Stocktake: ‘Revenge attendance’ expected to aid expos in 2021

The exhibition industry predicts it will bounce back in 2021, attracting  record visitors; and paying attention to corporate lockdown regulations could aid your business financially under lockdown.

The exhibition industry predicts that it will bounce back in 2021 and will attract record visitors; paying attention to corporate lockdown regulations could aid your business financially; and G&G looks at how business changed in only 90 days.

Exhibition industry builds hope

Exhibitions were again starting up in Asia and looking set to become stronger than before. This was due to so-called ‘revenge attendance’, lockdown fatigue and digital fatigue, speakers noted during an online panel discussion hosted by the Association of African Exhibition Organisers (AAXO), to mark Global Exhibitions Day this week. ‘Revenge attendance’ is a term coined recently where people flock to events or store openings (as has been witnessed in Asia when economies began opening up); desperate to  get out and have face-to-face interaction again after months of lockdown and self-isolation. Basically, people miss people.

South African exhibition organisers said they were optimistic the industry will be able to rebound next year. Representatives of leading local exhibition organisers said that despite postponements or cancellations, they were still hard at work through the lockdown, to deliver shows in 2021.

Dain Richardson, senior exhibition manager at Messe Muenchen South Africa’s food & drink technology (fdt) Africa and analytica Lab Africa, said: “We know exhibitions are crucial – they are an ideal platform for companies growing their markets; they bring people together in ways that other channels cannot. With clever co-location, organisers can also give exhibitors and sponsors an opportunity to significantly broaden their network and range.” AAXO Chair Projeni Pather added: “Exhibitions drive us, connect people and connect Africa. The virus won’t go away anytime soon, so we need to adapt and work around it, and change visitor and exhibitor expectations so they still see ROI. The industry is already a very regulated one, and the Event Safety Council is currently working on draft regulations to support exhibitions and events going forward,” she said.

Benefits of Covid changes in corporate regulations
Sihle Bulose.

Corporate South Africa, which is already juggling the new regulations of Level 3 for accommodating employees in physical offices, can benefit greatly from relaxations in corporate governance requirements aimed at helping companies cope with the financial fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, says Sihle Bulose, senior associate at corporate law firm CMS South Africa, part of the international law group CMS. “Thankfully, a number of corporate governance rules have been relaxed by South African regulators in line with international trends.”

He explains that COVID-19 mitigation measures such as travel restrictions and social distancing have impacted the ability of companies to comply with their corporate governance obligations. In addition, businesses may be facing temporary financial difficulties – because of the unusual situation they face at the moment. This has necessitated the relaxation of corporate governance requirements across the world. South Africa is on trend, says Bulose, with the Companies and Intellectual Property Company (CIPC) advising that it will not issue compliance notices to companies that are temporarily insolvent and continue to conduct business, where the CIPC believes that the insolvency is caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. “This relaxation expires 60 days after South Africa’s state of national disaster has been lifted, which allows companies more than enough time to become liquid again and fulfil their financial obligations. It indicates that South Africa’s government is thinking beyond just the immediate impact of the pandemic.”

In some cases, South Africa’s business legislation has not required adjustments, because it already accommodates certain changes that are now being seen because of the pandemic. For instance, because of the existing flexibility of the South African Companies Act of 2008, the CIPC has not issued guidance on holding shareholder and board meetings electronically. That’s because the Companies Act already permits electronic meetings, provided that all participants can attend simultaneously; and the company’s memorandum of incorporation (MOI) does not restrict electronic meetings. The Companies Act also allows for board and shareholder resolutions to be adopted by round-robin voting, without a meeting being convened; and already allows the Companies Tribunal to grant an extension of the prescribed time period between annual general meetings.

For companies listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), the Financial Sector Conduct Authority has extended a number of deadlines. These include deadlines for distributing annual general meeting notices to shareholders, submitting audited financial statements to the JSE, publishing provisional and final annual financial statements, and publishing annual financial statements on a listed company’s website. Many listed companies are considering how to raise additional capital, including rights offers, during the pandemic, and the JSE has taken this into account too. It has expedited the review process for rights offer prospectuses and will also consider requests for a quicker review of other capital raising circulars. In addition, documents that JSE listed entities are usually required to make available at their registered offices may be displayed on the entity’s website instead.

Bulose clarifies that these measures are meant to provide interim relief during the COVID-19 national lockdown and are not to be read as definitive amendments of its listing requirements or debt listing requirements.

How business changed in only 90 days

Webinars are essential in today’s environment, as they put back the human connection and assist in enhancing collaboration that many people crave while working remotely. “Marketers may be in crisis mode right now, but the benefits of webinars present a new tactical opportunity,” said Michael Gullan, managing director of G&G Digital. “All you need to do is move fast and get your webinar strategy in order to replace the revenue you were generating from areas that are no longer an option.” Gullan lists four ways that webinars can add value, despite ‘Zoom fatigue’ setting in:

  1. Encourage open dialogue: Webinars allow for real-time questions from the audience, no matter where they are. Presenters can easily weave audience questions and comments into the presentation and provide real-time feedback. As webinars are live events, they are more conversational as presenters can ask the audience questions, encouraging engagement.
  2. Position organisations as industry experts: Inviting experts to join in, organisations can expand their reach to other businesses and potential customers, as they position themselves as leaders in their industry.
  3. Soft selling: By using webinars effectively, businesses can teach and sell their products or services at the same time, in a more organic way. And the registration process allows organisations to build a database, along with an opportunity to attract new customers.
  4. Gaining insights: Although webinars are live events, they can be recorded to review and use in the future. These recordings offer opportunities to gain insights into attendees’ behaviour and inform future topics. And if used successfully, analysing questions asked during webinar sessions, can also help inform an organisation’s content strategy.

Gullan believes webinars are much more than a product launch or demonstration. They’re an excellent marketing tool, that offer organisations an opportunity to convert attendees into customers, all while being cost-effective to deliver an essential marketing role. With an opportunity to expand the business and stay top of mind, webinars are the beginning of a new way to engage organisations and take your business to the next level.

This week in numbers:

R1.4 billion

South African businesses are faced with a huge bill, estimated at R1.4 billion, for storage and demurrage costs accumulated during the 27 days of Level 5 lockdown, as more than 20 000 containers piled up in storage facilities. This week, the South African Association of Freight Forwarders (SAAFF) CEO, David Logan, expressed ‘serious concern’ at the high level of charges being invoiced by shipping lines for storage and demurrage on cargo which could not be delivered during the early stages of lockdown. “Until recently, containers could not legally be delivered to closed importers until the appropriate lockdown level was reached”. The problem is that under Levels 5 and 4, large numbers of containers could not be delivered. Logan says the amounts involved are very high and they are aware of invoices running into many millions of Rand already: “In reality, these charges were designed to penalise inefficiency rather than to recover costs. There is no logical reason why this approach should be applied in our current circumstances. We appeal to ocean carriers to exercise restraint and moderation by recovering only their outlays, although we would accept that some reasonable administrative charge could also be imposed.”

QUOTE of the week:

“Lockdown Lesson #1: Ditch the bravado and just be an honest human. I assure you; you’ll get better overall ROI as a result.”

Wayne Naidoo, founder and CEO of DUKE Group.


*Stocktake is weekly roundup of current FMCG retailing and brand news, curated and edited by Retailing Africa Publisher & Editor, Louise Burgers. Keep the industry updated and send your announcements and news to:


Louise Burgers (previously Marsland) is the Publisher and Editor and Co-Founder of She has spent over 20 years writing about the FMCG retailing, marketing, media and advertising industry in South Africa and on the African continent. She has specialised in local and Africa consumer trends and is a passionate Afro-optimist who believes it is Africa’s time to rise again and that the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) will be a global gamechanger in the next decade.

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