Making the most of Africa’s Travel Indaba can be a daunting task for any buyer or exhibitor. With 20 000 sqm of floor space and two venues in the International Convention Centre and Durban Exhibition Centre to explore, one needs to know who to speak to and when. While the online diary is of help, doing your homework on your clients and competition is the key to unlocking the best of your Indaba experience.

According to Chris Mears, CEO of ATTA: “The key with Indaba, and any trade show, is ensuring you do the work beforehand, knowing and understanding who you’re going to meet with and understanding what they’re actually looking for. There’s no point going to a show and expecting to attract visitors who are just going to walk past. You’ve got to work the appointment system, you’ve got to work the diaries, you’ve got to do the research on the people that you’re going to be meeting, and understanding exactly what it is they’re looking for. I always say that the show is actually only 10% of the work and the remaining 90% of the work comes in before the show and after the show.”

Christiaan Steyn, Marketing Manager at Drifters Adventours, agrees with this assessment. “Meetings are important. Have pre-set-up meetings with people who are actually interested in your product, so use the online portal, making sure it’s a good fit for your company or a potentially good fit for your company and your product, and then get the meetings to actually have time to talk to the agents. That’s key to Indaba or otherwise you waste your time.”

Don’t forget the diary

Help is at hand, though, in the form of the online diary provided by Africa’s Travel Indaba to those registered as buyers and exhibitors. In fact, effective use of the diary is key to maximising one’s Indaba experience. It’s available to both registered buyers and exhibitors, and enables exhibitors and buyers to schedule specific meetings with each other during the show.

As Amanda Kotze-Nhlapo, the Chief Convention Bureau Officer of Indaba, explains: “I think the first thing you need to make sure of is that you are registered as a buyer or exhibitor so you can have access to the diary and then also take time to go through the exhibitors and the requests that come from exhibitors, because, at the end of the day, the show can only be successful if you have good buyers and good exhibitors, because that’s when magic happens.”

Steyn also emphasises the importance of using the online portal to set up meetings with prospective buyers. “I suppose that the most important thing at Indaba is to schedule your meetings upfront by priority of hosted buyers. You then have access to email requests and to set up meetings, because, unfortunately, the numbers are declining year on year, which means normal people or buyers walking by that we’d pick up in the past and have a chat to are declining.”