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The economic contribution of the Design Indaba : a case study of the International Buyers’ Programme
Events are happenings that embody certain objectives; business events, sport events and festivals comprise the three general types of events that attract most attention. Design Indaba (DI) is one of the world’s leading design and business events launched in 1995 as a conference, but incorporating an Expo from 2004. The DI Expo triggered a need for buyer and exhibitor interaction and led to the launch of the DI Buyers’ Day, a programme aimed at bringing buyers and exhibitors together on a day set aside for buyers to view the products and services offered at the Expo before the general public. This study seeks to identify the economic contribution of the DI Buyers’ Day Programme to the event, to buyers, exhibitors and to Cape Town as a tourism destination. The study profiles the exhibitors and buyers before focusing on buyers’ spending patterns at the Expo and in Cape Town, their level of awareness and involvement in the event, their satisfaction with and perceptions of the event. Buyers were surveyed post event via electronic mail, while exhibitors were surveyed at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) during the Expo dates of 28 February 2014 to 2 March 2014. Key Informant interviews were conducted with the event organiser and one of the event stakeholders (Department of the Premier, Western Cape Provincial Government) in order to gain insights from relevant parties prior to the event. The study adopted a mixed-method approach, combining qualitative research (to get an in-depth set of opinions from buyers and exhibitors), with quantitative research concentrating on a stratified sample of the participants. The latter data collected from buyers and exhibitors was analysed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) software – Version 22.0, which enabled the data to be tabulated and graphically represented. The qualitative data was analysed using the constant comparative method. The research shows that both exhibitors and buyers regard the programme as a significant platform to build their brands and access business opportunities. However, emerging creatives and entrepreneurs feel that they need additional pre-event assistance/training to be able to maximise the opportunity to make connections with buyers who view their products/services. The event organisers also mentioned that if more governmental departments could be involved, more funding would be available to deal with key questions in terms of creating new markets, growing exports and creating jobs. Overall, the DI Buyers’ programme is one of the biggest trade shows in South Africa, attracting the largest number of buyers. More international buyers should be invited to the event, and design facet categories created so that they can be paired with the appropriate exhibitor. A single day for the DI Programme is also too short: an additional day should be added or a pre-event and post-event networking session should be created solely for exhibitors and buyers.