Transforming Exhibitions to re-establish the B2B connect: Raj Manek

The Exhibition Industry will undergo dynamic changes in the wake of new health and safety measures writes Raj Manek, Managing Director, Messe Frankfurt Trade Fairs India Pvt Ltd.

Raj Manek, Managing Director, Messe Frankfurt Trade Fairs India Pvt Ltd.

The Indian exhibition industry has been a major hotbed for businesses to converge, communicate, collaborate and discover new products and technologies from a wide range of sectors. With businesses gradually re-opening over the last couple of weeks post Unlock1.0, the Indian Exhibition industry players are waiting for a positive nod from the government to allow re-opening of exhibitions in India.

As one of the leading exhibition organisers in the country, Messe Frankfurt India believes that unlike other ‘Mass Gathering events', the exhibition industry should be categorised as facilitators of “Professional Gatherings”, since trade fair organisers can create a safe and controlled environment for B2B interactions. In fact, standard protocols for operating exhibitions during such unprecedented times have been extensively discussed, shared and moreover presented by the Indian Exhibition Industry Association (IEIA) to the government authorities.

As a responsible player in the global trade fair industry, Messe Frankfurt India is committed to delivering a safe and conducive environment for business exchange across all of its trade shows, and like other players in the industry, has been strongly working towards developing standard protocols which will be executed as soon as the authorities give a green signal to the exhibition industry to re-open. Some of the key SOPs set to be implemented by Messe Frankfurt for their Exhibitions in India would involve ensuring the exhibitions halls are suitably sanitized prior to the set-up days and during show days, installation of hands-free sanitizers at strategic locations on the show floor, enhanced cleaning and sanitisations of public restrooms, compulsory use of mask for all participants, meticulous temperature checks on entry and exit gates of the halls, pre-registration of visitors with limited number restricted per day, widening aisles to allow adequate distancing, isolation chamber for suspected visitors, tie ups with nearby hospitals for thermal check-up and immediate medical assistance, fixed exhibitor badges to avoid overcrowding at assigned booths, self-registration digital kiosk at the entrance for VIP buyers among others.

With the increasing need for physical distancing, the way future exhibitions are organised will drastically change and implementation of new health and safety protocols will become a major necessity. In adherence with the new SOPs, Messe Frankfurt’s role as a responsible exhibition organiser will be to create an ambience that can provide the 'personal touch' of professional interaction without the need for 'physical contact’. Moving forward, the role of the Exhibition industry as a whole will also become much more significant in terms of rebuilding customer connections, supporting the exchange of knowledge and technology as well as restoring business continuity and growth in the economy.

Apart from the need for instituting health and safety measures, the pandemic has also augmented the importance of digital integration in every industry, including exhibitions. Enabling payment, registration and scheduling of meetings through mobile device; replacing frequently circulated mediums like visiting cards, brochures, catalogues and other materials with digital data will aid in creating a contactless system which can further give means to safe and convenient networking.

With a history of organising trade fairs for 780 years, Messe Frankfurt is the world’s largest trade fair, congress and event organiser with its own venue, serving high-growth segments across Mobility, Automation, Textiles, Lighting, Building Technologies, Consumer Goods, Manufacturing, Entertainment Media and Creations, Safety and Security, Food Processing and Environmental Technology sectors in around 190 countries. 

Delivering value across such a wide plethora of sectors, the Exhibition industry not only offers business value to its exhibitors and visitors, but also, supports trade and employment opportunities in allied segments of aviation, hospitality, restaurants and hotels, and public transportation. The Exhibition industry is therefore without a doubt, a major creator of employment and a prominent contributor to the economy. As business operations slowly resume in the coming months, right implementation of safety measures and urgent need for economic recuperation will definitely enable the Indian exhibition industry to emerge as a catalyst for resurgence of businesses in India.

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