New venues and refurbishments

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A snapshot of new and recently refurbished conference and events venues shows a move towards modernisation and versatility. Susan Reynard reports.

Conferencing business is distressed in this current market, with many businesses cutting back and conferencing in-house rather than offsite. Competition has also increased, with most of the new buildings in the business node of Sandton, Johannesburg in particular featuring their own conference facilities. For these reasons, says Robert Hodson, general manager of marketing and sales for Legacy Hotels and Resorts, there is a greater need to innovate.

“Legacy Hotels and Resorts’ approach to the conference market has changed as there is a need to make the client’s life easier and the entire experience seamless,” explains Robert. “We have had to innovate and change the offering to be unique in what we do: Be Healthy breaks, different lunches, activities, snacks, set-ups etc. To achieve this we needed to find an innovator and brought in a team member from the corporate world to have a look at the offerings, tweak them, enhance them and put together itineraries for conference incentive groups and coordinate with the PCOs to create events and conference experiences of a lifetime. Bottom line is that we had to become innovators in a world that moves at high pace. Wi-Fi is also a huge initiative of ours, with nine of our corporate properties offering unlimited free Wi-Fi.”

Hodson says they have seen the positive results of this approach with the DAVINCI Hotel and Suites in Sandton, Johannesburg. Its new Sophia facility, built at a cost of just over R1-million, was developed to accommodate groups of up to 120 pax and launched in late 2015, with business starting to flow through in early 2016. This complements the existing main banquet room, which can be subdivided into two rooms, Leonardo 1 and 2 accommodating 80 pax each, and the Mona Lisa boardroom, which caters for smaller conferences or meetings of up to 12 pax. “Sophia is a great venue with large mirrors and décor in keeping with the DAVINCI,” he adds.

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