2021- A breakthrough year for Indian Trade Fair Industry

The pace of change has been unforeseen over the past 18 months, it has affected every field and almost every element of life.

The new technologies were never so acceptable to humans like today. The B2B trade fair (Exhibition) industry continues to evolve dramatically through emergence and adoption of new technologies. Digital transformation is defining new trends in exhibitions industry. Soon, we will be saying goodbye to one of the most dramatic year of our life and like many other industries, Exhibitions will also transform for the better. There are very important learnings in this year and one of the most important lesson learned in the pandemic is the need for having human connection and how vital it is for the survival and evolution of mankind.

The many waves of covid left important learnings for exhibition industry that has the power to shape the future of this industry.

Face to Face will remain the most preferred way of business meetings

Over the last decade, technologies made huge inroads in our life’s. Some industries, products vanished from the markets whereas others must contemplate the very idea of their existence. One industry that got severely impacted by the pandemic was B2B trade fair industry. Almost no business for a year, many small-time exhibition organizers were forced to close the shop. But post second wave, industry made an honest attempt to reinvent to re-start the exhibitions. In last four months, many exhibitions were organized and almost everyone got a fantastic response from the attendees which put an end to the forever going debate and re-affirm that face to face interaction will always remain the most preferred way of doing business meetings.

Digital products will stay and support F2F exhibitions

For long digital products were knocking the doors of exhibition industry but found no takers. Probably the best thing that happened in the pandemic is the evolution of digital products and its acceptance by the industry. Digital products will only strengthen the exhibition industry. Earlier digital products are perceived as threats by many and now, they all are putting their weight behind digital products to not only create a new line of revenue but also ensure yearlong sustained revenue. Although it was forced on to exhibitions organizers but now, they are happily married.

H&S (Health and Safety) will be new game in the industry

There has never been a focused H&S guideline for exhibitions. Different organizers employ different H&S measures in the exhibition’s venue. As we all know that almost 70% of exhibitions business unorganized, there is big disparity in H&S standards. Finally, Government while allowing B2B exhibitions issued guidelines to be mandatorily followed at all exhibitions. This has helped to ensure minimum H&S benchmark for all organizers. I believe, government of India will continue strengthening the guidelines to ensure H&S in coming years.

Government acknowledging Exhibitions are not mass gathering

One of the positive that covid-19 gifted to the exhibition industry is that finally it found its identity among different industry peers. For the first time, GOI specifically differentiated B2B exhibitions from other events and allowed organizing of B2B exhibitions. This validates the fact that exhibitions are not mass gatherings. This will certainly infuse a new energy of motivation among the stakeholders including investors. If you wish to understand why exhibition is not mass gathering, you can refer to my blog https://atomic-temporary-181279088.wpcomstaging.com/2020/09/10/exhibitions-must-not-be-considered-as-mass-gatherings/

Sustainability is Key

Exhibitions organizers for the longest time remained invested in one line of business and when covid knocked them, there had no place to hide. Because of this, many exhibitions’ companies had to cut salaries, do layoffs and worst- force to close the company. Learned through the pandemic, Exhibition companies must create alternate line of business which can support them to sail through the difficult time. Digital products will play a pivotal role in ensuring the desired sustainability.

While temporarily, Covid pandemic badly impacted B2B exhibition industry, I believe in longer run, it will do more good to exhibitions industry. However, there is still a pain point that continue hurting the exhibition industry.

Need for state-of-the-art venues: Exhibitions is the congregations of intellectuals, business heads and influential trade professionals from across the globe however India has only few venues which has the necessary infrastructure for organizing exhibitions. Others are makeshift exhibition venues converted out of warehouses or temporary hangars. It doesn’t have venues which can accommodate very large-scale exhibitions. Countries which aspire to be manufacturing hub have created state of the art venues to demonstrate and market their product to the world. The best examples are China and Germany. India lagging far behind from other countries when it comes to venue infrastructure. At exhibitions, one showcases the cultural, manufacturing, and other prowess of the country. It’s one area Government must invest heavily to stimulate the dream of India becoming a manufacturing hub.

Exhibitions drives business: Exhibitions brings investment, drives business, and importantly facilitate cultural exchanges. Very few politicians understood this powerful yet a very simple concept. Present PM of India Shri. Narendra Modi fully understood the power of exhibitions in driving business and fetching investments. He should be credited for familiarizing common man with B2B exhibitions. Vibrant Gujarat has termed as the engine for transforming Gujarat into a developed state. His government also organized Make in India to showcase the might of India’s manufacturing. It’s a known fact the exhibitions provide many jobs to daily wagers, be it car painter, driver, restaurants etc. Industries like hotels & Tourism thrive on exhibitions. Time is high that GOI acknowledges the contribution of Exhibition industry in building the nation. It will motivate more state and private players to foray in this line of business.

Approach is everything! Trade Fair industry has transformed over the last 18 months, and the speed of transition isn’t going to lessen. With an open, inquisitive, intellectually mindset that puts people and value at heart of everything B2B exhibitions do, I think B2B exhibitions industry will rise to its potential in coming years.

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