The exhibition space has been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic as social distancing and restricting numbers at public gathering are imposed. This has led to the postponement of this year’s Electra Mining Africa.
While there will be no live event, the show’s organiser, Specialised Exhibitions, has put together a comprehensive digital offering to encourage stakeholder engagement. GERARD PETER finds out more from company MD, GARY CORIN.
Electra Mining Africa has showcased many firsts in innovation and technology since its first show in 1972. This year’s event, which was scheduled to take place from 7 to 11 September at the Johannesburg Exhibition Centre, was due to showcase products and expertise from scores of local and international mining-focused exhibitors.
However, in line with new health and safety measures, Corin is confident that postponing Electra Mining Africa 2020 was the right decision to make.
Furthermore, in order to deal with the rising number of COVID-19 cases in South Africa, the show’s venue has also been converted into a 1 500 bed field hospital until the end of the year.
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“Not having the live event this year is the right decision for all stakeholders involved,” states Corin. “The safety and wellbeing of our exhibitors, suppliers, visitors and the industry as a whole continues to be of paramount importance to us.”
Corin readily admits that is a challenging time but that strength of the Electra Mining brand has ensured that Specialised Exhibitions can still interact with various stakeholders via a myriad of digital event offerings, before, during and after the week of the digital show.
“Our entire team has been directly in contact with the +800 exhibitors on our database. During the week of Electra Mining Africa, we are going to be engaging with our partners on a digital scale, including doing media activations and webinars,” explains Corin.
Read more about Electra Mining Africa
He adds that the company will be working closely with trades associations and visitor interest groups such as mining companies and professionals such as mechanical and chemical engineers.
Stakeholder engagement focus
With lots of workshops and live demonstrations, there is a clear distinction between Electra Mining Africa and other market offerings.
“If you look the large annual mining conference that happens in Cape Town – a city where little or no mining takes place – that conference draws politicians, policy makers and investors.
“Electra Mining is more nuts and bolts where there core focus is procurement, demonstrating new technologies and showcasing suppliers, rather than focussing on investment or policy.
“As such, our visitors typically hold senior operation positions in mining and are looking for tangible alternative solutions such as automated service offerings for practical applications,” adds Corin.
This poses quite a challenge for Specialised Exhibitions as it would be seemingly impossible to replicate some of the live demonstrations digitally. However, Corin adds the company is in no way trying to replace the live event with a digital offering.
Rather, it is merely providing a way keep the conversation between various stakeholders going during the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, the digital programme will focus on stakeholder engagement and stimulating interaction between the various interest groups.
In addition, between now and Electra Mining Africa 2022, there will be a number of face-to-face interactions. “This includes Electra Mining Botswana, the Local Manufacturing Expo (LME) and KZN Industrial Technology Expo (KITE), all taking place next year.
Granted, these exhibitions may be regional but they attract plenty of interest from many South African companies,” explains Corin.
Better suited visitorship
The impact of the coronavirus will have far-reaching consequences for the exhibition industry going forward and Corin believes that the sector will never be the same again. “A lot will be determined by the political and scientific landscapes,” he adds.
“For example, there are some countries that are developing a COVID-19 vaccine and the sooner one becomes available, the quicker we can return to ‘normal.’ That said, there will be significant changes in various sectors such as international air travel which will be scaled back and become more focused. The same thing will happen in the exhibition space.”
On a positive note, the way forward for Electra Mining Africa is that the show will now attract a more qualified visitor. “Mines employ thousands of people so, it is important to ensure that we attract the right type of visitor.
“There will be a fundamental shift in the way we currently manage our visitorship. Technology will play a key role in ensuring that we attract the correct type of visitor.
“Now, by vetting online applications in more detail, we can even guide people to the exact exhibition hall that they will be interested in. Yes, the footfall numbers will reduce but you will get a better quality visitor which will benefit exhibitor and visitors.”
The next live version of Electra Mining Africa will take place from 5 to 9 September 2022. This will also mark the 50th anniversary of the popular mining exhibition and Corin is looking forward to putting on another world-class event in 2022.
“Electra Mining Africa is recognised by industry as being more than just a show,” he concludes.