There is no doubt that 2020 has been a challenging year filled with more obstacles than any of us could have ever imagined! Due to the extra pressure and the many setbacks experienced, Carol Weaving, MD Reed Exhibitions Africa, is extremely proud of the fact that Africa Travel Week has still managed to rack up a host of notable achievements over the course of the past 10 months.
While we were saddened to postpone our live shows until 2021, we have continued working tirelessly to provide our followers with up-to-date information and support within the realms of leisure and business travel. The only difference is that we have done so through an array of new, innovative approaches.
ATW went digital
The postponement of our live shows propelled us to find new ways of reaching and engaging with our partners. As a result, we embraced the digital realm and created Africa Travel Week Connect. We have populated this platform with insightful webinars and many interesting sections to explore, including our ‘Armchair Travel’ section, which showcases the beauty of Africa and our exhibitors’ incredible destinations and products. There is also the opportunity to enjoy the ‘Travel with Me’ series where thought leaders share experiences and tips that are relevant to our current reality.
As part of optimising our new digital offering, we also decided to seek additional support in the form of a PR agency with a niche focus on the travel industry. This led to us partnering with Big Ambitions, a specialist content, communications and marketing company that has helped us breathe life into our content and our platform. We look forward to continuing this partnership into the future.
The launch of ATW #INTHEKNOW series
The #INTHEKNOW series is geared towards providing short and sharp guidelines for travel businesses via the ATW Connect platform. The series was developed as a solution to help fight the webinar fatigue that so many of us are experiencing after spending months in lockdown. Instead of sitting glued to the screen for hours on end, the ‘episodes’ within the series are all roughly 40 minutes in length and are jam-packed with practical tips and actionable advice.
Since early May, we have run five #INTHEKNOW episodes, all of which have garnered great success. Interested parties can view the recaps here.
Our highly anticipated virtual masterclasses kicked off in September and revolved around educating viewers on important industry-relevant topics, with discussions led by 16 respected industry experts. The primary focus of these masterclasses was on re-evaluating marketing channels and appealing to the post-COVID traveller within various segments including luxury, LGBTQ+, and the African Diaspora. With over 1000 registrants, we were blown away by the levels of attendee engagement.
The masterclass recordings can be accessed via ATW Connect here.
ATW joins forces with Invest Africa
With the goal of driving business opportunities within the travel and tourism sector, Africa Travel Week jumped at the opportunity to partner with Invest Africa, a leading pan-African business platform promoting trade and investment in Africa. Invest Africa maintains a global footprint of more than 400 member companies, comprising multinationals, private equity firms, institutional investors, and more.
We have high hopes that this strategic partnership will enable stakeholders to drive investment initiatives for economic recovery and development during the African Tourism Investment Summit (ATIS), which is set to take place from 7 – 9 April 2021 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC). The event will run alongside World Travel Market Africa (WTM Africa), ATW’s flagship B2B travel trade show.
The #UnlockAfrica campaign
Africa Travel Week also recently launched the #UnlockAfrica campaign in an effort to inspire Africans to rediscover their roots and explore the beauty of our continent, all the while nurturing a sense of ‘us’ within the travel industry during such uncertain times. The campaign urges travel and tourism professionals to submit their feel-good stories to showcase the best that the continent has to offer. The goal is to share 50 positive news stories across our platforms over a period of 50 days, starting from 1 November 2020. All of these stories will eventually be curated on ATW Connect.
From a successful first guest stay to a funny staff story or an enthusiastic review, the team at Africa Travel Week is looking for anything uplifting and positive from tour guides, operators, travel agents, airlines, hotels, lodges and accommodation groups. It is all about working together to #MakeTravelHappenAgain!
Find out how to submit your story to #UnlockAfrica here.
What’s to come?
It is always wonderful to reflect on what has been done – but the question remains: what is still to come for ATW? While our masterclasses have been immensely successful and well-received, everybody is missing out on that all-important human connection and unique travel marketplace feel.
The team is looking forward to getting back to our live shows next year and have conducted extensive research on what this will look like. According to our most recent WTM Africa sentiment survey sent to 15 000 attendees, 81% still see the importance of a live show, with 83% feeling confident to attend face-to-face. However, with many of our key source markets experiencing a COVID resurgence, we have decided that a hybrid event (physical and digital) will take place over our original dates from 07-09 April 2021.
In this format, meetings will take place over three days face-to-face with one additional day run as a virtual event to cater for our international buyers who may not be able to attend the physical element of the show. The benefits of this will be that buyers and exhibitors will still get a significant ROI, with exhibitors having access to an additional pool of international buyers virtually.
Should we not be able to go ahead with a hybrid show in April due to further COVID setbacks, we will roll out a fully virtual show over the same dates and offer various tailormade event packages to suit business needs and budgets.
Only time will tell what the next 12 – 18 months will bring, but it goes without saying that we are keeping our fingers crossed for positivity, health, revival, and growth. Africa Travel Week is well-prepared and ready to welcome our attendees back to our events and reignite travel and tourism on the African continent!
Thank you to all of our partners for their support thus far. We hope to see you all (in-person) next year!