The Conference Company - Solid Groundwork Key to UNWTO



Solid groundwork was instrumental in the success of the 20th General Assembly of the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) which was co-hosted by Zambia and Zimbabwe at the Victoria Falls last week.

Nina Freysen-Pretorius, Chief Executive Officer of The Conference Company, Professional Conference Organiser (PCO) for the Zambian component of the conference, says the event was hugely challenging, yet very rewarding.

“The groundwork leading up to the conference was extensive.  We had to work closely with a variety of service providers, ranging from suppliers of basic infrastructure required for an event of this magnitude, to overseeing the implementation of the modern airport facilities, information technology and internet availability.”

The Conference Company deployed five staff members in Zambia for four weeks, following a series of project meetings since April.  Nine sub-committees in Lusaka and nine in Livingstone were eventually consolidated into one.

“Our scope of work included assistance with overall ground transportation logistics, set-up and coordination of plenary sessions, set-up of 38 fully-equipped UNWTO offices and accommodation arrangements for UNWTO staff, special advisors and VIPs.  We were also responsible for co-ordination of all the UNWTO meetings and special events.  

“We were also closely involved with the actual event branding and signage at the conference venue,” says Freysen-Pretorius, “as well as coordination and overseeing the installation and provision of WiFi internet.  Overall accommodation liaison with the official hotels and liaison regarding arrangements for technical tours was also our responsibility.”

According to Freysen-Pretorius the importance of seamless co-ordination of every aspect of an event that affects the delegates’ experience is of utmost importance. 

“An event of this size has tremendous legacy benefits for the destination and smooth delivery is crucial.  For six days, more than 800 delegates from 156 countries were exposed not only to the destination, but to the skills and professionalism of the people who make it a business events destination of choice.  The Conference Company is proud to have been part of the overall success of the conference,” she says.

The Conference Company, based in Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg was founded in 1997 and specialises in large-scale association conferences.  Freysen-Pretorius is the outgoing national chairperson of the Southern African Association for the Conference Industry (SAACI) and second vice president of the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA).

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