exhibitor education, to enhance relations between the two groups.

“The decision to break away from EXSA has been an ongoing debate amongst organisers for a number of years. EXSA is very supplier-led and we feel that they are not serving the best interest of the organisers.

“We believe that exhibition organisers need a collective voice to lobby various stakeholders. Priorities need to be on annual research and industry benchmarking, tracking trends and quantifying our industry in terms of its size and value. We feel that EXSA in its current form is introspective, slow and focused on internal issues and drivers. However, we are of course still willing to align with EXSA and have a working relationship with suppliers and venues to discuss common industry issues,” says Carol Weaving, managing director of Thebe Reed.