Events act as powerful brand elements for host destinations and the ideal is to become established as an event hub, with recurring events as part of a calendar to ensure sustainability in the increasingly competitive events tourism sector. This sector has been among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic; with lockdown restrictions bringing events to a standstill. The future landscape of events is set to change irrevocably with ‘hybrid’ and ‘event protocol’ becoming the norm. Event venues, owners and organisers will have to innovate and pull out all the stops to offer fulfilling experiences that meet attendee expectations.
Against this backdrop, the Tourism Management Honours and Postgraduate Diploma students of the Department of Marketing Management at the University of Pretoria partnered with Heartfelt Arena as a flagship events venue in the City of Tshwane. This partnership formed part of the exam project of the Destination Management module managed by Prof Elizabeth du Preez in the Tourism Management programme. The aim of the exam project was to bring to the stage creative, feasible event proposals that incorporate current event management trends along with the venue’s existing resources.
After an exciting first site visit and introduction to Heartfelt, the three student groups undertook background research on the venue’s operations, existing offerings as well as its place in the wider events offering of Tshwane. During the initial stage, each group pitched a number of ideas to the Heartfelt team who then selected the most appealing concept. With checklists in hand and creative juices flowing on the day of the exam presentations on 24 July 2021, the teams crafted away to present innovative, relevant events that not only fit the standards and quality already offered at Heartfelt, but that have potential to attract some new crowds.
The Heartfelt exam panel consisted of Caitlin van Aswegen (Operations Manager) and Karabo Malatji (Events Assistant). The Heartfelt exam panel commented that each team had its own unique flair and combined industry trends, practicalities and creativity with theory. Understandably, the curtain cannot be lifted here on the unique selling points... but audiences were captured by scenes that include jazzy vibes, local style, crafty gins, augmented reality, lifelong learning made fun and another trick or two. In the end, the best Tourism Management team was Team “Carfluential”. This team impressed with their unique event proposal that merged social media influencers with a luxury car exhibition. They effectively captured a 'wow factor' and achieved a balance between the event idea and implementation; focusing on the characteristics of Heartfelt as an events venue.
Below are pictures of the three student groups on the day of the exam presentations:
Team Carfluential – the winning team (from left to right): Marco Schroder, Tshehofatso Shaku, Caitlin van Aswegen (Heartfelt), Karabo Malatji (Heartfelt), Lehlohonolo Mlotshwa, Nobuhle Dashe and Singita Chauke
Team Jazz @ the Market (from left to right): Karabo Malatji (Heartfelt), Prof Elizabeth du Preez, Caitlin van Aswegen (Heartfelt), Caitlin Lindsell, Qiniso Phungula, Hannelize Schnepel, Nina Sieber (in absentia Michelle Bester)
CPD @ Heartfelt (from left to right): Caitlin van Aswegen (Heartfelt), Karabo Malatji (Heartfelt), Nina Sieber, Lauren Parlabean and Dehan Reynders (in absentia Monique Adlem)
After a successful project, the Tourism Management students confirmed that they are now more aware of the challenges faced by host destinations to offer a variety of complementary events. They also realise that innovative attendee experiences should be built around viable business models, utilisation of existing resources and multiple income streams for venues as well as event organisers.
It goes without saying that we fully support the events industry in our City, but also across South Africa in their call to #TrustUs in reopening events as part of #TourismRecovery.