Eastern Cape-based events organising company Inkanyezi Event Organisers has created the Global Partner Network, a group of leading event managers and trade facilitation leaders who will jointly organise several international business exhibitions and trade shows this year.
Inkanyezi CEO Andrew Binning states that the network was formed to encourage global cooperation on several issues pertaining to hosting business exhibition events and trade shows, particularly given the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The partners – convened by Inkanyezi Event Organisers – have committed to creating a “unique value proposition for businesses and governments that seek to optimise intercontinental trade”, Binning highlights.
“The network creates synergy that is worth more than the sum of the individual parts. Working together, the network is able to mobilise sellers and buyers in their home countries more effectively than a single organiser of an international event,” he explains.
He adds that, owing to Inkanyezi’s regular representation of the South African industry in the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, or Brics, trade bloc and other emerging market meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) cooperation forum, it has been able to develop partnerships with organisations from a range of countries.
Binning believes that this will be beneficial to the global partner network.
Many national and international business exhibition events and trade shows have had to host events virtually, owing to Covid-19, he notes.
This provides an opportunity for these virtual events to host an international audience, as well as for event-related organisations to collaborate internationally through the network.
Organisations involved in Global Partner Network are based in countries such as Pakistan, India, Indonesia, China, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Poland, Greece, Mexico, Brazil, Ghana, Rwanda, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Iran, Turkey and Russia.
“We’ve intentionally approached emerging-market contacts, rather than more developed and traditional markets, as we believe first-world countries are more advanced and already have the resources to host exclusively virtual events. Developing markets are, however, looking to grow together in this sector,” Binning elaborates.
The Global Partner Network is organising four virtual events for this year – the International Virtual Tourism Show (March 24 to 26), the International Virtual Medical Expo (March 11 to 13), the Global Studies Virtual Fair (July 21 to 23) and an International Import/Export Tradeshow (October 13 to 15).
Owing to the virtual nature of these events, a unique software platform that allows for “gameplay-like functionality and interaction” will be used.
This technology solution will allow for trade to continue through virtual events and exhibitions.
Virtual visitors on the platform can live chat with exhibiting organisations, view company videos, download brochures and participate in seminars and/or workshops.
Binning explains that the search for an optimal platform was done in collaboration with a local information technology company. The development began in March, with South Africa having entered Level 5 lockdown at the end of that month.
A general business event was hosted in July, while an education, career and skills development exhibition was hosted in August on the purpose-built platform, which has subsequently been replaced with a “better alternative”.
Binning says the early platform was restricted to certain devices and required users to download an app, issues which Binning says, proved problematic.
While Binning states that this platform and virtual events have been useful in supporting the global business exhibition events and trade shows industry, many organisations in the Global Partner Network would prefer to host live, in-person events.
However, the uncertainty regarding the way in which countries will be affected by the pandemic this year has resulted in these organisations’ preferring to host virtual events rather than none at all.
These organisations are also attempting to lobby the respective governments of their countries to get permission to host live events again.
“Most companies in this network will try to cover all bases. If we’re forced to go completely virtual, we have the capacity for that, and for hybrid-type events. If we get the go-ahead, we can try to organise live exhibitions in-person. Our strategy is to be prepared for all scenarios,” he concludes.