Tag Archives: South Africa

Tighter budgets and rising costs mean the business events sector is working harder to win work. Marissa Fernandez, managing director of widely respected company Destination Marketing Services (DMS), offers this salutary advice to incentive and events planners.

1. Is it good value – and different? When selecting a destination, consider: does it offer good value for money and quality service, and is there a strong point of difference when you compare it to where the previous conference or incentive event was held?

Downtown Dubai2. Have they ever done anything like this before? Seek to create an experience that’s superior to what people in the group would have experienced in their own travels. It should obviously serve to encourage and motivate participants to continue working hard so they can enjoy similar rewards again.

3. Don’t sacrifice quality for cost. In the current, increasingly competitive market, many incentive agents are having to tender for business against their competition. With this type of bidding process, a key criterion is the cost of the program. Incentive agents are often judged on bottom-line figures, so we’re seeing more and more programs designed to be as cost-effective as possible, and competition on all levels is becoming more fierce. This is a positive change in many ways, because it keeps businesses sharper and makes them work harder to turn out the best possible program to win business.But it does create challenges when designing the best incentive experience – putting pressure on the MICE agent to cut budgets to the bone while retaining the incentive elements that make a program distinctive.

4. Plan ahead. Pre-planning is key to ensuring you always get the best deal. Timing plays a huge part in pricing. This is one area in which a destination management company (DMC) can play an essential role, thanks to their buying power. Well-established DMCs supply business to venues and hotels around the globe so they’re able to negotiate very competitive pricing via bulk buying.

Istanbul Old Town5. Consider Asia, South Africa and Europe. Look to countries that offer the best value for money for meetings and events. Asia, with its proximity and great service levels, will always be well suited to MICE clients from Australia. And with the Australian dollar strong against the rand, South Africa is now more affordable than ever. Though the Aussie dollar has declined against the US greenback, it remains quite stable against the euro and this is still helping to push business towards Europe.

6. Embrace the ‘unknown’. Organisers and their delegates should remember that while past experiences certainly count, the world is forever evolving so it pays to keep an open mind and explore the unknown. Destinations such as South Korea, Croatia and the Philippines have developed into dynamic destinations for conference and incentive travel. These are often not considered, because of unfamiliarity or experiences from 20 years ago. Good companies will maintain quality while offering value, and have the vision to source and propose new destinations and ideas. They’ll not only adapt to changes in the global marketplace, they’ll respond with innovative offerings.

7. Follow the new airline routes. Airline access and routing are affecting trends in the marketplace and opening up new opportunities. For example the collaboration between Emirates and Qantas has strengthened travel to Europe with stopovers in the Middle East. New direct air services to Sri Lanka start in November and major hotel chains are investing heavily in this destination. This has already sparked a rise in interest in this new incentive location.


Marissa Fernandez joined Destination Marketing Services in 2005 and became owner of the company on 1 October 2013, taking over from founder and industry veteran Leila Bishara (formerly Fiedler). As managing director, Marissa prioritises high standards of customer service and ethical practice in her team. Her background spans more than 20 years in tourism and hospitality, and she has worked for multinational organisations in Australia and overseas.

Email: marissa@destinationmarketing.com.au

Web: www.destinationmarketing.com.au

Marissa Corp pics-29

Leaving aside clichés about stunning vistas and vibrant cultural diversity, why should events organisers in Australia and elsewhere consider South Africa as a destination? Isn’t it, well, dangerous?

“Pure and simple, it’s a value-for-money destination,” says Yolanda Woeke-Jacobs, Director Sales & Marketing of destination management company Dragonfly. “You get great bang for your buck.”

Inside the Table Bay Hotel

Inside the Table Bay Hotel

Indeed you currently get 9.8 rands for an Australian buck, which means, for example, that a fillet steak at the swanky Harbour House restaurant at Cape Town’s Victoria and Albert waterfront will set Australian visitors back about $17. And that’s really top-end. At the very pleasant Peninsula Hotel restaurant in the same city, a main course will cost R60 to R80 (AUD 6-8). In most restaurants a bottle of excellent local red retails for $5 to $8.

As an incentive destination, South Africa is an obvious choice, Yolanda says, because the motivation factor is “huge . . . it’s on everyone’s bucket list.”

Yes, but what about security? Don’t South Africans often skirt, or fail to address, this issue, which genuinely worries many would-be MICE visitors?

Palace aerial newDragonfly’s message is you’ll be perfectly safe as long as you take basic precautions – just as you would if you visited, say, New York or Barcelona.

“Security’s a problem in any big city nowadays, so we recommend people be alert and not go into areas that are unsuitable for tourists, or after dark,” says Yolanda.

She and her colleagues never take guests into areas in which they’ll be in any peril. They host and look after thousands of visitors every year and have never had an incident, she says.

“Bear in mind tourism is one of our country’s biggest industries and sources of income, so we need to ensure tourists are looked after. We’ve been operating for over 30 years so we understand the destination, the culture and the Australian ‘MICE’ client’s expectations.”

$2,335 for a five-day package including Cape Town and Lost City

For AUD2,335 per person sharing, Dragonfly will set incentive visitors up for three nights at the Table Bay Hotel in Cape Town, and two nights at the Palace of the Lost City Hotel at Sun City, two-and-a-half hours’ drive from Johannesburg – both super-luxurious. (And there’s an option to extend the trip for a two-day visit to the Royal Livingstone Hotel at Victoria Falls.)

This package, one of many, includes transfers, cocktail functions, dinners and other meals with a specified drinks allowance, tours, safaris, meet-and-assists, gratuities and more. The rate is based on 40 participants sharing and is valid until 30 November 2014.



'Palace of the Lost City' room

‘Palace of the Lost City’ room