Sun International looks set to fill a huge industry gap in the South African conferencing and events industry with its new conferencing and eventing concept, SunPark.
A completely new concept in large scale events, the new SunPark, the first of which opened at Sun City recently, provides event organisers with the first ever fully scalable multipurpose facility with an indoor events venue and outdoor space for hosting lifestyle events, music festivals, conferences product launches and the like. GrandWest’s SunPark in Cape Town will launch in October, followed by two other Sun International – Sibaya in KwaZulu-Natal and Carnival City in Gauteng.
The difference lies in its versatility - the new modular design of the entertainment space allows conference, events, or festival organisers to “plug in” their requirements and change the nature and look of the space depending on their needs – and depending on the size of event they’re holding.
The infrastructure, electricity supply and IT needs are all flexible, which means the space can be transformed extremely quickly into endless options. Because of this design concept, it is also highly affordable, which sets it apart from other venues currently on offer in South Africa.
The new “plug in” system enables the areas to be transformed into multiple themed-options, and will allow Sun International’s venues to be able to attract any number of event concepts.
Says Sun International’s Group GM Brand and Communications Michael Farr says, “Over the past 15 years, there has been a substantial growth in the consumer festival and event industry as well as a growing tendency towards boutique and specialised event concepts and brand activation initiatives. All of these are dependent on suitable and accessible venues.
“Existing exhibition and conference facilities in South Africa are primarily geared towards major event concepts and there are very few venues which cater specifically or can be transformed for small to medium boutique events – and this market currently represents well over 80% of all event activities in South Africa.
“The new SunParks are completely flexible from a space, design and facilities point of view and will be geared towards sports events, product and motor industry launches, trade and industry functions, musical festivals and outdoor theatre, government and parastatal functions, corporate celebrations,, small to medium boutique exhibitions and festivals, fashion shows, expos and more.
“This is a very fresh idea that to date, no venue in South Africa has been able to offer. There’s even space to create Fanzones for sporting events.
“Before we decided to go ahead with the SunPark concept, we consulted very broadly with those who are normally tasked with organising both large and medium sized events, including event companies, public relations companies, ad agencies, exhibition organisers, and professional conference organisers . They all spoke to the dire need for sophisticated and cost effective venues that are more flexible to their needs and provide them with the freedom to create the exact kind of space they’re looking for.
“Quite apart from that, there is a shortage of good venues in South Africa, with many booked out months in advance and those remaining presenting challenges to organisers – like inadequate parking, lack of security, lighting inadequacies or lack of service infrastructure. SunParks solve all of these problems.
“Those we consulted said that service infrastructure in particular was often the main problem in that the cost of setting up and running events in suitable venues is very costly. SunPark’s new plug-in event arenas are specifically designed to streamline the organisational and implementation process that event organisers are constantly having to deal with – at a much more affordable cost.
“Judging from the reaction to date in introducing the new concept to event organisers, we believe SunPark will be widely welcomed by the industry and usher in a new era of eventing in this country. They will be particularly popular with the MICE industry, which is so critical to the tourism economy.”
The construction of the SunPark at Sun City is part of a R1bn upgrade of the entire complex. Sun International has made a considerable investment to recapture its place as the premier convention venue in the country, which they are confident they will do.
“Sun City started life as the iconic complex for South Africans and tourists alike, and up to that point, nothing like it had ever been seen in South Africa – or since. We have seen many changes to the complex since 1979 when the resort was built, notably the construction of The Palace of the Lost City, but there have been significant upgrades to the complex over the years. Our aim is to keep refreshing all our offerings at the complex to make sure we stay current with the needs and aspirations of our guests. Sun City remains really popular with locals, visitors and convention delegates,” says Farr.