DURBAN INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION CENTRE (DURBAN ICC)
The Durban International Convention Centre (ICC) has a wonderful story of which the eThekwini Municipality and the citizens of Durban can be justly proud. The conference centre has its roots in Operation Jumpstart, which was a collective created to kick-start development in the city and region in the 1990s. They proposed the construction South Africa’s first international convention centre in Durban.
Durban ICC Marketing, Sales and Events Director, Scott Langley says, “They took this bold step based on the belief that the country would be welcomed back into the international community. They had seen the impact that international convention centres could have as a catalyst for economic development and development in major cities globally.”
The decision to build the centre was made in 1992, and the first phase of the development of the Durban International Convention Centre commenced. At the time, the Durban ICC was one of the single largest investments made by the City of Durban and represented a statement of confidence by the city fathers and the people of Durban in the future growth and development of the city.
The current CEO, Lindiwe Rakharebe says, “We would not be where we are today as a city if they hadn’t the centre.” November 1994 saw the turning of the first sod for construction of the Durban ICC by the then Premier KwaZulu-Natal, Dr Frank Mdlalose. The Durban ICC officially opened on 8 August 1997 by President Nelson Mandela who commended the people of KZN for foresight in building the centre.
Lindiwe Rakharebe, known as the “mother of the house”, is passionate about the Durban ICC. Her enthusiasm the Durban ICC filters through all levels of staff and attitude separates the Durban ICC from other parallel centres, ensuring its success. Says Lindiwe, “We need to make sure that when we open the doors to our customers that they experience the warmth and the great service that we have at the Durban ICC.”
Acting Facilities Director Siphiwe Khuzwayo, added, “The facility that we run is world class; there is a lot of effort behind the scenes to make sure that the Durban ICC is kept at a five-star level so that visitors have a ‘wow’ experience.” “I think our leadership is good because not only do we have people inspiring us to do our best, but we are also making the other levels, leaders in their own right. We are not there to control every action,” says Finance and Commercial Director, Melanie Rambally.
While the Durban ICC is 100% owned by the eThekwini Municipality, the management team works collectively to make sure that the centre is well managed. “Although the Durban ICC is a public entity, it is a business, and must be run in an efficient, credible and commercially sustainable manner,” says Lindiwe.
A key focus of the leadership team is on balancing its operational costs and its uncompromising commitment to compliance. The Durban ICC is proud of its good financial status as well as the five consecutive clean audits that it has received. The ICC won the SAICA award for Excellence in Municipal Finance Management - 3 Consecutive Clean Audits in 2018.
The dedicated staff at Durban ICC are event specialists and strive to support patrons, delegates and visitors. “We keep our communication channels open with the clients, getting feedback, and hearing new ideas. We also make enhancement suggestions for their events so that we can take them to the next level,” ays Scott. The staff make sure that every event is a success. They are prepared to work very late hours and are back on duty early the next day,” commented Siphiwe.
Lindiwe added that the staff show the meaning of Ubuntu. “I’ve seen my team going the extra mile, doing things that are not supposed to be doing, to ensure that people are happy. It’s not only laying tables and serving food. The support, the smiles and hugs from our team is just amazing.”
“Our goal is not only to meet our clients but to exceed the expectations of the clients. Customer service is at the heartbeat of what we try to do every day. We might welcome a guest as a patron or a delegate, but we really want to send them home as an ambassador for the Durban ICC and for Durban as well. It is up to us to give them that world class experience,” explains Scott.
The Durban ICC has a positive energy which makes it a good place to be. “That partnership of understanding what their needs are, the expertise that we bring is a real recipe for success for our clients,” says Melanie. The Durban ICC is ranked in the top 1% of all convention centres globally and is the only convention centre on the African continent to make that list. The centre has won numerous awards over the years. These include: World Travel Awards: Africa’s Leading Meetings and Conference Centre for 17 times of the 18 times the award has been running and a KZN Premier’s Service Excellence Award in 2018.
The Durban ICC is aware that 4th Industrial Revolution provides opportunities to change its customer experiences. In the future, virtual conferencing may be more prevalent, which will allow conversations to be taken to a much a wider audience. The Durban ICC intend to be a flexible and accommodating partner in packaging this content for those delegates and other individuals who are not present in person to participate in the knowledge sharing. Technology brings infinite possibilities to changing people’s lives in South Africa.