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South Africa: Difficult Times Require Creative Solutions

South Africa: Difficult Times Require Creative Solutions

Our World | On 26, Jun 2013

We have invited a series of guest bloggers from companies based outside of the UK to contribute to Our World and let us have their professional opinions on how the continued world recession is affecting them (and more importantly perhaps, how they are overcoming obstacles). I imagine it will prove what we already know, namely that our industry is ever creative in overcoming difficult trading conditions in order to thrive – Chris Clarke.

Below is the next instalment, this time from Brad Glenn, MD at The Inside Edge DMC, based in South Africa.

Creating “The Best of Times in the Worst of Times”

Wow, what a difference five years makes; in 2008 the business was flowing in and just about every programme wanted the proverbial “wow”, the “bells and whistles” and in some cases even more. In fact the only real challenge facing many DMC’s was how to deliver all of the business on the books operationally. In South Africa this situation lasted until the end of the FIFA World Cup in July 2010. Then with something of a thud we rejoined the real world.

As we all know budgets were slashed, costs scrutinised and then scrutinised again and a number of programmes were placed on hold indefinitely.

Adapt to survive

We had to adapt and quickly, this included an investment in upgraded technology that allowed us to streamline processes and we modernised our working environment with a complete overhaul of just about every single thing we did. Those which were identified as our strengths we maintained, others we reengineered and in some cases we discarded them completely (paper archives taking up 50 sqm of prime rental space being one of the standouts).

We looked at what our clients wanted; we noted a distinct move to hybrid events where incentives were designed with a greater degree of business focus. Value for money was key; we needed to deliver better cost effectiveness without compromising quality to a noticeable degree.

We explored new less traditional options for incentives, a couple of notable examples are the 70,000 hectare Madikwe Game Reserve which offers a game experience comparable with the very best at a vastly reduced price due to it having less of a “reputation” than some of the magnificent stalwarts in the region. In Cape Town, The Westin Grand and Tsogo Sun’s Cullinan hotel rose in prominence against the historic choices of between five or six top level incentive hotels in the city.

A wide range of CSR and Conservation projects were developed to offer bespoke experiences at affordable costs due to the crossover with community upliftment and environmental research.

We focused on activities where participants were immersed in an experience rather than mere observation with the intention of making this another key differentiator and way of adding value.

Health and Safety became a prominent feature rather than one of many components when designing programmes and embracing this opened a number of new opportunities and introduced us to new partners who have come to offer meaningful value and quality.

In short, recent times have not been easy but the challenge we were faced with certainly jolted us out of what in hindsight was a comfort zone. The attraction and value for money Southern Africa offers remains as strong as ever. With a completely revitalised business model and team we are well positioned to continue running spectacular events and most importantly on a consistent basis.