HELLO MALAWI!

KumbaliI was recently a guest at the beautiful 4-star equivalent KUMBALI COUNTRY LODGE, 9 klms from Lilongwe, the capital city of Malawi and I was quite mind-blown at the standard of hospitality, the high level of professionalism, exceptionally well trained staff and the very nature of Malawi’s people.

Guy and Maureen Pickering who own KUMBALI COUNTRY LODGE are the most welcoming, warm, caring and friendly folk who are available 24/7 during one’s stay at their lovely home-from-home Lodge in the country.

What stood out for me is the superior and professional manner of their staff, who clearly love what they do and who love where they are. Smartly attired at all times, always willing to go the extra mile, polite and who made our stay at their lovely lodge a total indulgence in luxury!
Lilongwe Airport – 9 klms from the Lodge is an international airport, with flights from OR Tambo, Johannesburg several times a week – a mere two hour journey, no visas required, merely your passport. An easy flight on SAA.

Landscapes
This landlocked country is filled with a variety of picturesque landscapes from north to south. Its highest peak stands at 3,000 meters while the lowest point lies just a little above sea level. Malawi, in the spring and summer, is lush and green with plains, forests, mountains, plateaus, and exhilarating river valleys. In the Highland areas and forest reserves there are great options for accommodations, Kumbali Country Lodge being one of these.

Wildlife
With diverse flora and fauna, much of which is in more than10 wildlife reserves and national parks the climate in this little country is the perfect setting for tropical vegetation. Although Malawi’s population of large mammals is not as high as those of its neighbouring countries, wildlife viewing is still enjoyed by visitors, both locally and those from away. We visited in their winter which has a climate much like that in Durban on the warm winter days. To me, this is perfect! .

THE GREATEST ATTRACTION …..
LAKE MALAWI lies between Mozambique, Tanzania and Malawi – the 9th largest freshwater lake in the world. Here, in this rural, peaceful and natural area, fishing is quite a busy industry amongst the local folk, in their simple but practical fishing boats – These areas are where most of the Malawian population will be found.

Lake Malawi is, I would guess, the most visited tourist attraction in Malawi, as this large body of freshwater with its golden sand beaches is a magnificent destination for swimming, diving, snorkelling, extreme water sports and a photographer’s paradise! There is only one other country I have visited with such blue, clean water and that is New Zealand! …. It is breath-taking from every point and massive!.

Because of the large rural population, the economy of the country relies largely on agriculture. In recent years, the government has made great strides in developing the country from one of the least developed countries in the world to gaining a more stable foot in the direction of financial independence. Since 2005, the tourism to Malawi and environmental protection plus education and health services have received a lot of attention and the welfare of these people has therefore greatly improved..

ACCOMMODATION AND CONFERENCE FACILITIES IN MALAWI

The best way to visit all that Malawi is proud to show off is to base yourself at a good Lodge or Hotel and to travel daily from this point. Such is the luxury yet affordable “KUMBALI COUNTRY LODGE”. Situated within a 650-hectare forest reserve, the Kumbali Country Lodge does not only pride itself on its luxurious accommodations but on its environment as well.

The Kumbali Lodge offers superior, spacious accommodation in 14 executive rooms and 2 deluxe suites. All the rooms at the lodge include wireless internet access, satellite TV, facilities with South African DSTV channels, tea and coffee making facilities, fans, mosquito nets and table and chairs. Most rooms have spacious, under thatch verandahs overlooking their peaceful, beautiful grounds. The accommodation matches the best Malawi has to offer..

Conveniently located near Lilongwe, the Conference Centre provides a beautiful and natural setting for conferences and private events – a result achieving venue in the peace and tranquillity of the country. These are the services provided at the lodge:

• Luxury Accommodation in14 executive and 2 deluxe rooms
• Fine dining, private dining and table d’hote or a-la-carte meals in the restaurant
• Charming Conference Centre (2 venues)
• Wireless internet access
• Fully stocked and cosy bar
• Comfortable outdoor seating overlooking a magnificent, well manicured and well tended garden and fresh water pool with a private lounge upstairs
• Lilongwe Airport transfers
• Transport to/from Lilongwe city centre
• Printing and photocopying
• Packed lunches
• Laundry facilities (7 days a week)
• Dry cleaning available on request
• Reliable electricity supply (generator power back up
• Torches and umbrellas in all rooms

CONFERENCES AT KUMBALI COUNTRY LODGE

In two well equipped, unusual conference venues, Kumbali offers excellent conference facilities to local delegates and international delegates, capable of seating up to 60 delegates +-. Special residential/conference packages are available. Kumbali Country Lodge has increasingly become a very popular and busy conference destination. The beauty of hosting your event here, depending on its size and number of delegates, is that you are likely to have exclusivity of the Lodge. A private fine cuisine dinner may be prepared for your gala night while at the start of your event, a wonderful ice-breaker could be a good old South African Braai or authentic local cuisine at the on-site Cultural Village where local entertainment will be laid on for you too and a well stocked pub.

 

 
The Kumbali Lodge is to be compared with any well run, up-market 4-star venue along the Midlands, or in the Drakensberg.
MALAWI CULTURAL VILLAGE AT KUMBALI COUNTRY LODGE

For an authentic African village experience visit the on-site Kumbali Cultural Village. Within walking distance of the Lodge, the Village has accommodation with traditional and international cuisine on offer, a local arts & crafts centre, and a covered outdoor conference facility.

PERMACULTURE
A short walk from Kumbali Country Lodge, is Nature’s Gift Permaculture Centre- a demonstration plot for Kusamala Institute of Agriculture and Ecology. The permaculture centre is on 20 hectares of land and serves to demonstrate and promote solutions for food and nutrition security in Malawi.

What is Permaculture?
“Permaculture (permanent agriculture) is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems, which have the diversity, stability and the strength of natural ecosystems. It is the integration of land and people, supplying their food, energy, shelter and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way. Without sustainable agriculture there is no possibility of a sustainable human culture.”

Nature’s Gift Permaculture Centre is a ten minute walk from the lodge. The staff, interns, and volunteers, welcome visitors and taking them on a tour of the centre, proudly showing that Malawi is indeed a rich country.

Make a change … on our vast Continent, there is so much we haven’t seen, haven’t experienced and the best way to experience MALAWI is to visit there. And so, for your next ‘different’ conference experience, choose KUMBALI COUNTRY LODGE and a tour to the Lake which will be organised by the owners of the Lodge who also have a smaller Lodge right on the water front!

Brought to you in the interests of professional conference and event organising by VENUE PAGES (www.venuepages.co.za)

Please use the contact us form below should you wish to contact us.  We source venues for you through Africa.

 

FROM THE HORSE’S MOUTH

Conference organiser

Click to enlarge

Article written by Rosalie Howard at Venue Pages (www.venuepages.co.za)

THE PCO’s ROLE

Q: What is a PCO? A: A Professional Conference Organiser

Sales and Marketing … there IS a difference and they work well together

I was employed in senior management in a fine hotel for over 10 years and the area I loved most and succeeded well in was the field of Sales and Marketing which in my position included Banqueting and Conference Coordinating, every aspect of sales, promotional golf days, exhibitions, educational site inspections for PCO’s, Travel Agents …. You name it.

From this platform, due to a back injury, I changed direction and the wind blew me into the PCO industry, which until a little while before, I bore a little bit of a grudge towards. Why? Because quite frequently in my position I would find that events I had been toiling on for weeks, liaising with my client on a personal one-to-one basis suddenly became the possession of a leading local PCO ! … When I raised this matter with our Operations Manager, who doubled as our General Manager, he had quite a time persuading me to take a different stance and to look at business from another angle …. This didn’t come easily to me at first because I guarded my successes in sales very closely and to suddenly find that my Operations Manager had given my bookings away to a PCO who was going to be earning 15% commission on these was indeed a bitter pill to swallow! In retrospect, Heaven knows why I reacted thus, as I didn’t earn commission. I was paid a monthly salary! I questioned whether it was jealousy or whether I was merely doing my job in support of my hotel, hanging onto every cent I could… After I ‘got it’, I understood ;though didn’t quite accept yet, that the value of the said PCO and for that matter any PCO was much greater than I had ever given them credit for, for the client in question, a large Blue Chip company had become her ‘client’ and she was their ‘guru’. She actually had it in her power to sway her client anywhere she chose!! That’s quite something right? … She was good, she was successful and she served me, I had to concede.

Conference organiser

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Now …. I am a PCO and have enjoyed fair success over 15 years … and I can now genuinely understand or have removed the blocks around this subject for I am on the other side now and ‘get’ just how valuable my Operations Manager’s words were at that time!

The Market Place …
Every PCO has a list, miles long of clients, either current or past and they are movers and shakers in finding future clients – they never rest … they are sales people, people! Believe it, they are! They are also marketing minded people, or they wouldn’t be in this industry. A reputable PCO will not market or sell a venue he or she does not believe will suit their client. It isn’t anyway in his or her interest to do so. We (I generalise) only promote venues we have tried and tested, who have good reputations or have been highly recommended to us and who meet expected standards. We build relationships with our clients, who come back again and again if they have received good service. We are a one-stop shop for them, their personal nanny if you like, because we relieve them of a lot of donkey work. A perfect solution for the PA or Secretary who works for 8 bosses, all of whom think his or her work is top priority. In return for their loyalty and support, we continue to offer them superb service, and I am sure I speak for most of us. It’s not an industry where one can make an easy or quick buck, take it from the horse’s mouth!! “We work hard for our money!”

Venue Support – Win-Win or Win-Lose?.
Just as the PCO’s serves their clients, they serve the venue as well. How?, you might ask – because, to ensure the success of the event, to ensure the satisfaction of our clients, we fully coordinate every detail from enquiry stage, to departure from the venue, making sure that every t is crossed, that every i is dotted. The task of gathering facts, itineraries, rooming lists, conference materials and papers, money, ordering gifts and conference bags, making name badges, transport, exhibitions, entertainment, décor, buying and installing the latest on-line registration programmes for our computers for efficient and professional management of the event … the tasks are endless, can be tedious and can take a year or longer to conclude, depending on the size and content of the event. Banqueting Coordinators in hotels and conference centres do not have time or experience in attending to all the requirements that are called for. That is not their job. They are experts at carrying out instructions from the client, they are highly qualified to make the event happen, either via the PCO or direct, depending on whether a PCO is involved or not. The hotel management can only do what they are asked to do. This begs a question … why is it that there are still many venues out there who do not appreciate what the PCO does, who believe that the PCO is overpaid and frequently try to beat them down in commission and it does happen! Seriously it happens! Any PCO will vouch for that or we are made to feel that they, the venue are doing us a favour by offering some sort of reward other than hard cash!

One day, we hope in the not too distant future, all hotels and conference centres will appreciate the value of a PCO to them from marketing and selling their specific venue to their client, to carrying out the numerous duties expected of them by the client AND the venue and that they will gladly pay what is essentially a pittance comparatively speaking if we take the entire event into consideration. Why is there often so much reluctance to acknowledge a PCO’s worth? My old Ops Manager, being a marketing minded man could see their value a long time ago and he changed my impressions and my stuck ideas of what a PCO truly represents!

For a free no obligation on a conference venue in South Africa please contact us on 082 055 0102 or complete the form below.

TEAM BUILDING IN KWA ZULU NATAL, TEAM BUILDING SOUTH AFRICA

 

When you think of the words ‘Team Building’, what comes up for you? “Oo, I need to be physically fit and strong, young and skinny or perhaps muscular and male … “. Fortunately this is not the case! Phew! That feels more comfortable!

To enquire about Team Building please click here and a consultant will contact you.

Team Building companies have designed their numerous activities taking every body type into account, every age and state of health and will never push you beyond your limits. That isn’t the point of Team Building. While it is meant to be a fun activity, the focus is largely on the Team Spirit, Team Bonding, getting to know one another’s strengths and weaknesses, learning to appreciate and respect one another for our pit-falls and our strengths. It is actually a very enlightening form of psychology if you think about it? Right? And the guys who run these events have studied and researched all this stuff and actually are the ‘fundi’s’ at knowing what event or activity will achieve the desired results…And it’s about what your company or department hopes to achieve from the effects and impact of the team building, emotionally, mentally and to see how resilient, how determined you are as a team, whether you do in fact work as ‘one’ and where there are those of us who prefer to work alone … or to be background support and not necessarily in the front … we are all diverse and unique and each one of us in the team will present in a totally unique way, all combining to build a team. All of this serves the team as a whole as each individual supports in his or her own unique manner to make the team work ‘wholly’. Isn’t this what all companies desire at the end of the day (to cash in on a worn-out cliché!) … I reckon … And quite besides what the company desires …. You as delegates want to have fun!

We, in our company have been very fortunate to have met and got to know the guys at Beach and Bush Adventures, based in KZN who have an enormous variety of activities, purpose designed for your desired outcome. I have noted some of the variations below that they will offer your team and will also suggest venues that are tried and tested and most suitable for these activities, while there are many others throughout the Province that will work just as well. And very important to know is that Sean and his team at Beach and Bush Adventures will take their team virtually anywhere nationally to facilitate your team building. They are not stuck with venues in KZN. Good guys to know!!

Beach and Bush’s ‘Minute 2 Winit’ – Cocktail Challenge team build for the rainy day and is a fantastic alternative to physical team building and a perfect ‘Ice-Breaker’ on the first night away from home.

General

Participants spend time in groups completing low-impact / mentally challenging tasks in a set time limit as per the popular television show. They then end off by creating unique cocktails which are graded and presented to the group.
The first stage consists of groups competing directly across a series of classic ?Minute 2 Winit! puzzles and tasks. Groups are then scored and access to a wide range of cocktail mixing ingredients, garnishes etc are dependent on the score attained.
Using limited resources, teams must then mix up a storm to create the ultimate cocktail.
Teams present their cocktails to the panel in front of the entire group and our experienced judges sample and rate the creations, often a hilarious undertaking!

All team members then have access to the bar to mix additional cocktails, a great party starter.
At the end each group must present their cocktails and explain them, they are judged and the cocktail champions are announced.

SPECIFIC OUTCOMES: RELAX, INTERACT OUTSIDE OF WORKSPACE, CO-ORDINATE, TIME MANAGEMENT

The Amazing Race Team Build : This …Is… Fun!!!

This option is customised according to the area in South Africa where it takes place. Beach and Bush have set up routes throughout South Africa, but are always willing to re-quote and re-plan according to your needs.
The tone of Beach and Bush’s Amazing Race team building activity is action packed, sophisticated, yet fun. Events are chosen based on your desired team building outcome. Challenges such as the ‘art challenge’ are geared to set a more upmarket tone, and events such as the ‘road block’ and ‘giant puzzles’ test your skills whilst keeping the event light-hearted and fun.
Brief overview: Teams meet at the start of the race. They are given instructions on the route and details of the challenges, which can be completed in any order. Teams begin the race, completing ALL the challenges as quickly as possible, acquiring clues after each challenge allowing them to proceed. The objective is simple…. complete all the challenges and be the first team home.
Amazing Race team building activity options include: Kayak Challenge / Croc Farm Challenge / Cocktail Mixing / Casino Challenge / Fishing Challenge / Giant Puzzles / Bungee Jumping / Sangoma Challenge / Art Challenge / Down-Down Challenge / Sushi Challenge / Treasure Hunt / Polaroid Camera Challenge / Road Block Challenge / Climbing Wall Challenge……….. and many more fantastic options.
Available In South Africa and across Africa on request.

What Is Included

• Professional facilitators at each station
• Pre-planning & set up
• Chosen activities
• All equipment and required items
• Access to all relevant properties used in the activities

Durbs By The Sea … The uShaka Challenge

The appeal of the uShaka Challenge Teambuild is that it’s low impact and the focus is on fun while, the challenges are specifically structured to encourage fundamental team building outcomes such as improved communication, cohesion and respect for roles and norms. Ushaka has become a successful team building venue enjoyed by all taking part in this challenge.
Activity Options: you can choose to either do a ‘dry’ or ‘wet’ uShaka Challenge Teambuild, and activity options include the following examples and much more.

DRY:

• Bribe the Pirate: bribe the pirate on the ship with either coke or rum for the next clue.
• Too Cool for School: wax a surfboard on the beach.
• Polaroid Camera Aquarium: find a clue situated in the aquarium, take a Polaroid picture as proof of finding it to get the next clue.
• Help Bongani Lifesaving Challenge: using a rope and kayaks you’ll have to perform a rescue operation either in the surf or in the canals (physical).
• Wimpy Challenge: have to make something and eat it.

WET:

• Lazy River Catch Up Race: find a clue in the river running through the park.
• Snorkel Lagoon Treasure Hunt: find a clue hidden in the lagoon.
• Chicken Run Plunge: go down a 90 degree slide holding an egg without breaking it.
• Kayak Race: racing around buoys on the surf (physical).
The uShaka Challenge Teambuild is a flexible team building event that can be structured to be run either as a race (as in the Amazing Race) or as a more static concept like Fear Factor. With a large group, it is usually recommended that a combination of the 2 be applied. Ie: Each group is given a number of tasks to complete, some of these are time based, whereas with others the goal is simply to finish.

DRUMMING …..

Ponder on this … every single organ in our bodies beats to its own rhythm …synchronising and working in harmony with every other organ. A normal body works in an organised manner, each cell and each organ supporting all the others … Rhythm is in everything that lives … (That wipes out some people’s belief that they have no sense of rhythm! You can’t get off that lightly!)
Drum Africa is a fresh look at interactive drumming sessions, uniquely designed as a teambuild for corporate groups. Let the rhythm of the African Beat surge through your body as you drum away your stress and build your team. No previous musical experience is needed and if you can clap your hands to a beat, you can play a drum and carry a rhythm.
Drum Africa is brought to you by Beach and Bush Adventures, one of South Africa’s top corporate teambuilding and event organising operators.

General

Beach and Bush’s Drum Africa is an interactive team build designed for groups of 10 – 200 people. It is mobile and can be done anywhere as long as there is sufficient space and seating. Drum Africa is also a great add on to any of the other Beach and Bush teambuilds.

Each drumming session takes around 1 hour but can be customized to fit in with your schedule, the sessions are broken up into 4 parts and as the drummers skills progress, so does the difficulty. Each person is equipped with either a djemba drum, shaker or rhythm sticks. At the direction of our facilitators we start with a simple beat and before you know it you’re making MUSIC!!!
Interactive drumming is a great way to build your team, within minutes we’ll have the group interacting in a unique way, every individual will have there own part to play in ensuring that the show goes on. Participants are quick to learn that individual efforts count for very little and team work is essential. Drum Africa is specifically designed as a teambuilding event and professional facilitators are always on hand to ensure that the session is a success.

Recommended Venues

• The Boathouse – North Coast
• Pumula Beach Hotel – South Coast
• Tala Private Game Reserve – Inland between Hillcrest and PMB
• Mondazur Resort Estate Hotel – Southbroom South Coast
• Palm Dune Beach Lodge – North Coast
• Bonamanzi Game Park
• Fordoun Hotel, Spa and Restaurant – Midlands
• Woodridge Country Estate Hotel and Spa – Midlands
• Granny Mouse, Country House – Midlands
• Drakensberg Sun Lifestyle Resort – Central Berg
• Champagne Sports Resort – Central Berg
• Quantani Resort – Free State
• Alpine Heath Resort – Northern Berg
Article written by Rosalie Howard: The Venue Pages

 

 

THE EFFECTS & AFTERMATH OF THE ‘RECESSION’ IN THE TRAVEL, TOURISM AND CONFERENCE INDUSTRY (AND HOPE FOR THE FUTURE)

 

This is a topic worth discussing while many of us would rather put to bed the ongoing negative talk that is still prevalent, world-wide and while we should also get out of Ostrich mode and face the facts that are … is it all bad news? I don’t believe it is … we can see light at the end of the tunnel.

When it all began, ‘all of a sudden’ … and the nasty words ‘World Recession’ hit the front pages, I didn’t believe that it could affect me or mine or our productivity to a great extent as it has never happened in our industry before with any great impact … but one morning I woke up and faced the realisation that suddenly the bottom seemed to have dropped out of business in our particular industry … that being the Conference Industry as a PCO (Professional Conference Organiser).

First the negatives, to get them out of the way …

In 2008 we had the best year ever financially, with so much going on, resulting in having to employ additional staff to manage the daily volume of enquiries and bookings. It was fantastic and I am sure I speak for many small businesses, in all fields when I say this … To adopt half a line from the old Frank Sinatra song … “In 2008… it was a very good year” … It was.

I took a trip to the UK for my Christmas holidays because I could afford to and from the moment of my return in January 2009, it was evident that things were not quite right in the conference tourism industry.

In our marketing capacity, we were being told by all and sundry that there just wasn’t a budget any longer for advertising and in fact, many corporate companies, and government departments were already retrenching staff and managing their businesses with skeleton staff … Worse than this was the realisation on a daily basis that companies and even government departments had been told to cut back on their conference budgets to such a degree that it became extremely difficult to find suitable venues for our clients to match their budgets. Many companies and government departments opted for the use of their own facilities where this was possible and I am sure that I am accurate in suggesting that the 4 and 5 star hotels suffered most in this industry with the enormous drop-off in numbers and ‘bums in beds’ as a result. It was 3-star or nothing …

In many ways this recession was a hidden blessing … however before anyone gets angry with me for this suggestion, I say this purely because I have observed and have been involved in how many individuals and companies have found alternative resources… it’s amazing how much talent is available in all of us which we seldom considered or were aware of until we were forced into the situation of having to find other means of making ends meet … I have seen degreed women and men turning their hands to wood-work, a previous hobby, to building houses, something they had never even considered was a possibility, to waitering in the evenings for tips to make up the shortfall … I take my hat off to all those who have rigorously looked for and found other means the subsidise salaries in their professions to put bread on the table.

However, all this is stale news now … for it has been a topic elaborated on over and over again, added to, expounded on and regrettably over-dramatised by the sensation seekers amongst us, resulting in fear, more fear and to many a sense of hopelessness.

Hopelessness is not the way to go ….. for we have all been equipped with the wherewithal to manage, to cope and to surge forward in any circumstances … though it doesn’t feel that way at times, I know … we have to move on, move forward and I think, in my humble opinion, try as best we can to ‘live in the present’ …. Yeah, I hear you say, we have to plan for our futures … and I do whole heartedly agree with that however the future is not clear at all … we haven’t got there yet, so focussing all of our energy and attention on ‘tomorrow’ can be exhausting and we forget to consider where we are NOW, and appreciate the present for what it now presents us with. We could miss the boat, in saturating our minds with what comes next. While it is necessary to dream about tomorrow, for our dreams often do become our reality (so beware of what you dream – it could just come true!) … however, to return to a more serious note … I am sure you will agree that most of us have found that we are really extremely entrepreneurial, resilient and very talented individuals, with many other resources we have been able to tap on, sufficient to keep us fed and housed, while we have had to forget about many luxuries, about that trip abroad or even just down the coast for a weekend, or our weekly dinner at a fine restaurant … I often ponder on something I was once told, that we can’t take with us any of the stuff we accumulate in our lives … we go solo when we go … so yes, let’s enjoy what we can afford to have but let us wake up to the fact that we have become a species that focuses way too much time on ‘having’ and too little time on ‘being’ … Being is guaranteed, having is not.

And now for the good news …

The old cliché claims that ‘when the going gets tough … the tough get going’ …

World Cup 2010 contributed enormous growth and was a major boost for tourism in South Africa. Stats claim that there was a 15.1% growth in tourist arrivals to the country in 2010 who visited South Africa primarily for the World Cup.

The United Nations’ COP 17 Climate Change Conference also contributed much to the economy and also proved what we are capable of.

Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said at the annual congress of the S.A. Association of the Conference Industry last week that South Africa has secured more than 200 international conferences already for the forthcoming five years. He estimated that this will attract approximately 300,000 delegates to the country and an economic boost of more than R1.6 billion for the economy. That’s good news!
In 2011, South Africa received 392,000 business travellers, of which 140,000 were meetings incentive conference and events (MICE) delegates. Van Schalkwyk said his department had set a target of 15 million international arrivals by 2020.
This augurs well, wouldn’t you agree? …
What we in the South African Conference & Tourism industry must maintain is the exceptionally high standard of service and quality of venues we are renowned for world-wide … we cannot afford to drop the ball … it is natural to our citizens to offer top class hospitality and standards – it is part of who we are – and we have the wherewithal for international-standard training. Let us never become arrogant or de-motivated for the hospitality industry largely contributes to our economy. We have so much to offer …. We also have much to gain for the good of all. Let’s pull out all the stops and be better than our best … we can do it. We have proved this. World Cup Soccer was a fine example of this.

Article written by Rosalie Howard. The Venue Pages

 

THE PRO’S AND CONS OF UTILISING GUEST HOUSES vs HOTELS FOR CONFERENCES AND MEETINGS

Conference venues Johannesburg

Click the pic for conference venues Johannesburg and South Africa

I am sure that readers will have some valuable input here … discussing the pro’s and cons of Guest Houses and B & B’s versus Hotels and Conference Centres for conferences, meetings and Bos Beraads … We invite you to join a discussion.

Depending on the nature of the conference … i.e. if it is designed to be light-hearted without strict boundaries or schedules, a Guest House or B & B is ideal because they might impart an energy of quiet, relaxation and peace without bounds … bearing in mind that usually Guest Houses or B & B’s do not have a dedicated conference venue (while there are those who do) and they utilise their dining area for this purpose. Therefore, the day’s business can only realistically commence after breakfast has been cleared, at around 9.30 or 10 a.m. However, you would have the rest of the day to yourselves in this space as this is generally the only meal these personal and private venues prepare.

Personal attention is definitely assured in a Guest House or B & B, yours being likely to be the only event taking place on the day, hence you will have exclusivity with no distractions … unless the venue has grown into a large Guest House as some have offering more than one venue … ideally they should be re-named Boutique Hotels or Lodges wouldn’t you say? You are also likely to have home-baked cookies for tea and a lovingly prepared home cooked lunch … and ‘the lady or lord of the manor’ will even attend to your laundry with prior arrangements in most.

Hotels and Conference Centres on the other hand, are specifically, purpose-built with conference in mind and have all the staff required to attend to all the tiny details. They will be well equipped with state-of-the-art conference equipment and teas and meals will be served in designated areas, or in their main restaurant, or they might offer you a finger lunch inside the venue as a working lunch, if time does not permit a lengthy break in the day. They can certainly be more flexible as they have the means to be so.

Hotels of course are most suitable where numbers are high and accommodation is required for all delegates, whereas a guest house or B & B in general is only ideal for the smaller events. Hotels will likely also have their own shuttle service for collections from the airport.

Room service will be an attraction in hotels as 4 and 5 star hotels usually offer 24 hour room service if delegates do not wish to dine in the restaurant on site or call for a snack or a drink late at night.

Hotel rooms are nearly always equipped with wall safes for your valuables; some offer self-catering facilities such as microwaves and fridges and are stocked with all required crockery. Many hotels will offer either self catering rates or Bed and Breakfast, or dinner, bed and breakfast while others do not offer self catering at all.

Depending on where you are, many hotels will offer business lounges with up-to-date internet facilities, and team building space, an additional venue for your gala event, private dinner or Break Away room and of course, the favourite meeting place at the end of the day ‘the Pub’.

There are those who prefer the home-from-home ambience of a Guest House or Bed and Breakfast which is certainly an attraction, while there are those who prefer the formal surroundings and the kind of service only a hotel can offer.

B & B rates are always more affordable while hotels, being in the position of being able to offer full service, will be more expensive.

I guess it depends entirely on the event … the schedule you are working to … the area you are in .. and most importantly, your own comfort and choice!!

Any comments?

Author : Rosalie Howard Venue Pages

The Venue Pages provides the largest single free database of conference venues in South Africa.,  Click here to access the full database.