(NOTE: Oh dear. This post has been sitting in my Drafts folder for a year now. I wrote it up at the end of May 2015, but never got around to finishing it off. Now, a year later, my birthday is literally around the corner again, and more importantly, the 2016 version of the Expo is about to kick off on Monday. And yes, Kinetica is again being used to manage the badge print process in case you’re wondering. Right, time to get it out of my Drafts folder then…)
Luckily Chantelle and I celebrated my birthday the weekend before with a fabulous weekend away of wine and activities in Franschhoek, because come the Monday of my birthday (11 May 2015), I was on the plane and off to Johannesburg for work!
Hypenica, the sister company to which Touchwork (whom I work for) is a technology partner to, is an events and media (Concrete.tv, Cape Business News) company, focused in particular on the construction and infrastructure business sectors.
The week of the 10-16 May 2015 was a big one for them, with four distinct operations simultaneously taking place at the Sandton Convention Centre to make up their Concrete Week and African Construction Week events.
These four operations included:
- The Coatings for Africa Symposium and Expo is the only dedicated coatings event focused on providing proactive strategies for improving the use and understanding of coatings technologies and emerging trends in the industry.
- House for African Conference and Expo: With the continent now experiencing the world’s fastest economic growth and highest urbanisation rate, this much needed forum will highlight the latest technologies, thinking, approaches and strategies in construction to build and meet the demand for housing in Africa.
- African Construction Expo is a one-stop-shop to showcase, experience and learn about the latest building and construction methods, products, tools and technologies in just three days.
- The Totally Concrete Conference and Expo is the definitive African educational and networking platform for insights into the latest developments and technologies associated with the concrete and construction industry.
The reason that I got roped into all of this was because my boss Rudi Leitner thought it a good idea to test the waters and use Kinetica (formerly SurveyThumb), my multi-purpose, highly configurable feedback system as a exhibitor, visitor tracking and badge printing solution for the events – and so as first line system support and in order to get a better feel for what exactly was needed down on the ground for the expo environment going forward, I was plonked on a Kulula.com plane and sent off to Sandton, “the richest square mile in Africa”!
The flight was uneventful (bit of a bumpy landing though) and once safely back on the ground, luggage in hand and lost in O.R. Tambo International Airport, I followed the signs and made my way through the big space to at last locate the Gautrain ticket office/station.
For R283 I bought a card with a Sandton return journey ticket loaded, and was almost immediately whisked away by a fast, clean and most importantly, efficient train (so, so much nicer than the general public trains that Metrorail employs back in Cape Town) – with the journey to Sandton Station taking literally only fifteen minutes to achieve!
No traffic, no waiting, no fuss. In other words, definitely worth the ticket price then!
As for accommodation, I was booked a room in Tsogo Sun’s Garden Court Sandton City hotel, which is conveniently right next to the Convention Centre! (Meaning that for my short stay in Johannesburg I literally needed no transport other than the train between Sandton and the airport!)
Although the hotel passages are pretty dour and boring (as with any hotel I suppose), I was genuinely pleased with my room (216 for future reference) – it was spacious, comfortable and had a nice little work area too. The onsite restaurant, Riffs, is also pretty decent (I enjoyed a nice birthday steak there with the boss), as was the breakfast area (not that I got to use that very often mind you!).
So all good and efficient on that front then.
Now for the actual event itself. Hypenica pretty much had the run of the entire convention centre, taking up all the floors with the various functions and expos. I was of course involved with the registration/badge printing operations, which were situated on the 5th floor for the Coatings for Africa expo, and on the 1st floor for the Totally Concrete, African Construction Expo.
New to the game, I was amazed at the huge amount of behind the scenes work, logistics and client managing that has to happen in order to make these sort of events work, and to be quite honest a little out of my depth. However, my system worked brilliantly well, with us receiving a lot of positive comments around the speedy badge print and collection system.
In total, I was there for about three days, wandering around, assisting in setup/breakdown, manning badge stations, and tweaking the system on the fly.
On the whole, my system was a success, all of Hypenica’s events were a success, and I managed to navigate myself from Cape Town to Johannesburg, use the Gautrain and find the Sandton Convention Centre without getting lost – which in itself is a success. Plus, I also did that whole navigating thing in reverse to reach home all safe and sound.
So yeah, I kind of enjoyed the outing.
(I will however completely omit the fact that one evening I went out for a late night stroll and managed to get lost in one of Sandton’s trendy shopping malls – seriously, I could not find the exit. It literally took me an hour to try and find a way out and then find my hotel again. And this was literally just down the street…)