Operating under new ownership for nearly a year, the Johannesburg Expo Centre (JEC) is working harder than ever before. CEO Craig Newman highlights the venue’s unique selling points that will continue to see it exceed expectations in 2020.
During 2019, the JEC played host to numerous key events, becoming a firm favourite among the movers and shakers of South Africa. From major political gatherings and government rallies, to large-scale trade shows and conferences, 2019 was a busy year for the JEC that saw the venue host a number of key events. “The Nasrec area, and the JEC in particular, has an incredible history behind it that lends itself to our knowledge and expertise, and what we are seeing is – even in an economy that has seen better days – overall, the exhibition circuit is successfully capitalising on consumer interest, and smaller-scale exhibitions are doing well too,” explains Craig.
“As a venue, we take great pride in the versatility of the JEC. We have handled large-scale events such as Ultra South Africa, with thousands in attendance, but we can also provide the perfect backdrop for more intimate functions such as corporate year-end functions and exclusive gala dinners.” – CEO Craig Newman
Situated in the south of Johannesburg, the JEC is easily accessible for travelling delegations; the venue is located 30 minutes away from Gauteng’s international airports and a short distance from main and national highways. Its sprawling premises provide a vast range of offerings that not only make it Africa’s largest, fully contained, multipurpose venue but a sought-after space for an assortment of activations and experiences. It is also one of the only venues in South Africa to have its own registered helipad.
“As a venue, we take great pride in the versatility of the JEC and go to great lengths to ensure that, through our network, our clients can benefit from a full turnkey solution while enjoying the best customer service. We have handled large-scale events such as Ultra South Africa, with thousands in attendance, but we can also provide the perfect backdrop for more intimate functions such as corporate year-end functions and exclusive gala dinners,” says Craig.
A renewed strategy
In February 2019, GL events announced that it would acquire a 60% controlling stake of the JEC’s shareholding. The acquisition has since seen an integration of both the JEC’s and GL events South Africa’s operations and resources, and together with a directive that is purely focused on nurturing the growth of the venue, the JEC is playing to its core strengths.
“With careful planning and the support of its extensive network of key industry players, the JEC and its team were able to wrap up Automechanika on the afternoon of 21 September and have its halls ready for the China Homelife Fair opening on Monday morning, 23 September, with no incidents.”
The additional capacity has meant that the JEC has been able to execute on the near impossible: in September last year, the venue hosted Automechanika alongside both the FuturRoad Expo and the build-up of China Homelife Fair. With careful planning and the support of its extensive network of key industry players, the JEC and its team were able to wrap up Automechanika on the afternoon of 21 September and have its halls ready for the China Homelife Fair opening on Monday morning, 23 September, with no incidents.
Underscoring the importance of industry collaboration, Craig highlights that the successful running of three large-scale exhibitions concurrently was significant for the JEC’s organiser teams and on-the-ground staff, as well as the industry as a whole. Beyond the venue’s capabilities, Craig also emphasises the importance of hosting good exhibitors.
“Quality exhibitors remain the key drawcard at any event. At niche events, this is especially important. If you would like to attract discerning buyers to your event, it’s imperative that you are equally discerning about the quality of your exhibitors, because the information age has made consumers pickier than ever before. That said, South Africans do love a good exhibition,” he says.
In 2020, the JEC will continue to grow its industry network as well as enhance the venue’s value proposition that services each corner of the MICE industry.
While the venue’s versatility means that it can host an event of any size and scale, its purposebuilt facilities and its capacity for running largescale shows make it ideal for exhibitions, and this presents an array of valuable potential prospects for the JEC.
“Exhibitions are uniquely focused marketing opportunities that bring the target market to exhibitors, allowing them to network with a captive audience and nurture ongoing relationships. Exhibitions still put smiles on faces and money in pockets. And they get bigger and better every year. The 2020 exhibition circuit is set to be the most impressive yet,” concludes Craig.
The JEC has been the venue of choice for a multitude of events, with one of its most recent being the Pass Out Parade of the Johannesburg Metro Police Department. On 25 November 2019, a ceremony was held for the recruitment of an additional 1 085 JMPD officers selected from 65 000 applicants, with the JEC being part of the momentous occasion that saw the single largest intake of officers in South Africa.