‘We treat conferences as an event, to bring happiness to attendees’, says Kogin Naicker of Champagne Sports Resort

Kogin Naicker runs the world-class conferencing facilities at Champagne Sports Resort. He joined BizNews founder Alec Hogg to discuss the conferencing facilities in offer at the luxury resort. With up to 16 venues and boardrooms, the team is able to offer clients numerous possibilities, with the benefit of being cosseted by the majestic Drakensberg mountains. For more info on the BizNews Investment Conference taking place in the Drakensberg next week, click here. – Jarryd Neves

Kogin Naicker on conferencing:

It’s not specifically Excel spreadsheets. As much as conferencing seems that way, you could be very much inclined not to make it that way. That’s what we create Champagne Sports Resort. Yes, you do have content that needs to be on spreadsheets – you need to focus on numbers. But what we’ve designed, at Champagne Sports Resort, is a whole different spectrum of conferencing.

We’ve got stuff like blue sky sessions, where you sit outside with no screen in front of you and you come up with ideas. There’s nothing affecting your thought pattern. When you’re sitting in an office or  in front of a screen, if someone asks you a question, you’re going to use Google quickly to find the answer. When you’re sitting outside in a blue sky session, then you’re using your mind and trying to create concepts without other influences.

That’s what we try to do – especially for people from Johannesburg. Because you’ve travelled for four hours from the city to get to the ‘berg. You don’t want to be locked inside a venue conferencing, because we believe that’s not the correct way to get your messages out. We like to use our entire property – which is 284 hectares 0 and get you to use the space, use the time and become one with nature. Think about everything that you could offer to your company as an individual. Then when you leave, hopefully it’s opened up some horizons for you.

On the conference facilities:

We’ve got 16 conference venues in total, with our largest being 1,200 sq ft and our smallest being a boardroom that can comfortably accommodate 18 people. With regards to functions, the largest corporates that we’ve done plaited dinners for was 1,022 people.

We have a large complement of staff that’s permanently employed by Champagne Sports Resort. We also have training programme’s throughout the year, because we have these big requests for conferences. We have training programme’s that specifically focus on kitchen staff, waitering staff and service staff. When needed, they become intermittent staff that come in to assist us.

We are very proud to say that between 80% – 90% of our clients are return business. Once you’re at Champagne Sports, we believe that what we can offer you 100% make you want to come back.

On hosting conferences during Covid-19:

I think with the majority of our clients being the big conferencing, that’s been put on hold at the moment. Not cancelling, because people want that person interaction. It’s moved to the latter part of 2021. But with regards to the small ones, we’re sticking within the regulations of fifty people per conference and that’s what we’re going for now.

So the smaller companies that want to bring their groups out to conference or the larger corporates that want to bring the Exco or Manco team out, we are comfortable in managing those conferences at the number of fifty. As mentioned, with the sixteen conference venues, we have large spaces that we can put you in, so that you’re not really close. We’ll manage or maintain that social distancing aspect that the government wants us to at the moment.

On Covid-19 precautions:

From the time you enter, with the screening process to sanitiser on your table, to the fogging machines that we’ve purchased to sanitise these rooms in between tea and lunch breaks. It’s all available. Our chefs have worked on incredible menus that you don’t need to be inside a restaurant. You can be outside in the fresh air and maintain social distancing.

We are one of the few resorts that have stuck to buffets. Again, our chef designed menus that you can still get the buffet experience, but the chefs serve you your buffet meals. There’s only one person touching. It’s something very necessary at the moment, but we have buzzer’s around the resort. When it goes off and all our staff goes off to sanitise their hands, just to get people in that mindset of always sanitising and making sure that the safety aspect is there.

Since we’ve opened, we’ve had conferences that have come in and the response has been very positive. From corporates and CEOs to MDs of corporations that are they’re happy with what we have to show them. That includes being out on the road, marketing. We show people what we’ve done because we’ve videoed it along the way, just to show people that peace of mind – that this is what we have to offer you.

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