All about Meetings Africa 2015

  • 26 February 2015 | Cassidy Parker
The Welcome South Africa team at their welcoming best (and playing the fool a bit, too)

It was an eventful few days at Meetings Africa 2015, where African associations and industry professionals met to showcase their services and products, and to discuss ways in which they can partner to transform the continent.

Organisations from across the tourism and travel space were present, from national, provincial and local tourism authorities, to convention and visitor bureaus, hotels and accommodation providers, destination management companies, event management specialists, transportation companies, and various attractions.

The Welcome South Africa team had a couple of exciting activations on the go, all of which demonstrated South Africa's warmth and hospitality to local and foreign delegates and visitors alike. Our approach was to get back to the basics of being welcoming by greeting people with an engaging smile, offering useful advice, and providing practical services wherever we could.

Nothing says 'Welcome' like a warm smile

Our concierge team greeted guests on arrival, and our shoeshine guys made sure that they looked their best before heading on into the venue. Inside, we had expert coffee-makers to keep visitors full of beans, a handy cellphone-charging station, and someone handing out cloths to keep glasses clean. There were also Welcome representatives in the ladies' bathrooms, offering liquid soap, hand lotion and perfume to help freshen up after a stressful day.

'I had no idea the tourism industry was so big,' said Marcelle Bowers, who helped to serve much-needed coffee at the event. 'It's incredible to see how many people are involved. It makes you appreciate how important it is to be as friendly and welcoming as you can.'

Thuli and Marcelle were on hand with fresh cups of coffee

Hamilton dished out glasses cloths next to the cellphone-charging station

The handy cellphone-charging station

Naomi and Winnie were there to help the ladies freshen up

Of course, the Welcome South Africa team weren't the only ones being welcoming. It was wonderful to see how many people were naturally friendly, engaging and sincere in their interactions as they sought to develop tourism on the African continent. Indeed, Welcome South Africa handed out an iPad Mini to Trish Mambinge from Shearwater Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, simply for being so welcoming and making the day of so many Meetings Africa delegates.

'I was so surprised, but excited at the same time,' said Trish. 'Sometimes you provide a service without knowing people are looking.'

As far as we're concerned, when you're being helpful and friendly simply because it's in your nature, well, that's hospitality at its best.

Trish Mambinge receives an iPad Mini from Welcome South Africa's Aneshree Rambally (left)