Carol Weaving Column

Carol Weaving Column

Facilitating and organising a large trade fair is exciting work but takes a great deal of expertise, knowledge, and an enormous amount of careful and resourceful planning in order to ensure the delivery of an event that is sustainable and relevant to all stakeholders involved.  Staying relevant means that organisers need to evolve with the times, develop new ideas and concepts. They need to think out of the box and dare to be different.   Our job is to provide a platform in a creative way for people to grow their businesses and contacts, in a face to face environment.  It is all about focusing on the client’s business needs and providing a variety of options to suit a wide variety of requirements that will provide optimal value. No other marketing or sales tool provides the competitive edge by appealing to the 5 very basic of human senses, sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. 

For those involved in planning a new or re-occurring event and/ or exhibition, I have listed some useful tips and recommendations that the teams here at Thebe Reed Exhibitions adopt to ensure that we deliver a great event that is fruitful for all involved.


Research never stops when our teams plan events as big as those we are responsible for such as WTM Africa for example. It is of vital importance that we deliver the right buyers to our valued exhibitors.   The location and venue is an example of this and why WTM Africa has partnered with the Host City of Cape Town for the event.  Cape Town is an African hub for international and local tourism, it is sought after and delivers a definite match in terms of the majority of our clients’ needs.  For any B2B event, ensuring the right target audience to visit the signed-up exhibitors is essential to sustaining the success of the event, therefore the basics of the research are to:

–          Find out from potential exhibitors who their desired audience is / who do they want to talk to.

–          Reach out to as many organisations in the sector as possible in the sector to make the contacts.

–          Partner with relevant associations to network and gather contacts.

–          Establish the expected ROI outcomes for exhibitors and other stakeholders

–          Investigate the economic impact the event will have on the region and beyond



Not all budgets and needs are the same and so to attract as many exhibitor partners as possible it is important to offer them a variety that ensures their participation

–          Tier the packages that you offer for example a Gold package could be the stand space with all the bells and whistles, including wifi etc..,   Silver, Bronze and Blue.

–          Consider offering joint sharing space in order to appeal to a certain customer.

–          Offer value added benefits for repeat business.

–          Assist exhibitors with guidance on ideas on how to expose their brand to the maximum at your event.



Businesses and business people have to make good use of their time and offering networking opportunities with likeminded people gets people talking. The feedback we have received from many of our clients over many of our events is that these opportunities are key to the value proposition that the event offers.  Examples of these would be to:

–          Invite key stakeholders to a round table discussion, this could be a breakfast or lunch event with a clear relevant theme put up for discussion.

–          Mix up exhibitors and buyers in an ‘out-of-the-event’ function where the atmosphere is more informal.

–          Offer an online site or an app where people can share ideas, comments and questions.

–          Arrange a speed-networking event onsite so that all stakeholders can meet outside of the normal progamme


Technology is key in many aspects of a successful event and again here it is important to be varied

–          Consider developing an App that can be used to stay in constant contact with all stakeholders involved in your event

–          Ensure the venue you choose for the event can offer the required internet connections for your clients

–          Offer as part of the varied packages, options on levels of technology available

–          Offer online diaries where all involved can keep track, request meetings and receive requests all on one platform


Communications are an integral part of the success of an event

–          Ensure regular e-communications with all potential stakeholders

–          Separate your messages to be relevant to certain segments. For example the message you give to exhibitors will be different to the message you want to convey to your potential and signed up visitors

–          Use a variety of platforms in which to communicate your messages.  Make use of effective business tools such as Linkedin and other forms of social media.  Communicate through regular e-newsletters, and website updates.  Ensure your messaging is spread throughout all relevant trade publications

Make sure your teams are available 365 24/7 to answer questions and give out information to your customers.

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Taking place in Cape Town, South Africa, nearly 5000 travel industry professionals attend Africa’s leading and only business to business (B2B) exhibition for inbound and outbound Africa travel and tourism markets.

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