The new Millennial’s will change the exhibition business, they value the requirement to visit exhibitions and make contacts there. This will ensure the continuity of tradefair business and its further evolution for growth. ASHISH GUPTA, Director – MCO Winmark

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Q. What is the current state of Indian Exhibition Industry?
A.
With the significant growth and progress of the Indian economy, the Indian Exhibition industry has been growing as well. The Indian exhibition Industry is the biggest it has ever been and has been hosting top-class exhibitions one after the other. As the years pass by, the industry has seen business relationships being formed, new technologies being introduced in the market, bigger venues and providing innumerable countries to be part of bilateral trade in India. The ‘Make In India’ campaign has been benefited by the exhibition Industry largely. Various countries have been coming to India and introducing Indian businesses too new concepts, products and technologies. I can say this from personal experience as during China Homelifeand China Machinex India 2019, we were introduced to the concept of ‘Buy Factory from China’. The company provides an end to end solution for setting up a factory in India. They will set up machineries, provide manpower training and any requirement to set up a factory in India.

Q. What is the contribution of exhibition in MICE (business Tourism)? According to a report 54% of the travelers to India are business/Mice Travelers. What according to you is the contribution of exhibitions here?
A.
I think exhibitions play a minor role when it comes to travelling to India for a business. Only in exhibitions with pavilions of different countries or solo country shows, we see thousands of exhibitors flying down to India to showcase their product and find the correct importer.
Exhibitions act as a multi-purpose platform for both exhibitors and visitors. International companies can meet a plethora of Indian businesses and companies and vice versa.
Currently majority of Indian tradefairs in India are domestic with very low percentage of International visitors coming to the country for sourcing. Most of our neighboring countries prefer visiting European or other destination exhibitions to source or fulfill their needs. The visa-on-arrival opening up for several nations is a step in the right direction. Only the Conference sector is currently successful for getting International delegates. Stronger tourism policy, open internet information infrastructre for tourists, higher safety and security, easier foreign currency rules and regulations as well as large number of currency exchange centres, wider variety and availability of affordable hotels, are some of the things that could boost the International visitors to India.

Q. Exhibition enable business opportunities, can you give some examples to suffice this statement?
A.
Since the past few years, exhibitions have been hosting Matched B2B meetings between an exhibitor and a visitor. An exhibitor sends in requirements of what are they looking in a potential buyer, and then is matched with the correct buyer at the exhibition. There are special areas in the exhibition constructed, allotted only to these meetings. The timings and days are pre-fixed well in advance, so that exhibitor knows what he can expect from the exhibition.
Other than that, there are also VIP Buyer Programs organized, wherein exact matching suppliers were found for exhibitors six months in advance. They are top importers in the sector asked by the exhibitor, thus the targeted marketing and promotion is done well in advance to achieve optimum results.

Q. How have you seen the Indian Exhibition Industry evolve in last 3 years in terms of Exhibitor and visitor participation, Venue enhancement, satisfaction of participants, mindset of the stakeholders towards the industry and participation and support of the Government toward the industry?
A.
In the last 3 years, I have only seen bigger exhibitor and visitor participation, as the number of exhibitors increases so does the number of visitors. Venues have become better and bigger and more hospitable. Participants are happier and satisfied with the product range as qualities and innovations are increasing year by year. There has been a shakedown of the industry, lot of small exhibitions have sold their shows or amalgamated with the large MNC exhibition organizers. The new Millennial’s will change the exhibition business, they value the requirement to visit exhibitions and make contacts there. This will ensure the continuity of tradefair business. The Indian government has now opened its eyes and started acknowledging the existence of trade fairs. But policy changes to flourish this business from Government rules and regulations are still not available. There needs to be a nodal agency or officer dedicated to tradefair enhancement. Plethora of statutory agencies who are all not synchronized with each other deny exhibition organisers to interface quickly and effectively with compliance issues.

Q. What is the mindset of youth/millennials towards this industry?
A.
Youth/Millennials are very welcoming towards this industry. They are seen at the exhibitions exploring new innovations and building up their contacts for further business relationships.

Q. As an employer, how do you build/grow the careers of your employees?
A.
As an employer, I believe in giving the foreground to my employees. I believe that leadership and ownership of work cannot be taught but has to be instilled. Thus, I let them take reins of the show and take care of the bigger responsibilities and tasks whichtake place in a show. But at the same time, I also am there to guide and support them.
I think, providing them with responsibilities, helps them understand the workings of the industry on their own and makes them more capable individuals. Continuous training programs, both in-house and external are a regular regimen in my organization.

Q. How do you inspire your people in your team to give their best output?
A.
I inspire the people in my team, by telling them about my experiences in the industry and my failures, so that they know that anything can go wrong at any time, but at the same time I don’t interfere in their work processes. The task is given to them and they finish and get back to me. They have their own freedom, but are always welcome for my assistance.
I believe that instead of they being at my service, actually I am a resource available at their service. This increases their confidence and helps hem become more responsible. Further, whilst we may have disagreements internally from time to time, in front of the outsiders, I take the final

responsibility for things that sometime do go wrong and never pass the buck or avoid the issue by allowing team members to become a scapegoat. If they made the mistake, then it was due to low level of training imparted by me. All team members are empowered to take decisions and this keeps on increasing related to their constantly showing the correct approach in handling issues to a time where the work almost independently.

Q. What is going to be the game-changer for the industry in the coming time. Please state 4-5 critical points here and elaborate on the same.
A.
After SMS, the telecom industry was yet to come up with the next killer application. Whatsapp, Skype and Google changed all this. So there are limitless developments that are going on just now in the world, some of them I think will be:
AI will be a game-changer for the industry. AI will help getting rid of manual registration and the registration processes will be handled by a robot than a human. AI will also be used to guide a visitor around the show and help them meet the exact exhibitor they want to.
IVR services with top asked questions and answers will be the future.
Similar technologies that reduce human intervention at the same time deliver knowledge on demand will take precedence. On the cloud apps – no need to download apps in your handheld cluttering with the phone memory and clogging the home page.
Behaviour tagging for target audiences will become more and more relvant.
Data management and data mining will become more important.

Q. What are the major challenges which the industry must address to grow further? Please also highlight those challenges which you believe can come up in near future?
A.
Its difficult to forecast the challenges that will come up in future, please see some that I forsee, but this list is not exhaustive:
a. Security and ensuring safety of attendees will remain a priority with no compromise for all events taking place now and future.
b. Adoption of emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence will become mandatory.
c. Content will remain king – exhibition organizers will have to strive to make their events meaningful for both exhibitors and visitors.
d. People – hiring right team members and retaining talent will remain a strong challenge across the board for all companies.
e. Data acquisition, management will become priority.
f. Marketing will have to continuously evolve to retain top of the mind recall in this densely and over communicated world.

Q. What innovations, technology enhancement can industry integrate to engage the participants and increase the efficiency of Exhibitions?
A.
The industry can have a more integrated system for visitor and exhibitor guidance. I think, systems which let visitors print their own badges can be of a great advantage. Digital maps to take a visitor around the show, an integrated system for managing B2B meeting can be beneficial to a visitor. Business matching software is still evolving and a perfect fit has still not been achieved. RFID for tracking hotspots in exhibitions and tracking visits in individual stalls will be required.

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