The Johannesburg Expo Centre – adaptability during crisis times
No-one could have predicted, planned or strategised for the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the MICE industry or the economy as a whole, but during times of crises business flexibility and ability to adapt and modify their service offering ensures survival.
As part of the international GL Events Group venues network, the JEC was privileged to have visibility of the looming crisis through the venues in Japan and Europe early in 2020. Assessing the possible impact and being cognisant that it was only a question of time before Covid 19 reached South African shores, we rallied the teams to start working on the design of new offers to sustain the venue through the possible downtime. After many weeks of planning and proposing various solutions to the Gauteng Departments of Health and Infrastructure, we received confirmation that the venue would be used as an isolation and quarantine facility. Even though we continuously remained hopeful that the pandemic would not escalate drastically in South Africa we were thankful for the opportunity to offer our support whilst sustaining the venue.
The first phase of the facility will be accommodated in the spacious Hall 6, 12,300m² of space allowing the configuration of more than 400 beds and multiple Isolation rooms. The facility includes the installation of shell scheme partitioning, electrical configuration, beds, consultation rooms and ablution units. Leveraging off our strong existing supplier relationship we managed to conclude the installation in record time and provide much-needed income to companies in our industry that would have otherwise been on complete shutdown.
We all know the saying of ‘last minute dot com’ in the events and exhibitions space, and it is exactly this rapid response mentality that placed the venue and its suppliers in a position to deliver on a project of this scale in a short period.
The JEC is always referred to as a truly unique events and exhibitions centre and the current Covid-19 project reaffirms the flexibility of the venue. The design and construction of the venue over 30 years ago were done with a long term vision in mind and this foresight today enables us to configure the venue to suit almost any purpose.
We are thankful to support the greater good by facilitating space for people in need during this critical time, offering work to sustain companies in the MICE industry whilst being able to ensure the continued employment of our teams.
The project has been a welcome challenge and we applaud our staff, sub-contractors and everyone involved for their dedication and commitment to date. It has truly been a great experience to see how our teams and the teams of our subcontractors collaborated to meet the deadlines.