Marketing expert Leatitia van Straten has been elected as the new chairperson of the Association of African Exhibition Organisers (AAXO), replacing Carol Weaving, who has headed the association since its inception in 2015.
Van Straten, who has served as Marketing Director at Terrapinn and is now Marketing Director of Specialised Exhibitions Montgomery, was instrumental in founding AAXO and sat on its Board of Directors since inception. She has been listed on the International Who’s Who multiple times as an expert in her field, and has been recognised as one of the Top 40 Women in the MICE industry.
“I have big shoes to fill, as Carol has done an amazing job in getting the association on its feet over the past three years,” says van Straten. She notes that AAXO is growing well and delivering on its original goals of conducting thorough industry research, growing its pan-African representation and serving both as a voice of the exhibition industry and a barometer of its standards.
“We have made progress in introducing ethical guidelines, protecting exhibitors, delivering knowledge sharing and education and promoting exhibitions,” she says. “Going forward, we will continue this work and strive to increase our membership both in South Africa and across Africa. As a marketer, my focus will likely also be on increasing awareness of the value of exhibitions as part of the marketing mix. Unfortunately, in a constrained economy, organisations tend to cut their marketing budgets. AAXO will step up its efforts to illustrate the marketing value and real ROI exhibitions can offer.”
The newly elected AAXO board includes industry experts Leatitia van Straten – Chairperson, Projeni Pather – vice Chair, Phil Woods – Treasurer, Elaine Crewe, Dee Reuvers, Chanelle Hingston and Nomathemba Ndlovu.