Houston Travel Marketing Services launched their SPOTLIGHT ON AFRICA workshops (roadshows) in October 2000 in order to provide the African tourism industry with a cost effective and professionally organized forum to conduct business with the South African Travel Trade.

Using our up-to-date databases of travel agents, tour operators and corporate travellers we have been successful in ensuring excellent attendances of key buyers at these workshops.

Background and History

I started the Spotlight Workshop concept in 2000 to assist the Tourism community in the rest of Africa to gain a foothold in the South African Outbound market. I saw a great need to introduce them to the major Travel agents and Tour operators to allow them to network and create business opportunities. At the same time there was tremendous shortfall in information on the tourism potential of Africa within the South African travel industry and of course the perception that it is unsafe to travel into Africa.

For their part many Hotel groups and Tour operators in Africa did not realize the potential of the South African outbound market and viewed the American and European markets are more important and profitable. Events over the past five years has shown them that the international market can be very fickle whilst the South African market has shown to be more stable and less affected by incidents and security concerns etc..

The basic principle of Spotlight is to invite a diverse range of tourism organizations from all over Africa and take them on a one week roadshow around South Africa to meet Travel agents, Tour operators, incentive travel companies, Professional Conference organisers and corporate travel buyers in each centre.

This formula seems to have worked very well judging by the reaction of the South African travel trade who enthusiastically attend each Spotlight workshop series and our Track record speaks for itself! The travel trade are always happy with wide cross-section of countries in Africa and diversity that comes with it!

From the exhibitors perspective, the fact that we are usually fully booked within a week of announcing the workshop dates & venues is testimony to the fact that feel the workshops are an ideal & cost effective platform for them to meet new potential clients and renew ties with existing clients.

In recent years I have reversed and mixed the concept and am now taking Southern African companies into Africa so that they can tap the outbound potential of African countries. I am also now promoting domestic travel and concentrate on mainly South African organizations to promote to the internal market. My Workshops in Kenya & Tanzania have been phenomenally successful in educating the travel trade in these countries about Southern Africa.

In 2005 I plan to have more workshops in different areas of Africa….and now Spotlight On Africa moves Overseas! …Our first international Spotlight On Africa workshop took place in Ireland in November 2004 and was very well received by the African exhibitors as all vacancies were sold out in 3 days!! As far as attendance at the workshops goes the response was good from the Irish travel trade, particularly in Dublin and with the fantastic prizes that the exhibitors collaborated together the trade where very enthusiastic and all said they would return to workshops of this nature in the future! We are also planning further UK and European workshops in 2005 and are expecting great success – Watch this Space!!

Winning Formula

We believe that we have now developed a WINNING FORMULA for the workshops by:

  • Ensuring that we have an interesting mix of exhibitors from a range of different countries and an equal spread of representation by different types of tourism operations (i.e. hotels, tour operators, lodges, car hire etc)
  • Attracting the right mix of buyers to attend. We do not only concentrate on travel agents, but also invite tour operators, wholesalers, Incentive travel companies, professional conference organisers and corporates (frequent flyers and travel planners.) This ensures that the exhibitors meet the widest possible range of companies during their visit to South Africa.
  • Intensive promotion to create maximum awareness of the workshops. Using trade advertising, fax mail, email broadcasts, telemarketing and direct mail we ensure that everyone in the travel industry is aware of the workshops.
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