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Unusual MICE venues and locations that will be trending in Africa in 2019

Henk Graaff, MD SW Africa lists five unique and inspirational locales that will be trending in the MICE industry in Africa in 2019 and that perfectly fit the bill of ‘experiential’ venues.

Corporate event organisers have always been on the lookout for unique, interesting and memorable meeting venues. 2019 will be no different. What will change however, is that event organisers will look for more ‘experiential’ events that will leave a lasting impression on their delegates. 

“Venues will not only need to inspire creativity and collaborative working, they will also need to encourage attendees to think and act differently even after they go back to home to the office,” says Henk Graaff, MD SW Africa

Graaff lists five unique and inspirational locales that will be trending in the MICE industry in Africa in 2019 and that perfectly fit the bill of ‘experiential’ venues:

Be inspired by African Art at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA)
The Zeitz MOCAA is the largest art museum in Africa, and the largest museum in the world showcasing the art of Africa and its diaspora. The museum has become a hot venue for anyone wanting to host a remarkable event. 

The museum’s structure incorporates Cape Town’s historic Grain Silos. These silos once processed hundreds of thousands of tons of grains, but now boasts a 9 500m2 custom-designed area, expanding over nine floors as well as two magnificent venues – the Atrium and the Venue on Level Six. 

Workers used to move through the building using a series of man elevators and fireman’s poles. Now, visitors move through the museum levels in remarkable glass elevators. 

The Atrium, which is at the heart of the museum, is an exceptional space for arrival drinks and canapés. Cathedral-like, it rises 33m high, carved out of the original silo bins, and is an architectural wonder.

The Venue on floor six, a multifunctional event space, looks out onto the museum’s rooftop sculpture garden. It truly is a breath-taking event venue which can accommodate up to 200 guests with a 270-degree view of Cape Town, and possibly the best view of Table Mountain in the city.

Take a trip down memory lane on the Blue Train
The Blue Train is world-famous for its luxury style of rail safari, and will also be tapping into the MICE market in 2019. 

This iconic train recently launched a new brand repositioning under the slogan Surrender to the Luxury of Slow. The repositioning anchors the Blue Train as an experience not only for luxury travellers, but for the discerning business traveller too through the inclusion of an all-new MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events) offering.

Businesses can hire the train for private charters around Pretoria on ‘A Trip to Nowhere,’ on the Pretoria to Sun City route, on the Pretoria to Durban route, the main route which is Pretoria to Cape Town, and other destinations within South Africa’s rail network.

Vincent Monyake, The Blue Train’s executive manager in his welcome note at the launch said: "The repositioning was a confluence of many things: appreciating the zeitgeist of our time as captured in the experience economy, listening to our guests’ and clients’ feedback after boarding The Blue Train, and aligning internally with our operations.”

MICE travellers will enjoy the gourmet food; the fine liquors and handmade cigars available in the Club Car; the versatile Observation Car that doubles up as a boardroom and as the dance floor for business events, and where needed, the De Luxe and Luxury Suites with all-round butler services.

A tailormade venue in the middle of the wilderness
Although not suitable for large conferences, a mobile tented camp set up exclusively for your event in the middle of the African wilderness definitely carries an unforgettable WOW factor. 

Truly mobile and completely bespoke, it is possible to create the ultimate luxury in the most extraordinarily beautiful and remote locations in Africa. Graaff explains delegates can expect delicious freshly prepared meals, luxurious linen, electric blankets, campfire ambience, out-of-the-box thinking and a home away from home.

Says Graaff: “The partners with whom we work help us tailor-make any event based on location, climate, duration, level of luxury and budget. There are very few things that can’t be done.”

The smoke that thunders
New airline connections have made Victoria Falls more accessible to MICE delegates than ever before. This exciting MICE destination has a great number of team building opportunities. While witnessing the majesty of the “smoke that thunders”, delegates can bungee jump, zip line, white river raft, canoe and game drive their way around this activity hub. This is an African adventure at its best, with all the necessary safety regulations, conferencing facilities and the infrastructure to boot.

If you want to break away from the stuffy indoor meeting rooms, the Zambezi Explorer offers a fresh and innovative alternative with fresh air, natural light and a backdrop that just can’t be beaten. 

Uganda or Rwanda? There’s no wrong choice
Rwanda has been hard at work to position itself as a MICE destination of choice. Clare Akamanzi, Rwanda Development Board Chief Executive Officer, recently said Rwanda aimed to increase its MICE receipts to US$74-million in 2018 alone, up from US$42-million in 2017.

Both Uganda and Rwanda have indicated the countries are keen to explore the MICE market further. According to Graaff, you can go wrong in your choice as both Rwanda and Uganda offer unique products and services for MICE travellers and buyers, with the possibility to experience a trip to the Mountain Gorillas a favourite programme highlight.

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She holds a Bachelor's degree in Communication & Mass Media from Panteion University of Political & Social Studies of Athens and she has been editor and editor-in-chief in various economic magazines and newspapers.