Readers might be forgiven for thinking (and especially those waiting upon return phone calls) that the boss, Mick Goss, does little besides attend conferences. Tuesday he departed for the Echo Travel International Conference in Franschhoek in the Cape, (where he had the daunting task of having to occupy the shoes of his deeply-lamented pal, David Rattray, arguably the best orator and story-teller of all time.) Some 80 of the world’s top travel operators were there to hear the tales of Hartford House, Fugitives’ Drift and the marvellous Land of Legends, and then it was back on the plane for Zimbali, just north of Durban.
This spectacular coastal resort is the gathering ground on this weekend every year, of 75-odd of the Nation’s top businessmen, politicians and occasional government officials at the Moneyweb Ibandla, where the doors are closed (Chatham House rules, please) and some of the year’s most serious talking takes place. In an environment where the notion of “what goes on tour, stays on tour” is strictly adhered to, and in an atmosphere conducive to open discussion, the land’s most powerful and influential trade ideas on the country’s expectations.
While the conference only begins today, last evening luminaries of the ilk of Mark Lamberti (Makro, Massmart etc), Frederik Van Zyl Slabbert, Laurie Dippenaar (Rand Merchant Bank and Momentum), Paul Harris (First Rand), Andrew Feinstein (the “arms deal” whistle-blower), Eskom chairman and ex-Minister for the Environment, Valli Moosa, and Telkom chair, Shirley Arnold, had already “trickled” in.
This is going to be one helluva show, and if you can believe it, the convenor, Moneyweb’s Alec Hogg, just returned from Davos and Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway A.G.M., will be taking up residence at our own Hartford House on Sunday evening as his own Ibandla shuts down, for the opening of the annual Summerhill Group conference, taking place this time on home soil from Monday.
Alec Hogg’s address on Monday will obviously reflect on the state of the nation, but knowing him, it’ll be more about the big picture and the opportunities of this glorious land than anything else. And then we’ll get the chance to hear from our own home-grown talents who’ve elevated the Summerhill, Hartford and Vuma conference to one of our collective highlights of the year.
By Wednesday’s conclusion, Mick Goss will have been conferencing solidly at three different venues, several thousands of miles apart for 8 consecutive days. Let’s hope the heading to this column has no application – though there may be those that might wish it!