South Africa: Virtual technology offers hope to events industry during COVID-19

While the moratorium on large events and gatherings imposed by COVID-19 has wreaked havoc with the multi-million rand events industry in South Africa, a virtual exhibition software offers some hope. 

Inkanyezi Events, a Port Elizabeth-based marketing company has partnered with a local technology start-up in South Africa to create virtual exhibition software, which, according to Inkanyezi CEO, Andrew Binning, is receiving “intense global interest”.

“I have had meetings with organizers of events across the globe, including from Myanmar, Indonesia, India, Malaysia, China, Russia, and Brazil, among others who are looking for a virtual exhibition solution that is interactive, 3D, and provides a visitor experience,” says Binning.

Binning, the South African representative on the BRICS & Emerging Markets on the MICE Co-operation Forum, says the software platform which allows for gameplay like functionality and interaction would be piloted at three upcoming Inkanyezi managed events.

These are the 260 exhibitor strong Eastern Cape Virtual Exhibition on July 23 and 24, the Working World Careers Expo from August 12-14, and the International Personal Protective Equipment Expo from August 25-28.

The Working World Careers expo, one of the largest careers fairs in Africa, has been run for the past 21 years but was placed in jeopardy by lock-down regulations this year spiking concerns that the Class of 2020 would not get access to essential career resources.

The Working World Careers expo, one of the largest careers fairs in Africa, has been run for the past 21 years but was placed in jeopardy by lock-down regulations this year.

Binning, however,  says that the virtual technology solution would ensure that the event will continue this year, despite the prohibition on public gatherings.

The virtual nature of the platform means that visitors are not restricted by the limitations of venue capacity, parking, and geographic distance, or health or safety regulations, which means virtual technology holds many benefits.

Virtual visitors, once they have downloaded the app, explains Binning, are able to live voice or text chat with exhibiting organizations, view company videos, download brochures, and experience traditional features of an exhibition like seminars or workshops.

It is estimated that around 10 000 visitors attend the traditional Working World Careers expo annually and benefit from its resources.

“We are working with schools to ensure that they now can access all the functionality of the expo without leaving their classrooms, explains Benning. “We think that we could reach record visitor numbers this year”.