A dynamic new voice for exhibition organisers has made the industry sit up and take notice

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On Wednesday the 10th of February 2016, the Association of African Exhibition Organisers was officially launched to an enthusiastic crowd of over 230 people at the Indaba Hotel, Spa & Conference Centre in Johannesburg. The launch gave attendees from various sectors of the exhibition industry – including exhibitors, service providers, organisers, industry stakeholders and media – an overview of how AAXO is helping to transform the exhibition space in South Africa and more broadly across Africa. AAXO’s future plans, as well as results of recently commissioned market research, were also announced.

The launch event followed a highly successful Training Day event hosted by AAXO for exhibition organisers on the topic of digital marketing. The day contained a number of sessions presented by industry experts guiding delegates on how to create and implement a high-impact digital marketing strategy. For those who were unable to attend, the presentations given on the day can also be accessed on the AAXO website at www.aaxo.co.za

At 15:00, AAXO made its first official debut at the launch function. AAXO’s mandate – to provide professional and credible representation for exhibition organisers, in order to contribute to a profitable industry – was highlighted, as well as AAXO’s progress to date, which includes previous exhibitor training day, the formation of strategic partnerships with local and international industry heavyweights and the commission of up-to-date industry research through Grant Thornton, which will serve as a resource for the exhibition community.

The numerous benefits of AAXO membership were also discussed, some of which include: VAT exemption or reduction for international exhibitors; an AAXO-approved badge for members which is a recognisable symbol of the credibility and quality of an exhibition; the Audit Bureau of Circulations’ show audits which validate attendance figures at events; and accessing information, research and resources specific to Africa. Other benefits include mediation services for members, training opportunities and negotiated supplier discounts. The next AAXO training day is also an exciting opportunity for members to learn how best to measure return on investment for exhibitions. A full list of benefits can be located on the AAXO website at www.aaxo.co.za

A synopsis of the results of the commissioned research was also announced at the launch. The research was highly positive and indicated the significance of events on the economy, the growth of the industry and of the growth of events in the past decade alone, and what can be learnt from the most successful new exhibitions that have entered the market in recent years. According to Gillian Saunders, Principal & Head of Advisory Services at Grant Thornton, “This research puts the current climate in the industry into perspective, and highlights challenges and opportunities. The industry continues to grow although exhibitors are reigning in expenditure and economising on spend where possible, and there is a keen attention to return on investment. Consumers also have a host of competitive leisure time pursuits competing for their time and money.” She adds, “Organisers will need to innovate to create value and add experiential elements, as well as maximise use of technology to continue to triumph in the space; creating an exhibitor and visitor win:win where each party delights the other.”

Carol Weaving, Chairperson of AAXO, is very pleased at the success of the launch and what the future holds for AAXO. “In the short time that AAXO has been active, we have made some very relevant contributions to the industry and created value for our members and exhibition organisers in general. We look forward to an even more exciting year in 2016 and encourage all organisers to sign up for AAXO membership to take advantage of the enormous range of benefits that AAXO has to offer.”

For more information on AAXO visit www.aaxo.co.za or contact Cindy Wandrag on 011 549 8300 or info@aaxo.co.za. For membership inquiries, including a full list of membership benefits and information on how to join, contact membership@aaxo.co.za

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