From the floor: the verdict on Indaba 2016

1. Brett Gehren, Isibindi Africa

The general sentiment towards Africa…
The market is very buoyant at the moment and we’ve been very busy. South Africa is still the flavour of the month. 

Verdict on Indaba 2016…
It’s been disappointing. We were expecting the show to be better and busier this year. There are too many shows and buyers are having to make a choice in terms of which ones they go to.

What would bring you back next year…
We are here to do business. As a 100% private-owned company, we have to pay a lot of money to be here. We want to see new feet through the door. I’d also like to see less arbitrary stands like municipalities exhibiting – perhaps they should consider a non-commercial area where these exhibitors can all be located. 

2. Ute Latzke, Wilderness Safaris

Verdict on Indaba 2016…
There aren’t a lot of new buyers – I’d say 95% of my meetings have been with existing clients. We focus on our marketing strategy plans during this show. From my perspective, there were a lot of European clients that kept me busy. People still like this show – some of the others are very structured and pressured, but Indaba has a more relaxed environment which gives us more time to meet. 

What would bring you back next year…
Indaba is all about networking and this is the the one time we get to see all our friends in the industry. It’s an opportunity to build long-term relationships with not just buyers, but product as well. It’s all about that “warm and fuzzy” feeling and it’s my hope that the show won’t disintegrate. 

3. Ross Kata, Expedia

Verdict on Indaba 2016…
With Indaba, what you put in is what you get out. If you have a focused goal, you’ll get what you want from this show. What we wanted was to acquire lots of new properties, which is what we achieved. 

What would bring you back next year…
I would like everyone to cut all the negativity – just take a decision and go with it. The floor is busy, people are excited and want to do business. Certain people are trying to create the wrong perception of the show which creates negativity. The reality is that all the relevant people are here – the ones who are able to make important business decisions. 

4. Martin Botha, Tourvest Destination Management

The general sentiment towards Africa…
People are excited about travel to Africa, compared to the rest of the world. Aside from the exchange rate, the safety of the destination is also in our favour. However, availability is an ongoing battle – the Cape Town hotels currently under construction are only coming on stream in a couple of years.

Verdict on Indaba 2016…
Indaba has been very quiet, and I don’t buy into the quality over quantity argument. There has been a flatness to this year’s show. 

What would bring you back next year…
The other shows are a major concern, so Indaba better reinvent itself. 

5. Nigel Crofton, Outposts

The general sentiment towards Africa…
The general sentiment is good compared to last year – and Southern Africa is doing particularly well. In terms of the UK market, dollar-based safaris are suffering due to the exchange rate. 

Verdict on Indaba 2016…
The show has been good. On one side it’s dying, but on the other it’s a unique show due to the range of interesting, new and exciting start-ups that are exhibiting. It’s the best place to discover upcoming, edgy and experiential products. 

6. Lance Smith, Avis Budget

The general sentiment towards Africa…
Safety keeps coming up as a positive and the general comment from the main operators is that Africa offers good value. The issues in East Africa have made South Africa more favourable as a game destination.

Verdict on Indaba 2016…
It’s been a lot quieter. People have lowered their investment in the show, but the meetings have all been good. Everyone is considering scaling down even further next year – unless the show is revamped. 

What would bring you back next year…
I’d like to see all the shows merged into one. A lot of operators have said that they can’t be here for all of them. SA Tourism needs to make up its mind in terms of who is going to run the show moving forward. While it would be sad for Durban to lose the show, it would be good for the country. 

7. Anita Foxcroft, Southern Spoor

The general sentiment towards Africa…
Everyone is showing renewed interest in different areas and different products. 

Verdict on Indaba 2016…
It is quieter, but the quality of meetings has been excellent. It’s very nice to still see all the top buyers here. 

What would bring you back next year…
The online diary system was a bit ‘hit-and-miss’ so that could be improved. We’d also like to know exactly what’s going to happen to the show in the future. 

8. Ruth Bassett and Chris Anagnostellis, An African Anthology

The general sentiment towards Africa…
Africa is booming and 2018 looks like it’s going to be even better. The exchange rate and political instability in a number of countries is working in our favour. We are maturing as a destination and upping the game on our side.  

Verdict on Indaba 2016…
Saturday was quiet but Sunday was busy. The corridors were quieter which is due to the impact of the other shows, but we have still seen quality buyers coming in. There is definitely a shift in the dynamics of trade shows when it comes to Cape Town vs Durban. 

9. Glenn McKeag, Springbok Atlas

The general sentiment towards Africa…
Every person we have seen has been positive about South Africa as a destination and the exchange rate. 

Verdict on Indaba 2016…
There are less people in the passages but the selection of buyers has been good. There has been a nice selection of new clients – even from existing markets – and not just the same people we see every year. All our core markets have been well represented – America, Europe and Australasia. Condensing it into three days has made the show much more focused and busier. We only had one no-show this year. 

What would bring you back next year…
We have a long history with Indaba – Springbok Atlas was the first company to exhibit at Indaba when it was still at Nasrec. We are waiting in anticipation to hear what will be done differently next year. We would support the combining of WTM Africa and Indaba. 

10. Peter Dros, Fancourt

The general sentiment towards Africa…
Business is up and the rate of exchange is really helping us. There are a few markets where business isn’t really happening at the moment, like Brazil and the rest of South America, as well as Belgium, but there is really strong growth elsewhere. 

What would bring you back next year…
We are all here to see buyers and the governing body needs to facilitate this better. We are particularly concerned about domestic buyers being co-opted as international buyers.

11. Julien Janssen, Thompsons Africa

Verdict on Indaba 2016…
The quality of hosted buyers has been exceptional and the structure and organisation of the show is excellent. I still think Indaba belongs in Durban. However, there are far too many shows in South Africa, especially when one takes the timings into consideration. 

What would bring you back next year…
Improvements could be made to the matchmaking programme so that hosted buyers and others using the system understand it better. 

12. Sebastien Benning, Meikles

The general sentiment towards Africa…
Vic Falls is doing great – there has been an extraordinary amount of interest in the destination. 

What would bring you back next year…
It would be great if regional suppliers could have more input as there are a lot of SA suppliers in the ICC. This may have been the case in the DEC. Also, the food trucks were good, but the show could do with a few more next year. 

13. Peggylou Arbizu Pickles, New Frontiers

The general sentiment towards Africa…
The exchange rate and safety concerns elsewhere, including the Zika virus and terrorism, have worked in our favour. Before, we were perceived as dangerous, but now it’s the opposite! 

Verdict on Indaba 2016…
We’ve been extremely busy – the show has been pumping and we haven’t stopped for a second! 

What would bring you back next year…
Better food, as well as a list of the visitors attending the show (not on the matchmaker). Otherwise, we have no complaints. 

14. Ophelia Benjamin, aha

The general sentiment towards Africa…
There is still a lot of excitement around Africa. Countries like the USA are positive for a 2017/2018 turnaround, while the Germans are showing constant growth. There’s a lot of interest in SA, but also Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. 

What would bring you back next year…
I’d like to see new hosted buyers. After all the other shows, by the time they get to Indaba the big decisions have already been made and Indaba just closes the gap. 

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