By Ashok Ramsarup :: Since the outbreak of COVID-19, many businesses in South Africa have suffered huge financial losses, unemployment and economic woes as concern mounts following an uncertain future.
But Durban’s International Conference Centre (ICC) situated in the port city, went into overdrive mode when the lockdown kicked in earlier this year. Durban ICC Chief Executive Officer, Lindiwe Rakharebe and her energetic team worked tirelessly to change the modus operandi to find a new innovative way to improve the business environment.
The Durban ICC, which is “Africa’s Leading Convention Centre” on the African continent, has experienced a R165-million loss as a result of the pandemic that had forced the postponement of events following government regulations.
A confident Rakharebe said the dedicated team hit core business on a high note to work effectively in the hope of creating a turn-around strategy in doing business. She said the Durban ICC developed and invested in on-line event technology in keeping with the fourth industrial revolution.
Rakharebe said they focussed on the development of high-tech Virtual Event solutions as a result re-trained the event coordinators into event producers encouraging a range of online event offerings from live-streaming events and hybrid events to fully remote presentation events. She said: “Clients can run their entire events from the comfort and safety of their homes. The venture had turned difficulties as opportunities.”
She said: “The Durban ICC has experienced many cancellations and postponements of events as a result of the pandemic. We are hopeful the Durban ICC should be abuzz once President Cyril Ramaphosa gives the go-ahead to host gatherings on a bigger scale.
“The Centre has put a range of safety measures in place for the re-opening and we have re-opened for events again, even on this relatively small scale,” said Rakharebe.
In keeping with the World Health Organisation protocols, the Durban ICC introduced several health and safety precautions that include: –
* Prior to arrival at the Centre, guests, delegates and staff complete a Covid-19 screening questionnaire available from the Durban ICC’s screening App.
* Upon arrival at the Centre, Temperature readings are taken for all staff, visitors and delegates
* Touch-free, alcohol-based hand-sanitizers are provided at all entrances and are stationed throughout the Centre
* A COVID-19 health and safety briefing are given at the start of each event
* Seating plans have been amended to provide the appropriate social distance for every delegate in each meeting style at the event
* All delegates and staff are required to wear their face masks for the duration of the Event
* All catering is done on an individualized serving basis
* All high-touch surfaces are sanitized regularly throughout the Centre.
* Ultra-violet (UV) light air sanitizers are used to neutralize micro-organisms and sterilize the knives in the culinary department.
Rakharebe said: “Durban ICC’s passion remains rooted in connecting people and being the place where the world meets Africa. Hybrid events will never replace the human connection, but will certainly enhance meetings and events as a beneficial component during Covid-19.
“Clients take advantage of this innovation and experience the next level of events, incorporating an unparalleled blend of community networking, international engagement and even on-line destination experience,” added Rakharebe.