Ministry of Tourism has a policy sanctioning Rs.5 crores to every state government for building one convention centre through a public-private partnership model. Many private players are coming up to cater to the emerging demands of corporate events. V. ANBU, Director General, Indian Machine Tools Manufacturers’ Association

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Q. What is the current state of Indian Exhibition Industry?
A
. Indian exhibition industry grew by around 8 – 10% during 2018. The market size was approximately 75 million square metres and around 750 exhibitions were conducted during the year. The sector although a bit unorganized is making efforts to tap the enormous potential offered by its growing economy. As organizations build up new venues to hold international exhibitions we would see more exhibitions getting organized within India which will positively impact the country’s growth in myriad ways.

Q. What is the contribution of exhibition in MICE (business Tourism)?
A.
MICE business thrives on exhibitions. Gone are the days when largescale events were held without exhibitions. A change is in the air in MICE industry. Every conference is attached with an important exhibition. This is so as exhibitions have created an experiential marketing space for the MICE industry. This has attracted visitors to MICE segment and increased the revenue and contribution to the economy of the country.

Q. Exhibition enable business opportunities and infrastructure development. Can you give some examples to suffice this statement?
A.
Exhibitions create business opportunities and is a major source of revenue generation for government as well as private entities. With the increase in inbound corporate events, stakeholders are keen to invest in convention centres across the country. Ministry of Tourism has a policy sanctioning Rs.5 crores to every state government for building one convention centre through a public-private partnership model. Many private players are constructing hotels and convention centres with MICE facilities to cater to the emerging demands of corporate events. Unserved and underserved airports in partnership with state governments are undergoing an overhaul to make smaller cities accessible for business travellers. Also many airports are undergoing capacity improvements for better service.

Q. How have you seen the Indian Exhibition Industry evolve in last 3 years?
A.
Indian exhibition industry has seen good growth in the last 2-3 years driven by economic growth and various initiatives by the government to promote infrastructure and policy reforms. The industry is on the cusp of undergoing further transformation with rapid scale globalisation and entry of international events which primarily focus on strengthening manufacturing and industrial consumption. The exhibition sector is also poised to grow with growth of existing events, organizing of new events targeted at emerging sectors and entry of international firms and exhibition brands. Venues are bracing up to significantly increase their infrastructure capacity. Stakeholders are realizing the importance of exhibitions and taking informed decisions. FDI inflows have increased and we are seeing that foreign investors are confident of investing in India. Government’s focus on ease of doing business helped India’s ranking to improve. India is ranked 77th in World Bank’s ease of doing business index. With stronger reforms and policy push the country can move up further.

Q. What is the mind-set of youth/millennials towards this industry?
A.
Events industry has opened up a large set of opportunities for the youth to consider working in exhibition industry as a serious profession. The changing dynamics of marketing with the advent of exhibitions has enabled the growth of exhibition industry in India. Many international exhibition organizers from other countries are entering the Indian market which are providing ample opportunities for Indian youth to work in this industry. Since exhibition industry is increasingly leaning towards using technology enabled marketing tools for event promotion educated youth are finding this as an avenue where their skills will be utilized.

Q. As an employer, how do you build the careers of your employees?
A.
Employees have to align themselves to the broader vision of the organization. It is also important that employee skills are enhanced through proper training. This ensures that the workforce strictly adhere to the work culture and meet the organizational objectives. Companies also need to give adequate attention to the personal growth of their employees and provide them motivation through perks.

Q. What is going to be the game-changer for the industry in the coming time?
A.
Engagement: Exhibitors’ engagement with visitors is one of the key aspects where success of exhibitions lie. Participation alone may not give the desired results. Organizers need to travel the extra mile in educating exhibitors and visitors to make an exhibition more successful and increase its relevance. Technology: Social media and digital technologies are fast catching up and becoming major tools in garnering results across target markets. The days of personal visits to office, mailing, etc. are becoming obsolete. Today event organizers tap into their target audience through one-to-one crisp messaging. This is changing the dynamics of exhibition marketing. Focus: Exhibitions tapping target markets and taking exhibitions closer to the user industries and user markets are creating the desired effect. This is a new trend in exhibition industry. We also see that exhibitions in India are no longer confined to metro cities but are held in Tier 2 cities and other smaller towns as well.
Skills: Education and skill development for exhibition professionals are gaining more traction as industry wants to employ workforce with skills rather than hire unskilled or semi-skilled workforce and retrain them. Exhibitions and MICE subjects are becoming a part and parcel of some of the courses offered in educational institutions that would infuse more professionals into the market and the exhibition industry will get a better facelift in the years to come.

Q. What are the major challenges which the industry must address to grow further?
A.
Infrastructure development of exhibition venues will be a topmost concern to move to the next level. Investments in this area will be crucial and government should take the lead for this as we see in Europe. Standards and codes for exhibition industry is a requisite. This would enhance quality of services for service providers. Theme protection to curb competition and move towards healthier growth of exhibitions is necessary. Industry should move towards becoming a more organized sector with every stakeholder of exhibition industry following the guidelines framed by exhibition industry associations in various areas including IT related services, HR, theme protection, and so on. This would give a direction to the growth of the industry and build a consensus. Integrative growth of exhibition industry with city infrastructure and other allied support services is another area to look upon. Industry should work closely with other stakeholders and the government to get better attention and also press for attaining industry status.

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