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BW Businessworld

'Exhibitions Are Treated As An Effective Catalyst For Growth Of A Nation's Economy'

In an interview with BW Businessworld, Yogesh Mudras, Managing Director, UBM India, talks about implementation of GST in exhibition industry and more

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How do we look at the future of Exhibition Industry in India? How will it grow within the next 10 years?
Today exhibitions are known to be important drivers of the national economic prosperity, generating 10x impact on the business of the companies, besides of course contributing to trade and investment outcomes, innovation, jobs creation and domestic and international visitations. According to UFI Global Association of Exhibition Industry, the Indian exhibition industry will grow at the rate of 12% per annum at Rs 65,000 crore with over 700 major trade shows organized every year.

The B2B information market is significantly different today. 15 years ago, people were questioning whether the end of face-to-face contact was near. However, the demand for the value of face-to- exhibitions today has risen sharply, generating outstanding results for businesses and helping grow business in multiple geographies. The recent implementation of GST by the government for introducing the unified tax will further enhance growth as it will save the industry from multiple taxations, and result in the seamless and efficient supply chain, especially in the emerging infrastructure of Tier II & III cities.

Since the exhibition industry is not provided with "Industry Status" in India yet, what are the challenges faced by the companies?
Globally, exhibitions are treated as an industry and they are an effective catalyst for growth of a nation's economy. For example, Germany leads the Exhibition space with almost 60% of their national business generated through Exhibitions. The Indian exhibition, in spite of fuelling economic growth, has not yet, been successful in attaining industry status in India and is still considered to be at a relatively nascent stage.

One of the key challenges of not having attained industry status is that it is unrecognized by the government and therefore, bound to be fragmented and unorganized apart from a few key players. Also, India does not have the proper infrastructure to conduct large exhibitions, with very few large venues of international standards. Venue creation holds the key to future growth, unleashing years of pent-up demand to take the industry growth to double digits. Another major concern is the health and safety of all exhibition organizers with heavy machines, and valuable products being brought in together in a limited area teaming with people on a regular basis. At UBM India, we work with very strict and sustainable norms and take precautions with regards to health and safety of the people to avoid any untoward incident.

With the stupendous growth of the industry, the demand for acquiring the right people with an expertise in managing a professionally executed trade exhibition is an ongoing challenge. With a status, professional institutes catering to the industry as well as the number of personnel are bound to grow.

What is your strategy to promote exhibition industry in India?

UBM India started its journey in India in the year 2006 with the vision of becoming the leading exhibition company in the country and build a strong community of buyers, sellers, thought leaders and policymakers to make a telling difference in the Indian economy. Today, UBM India hosts over 25 large-scale exhibitions, 40 conferences and 7 Industry awards across the country every year. Being the leading B2B exhibition and No. 1 international organizer company in India, today we are promoting the role of the exhibition and its importance to businesses with a presence in more than 15 sectors with the major focus on pharma, travel & renewable energy industry, jewellery and security providing high-quality events for these industries.

We actively associate with IEIA (Indian Exhibition Industry Association) and key stakeholders from the Central and State governments to advocate Exhibitions as a very important face to face platform where the entire industry connects under one roof, witnesses latest innovations and technology and have torchbearers of the industry provide insights into the potential and challenges of the domain. The Indian government has many initiatives such as Make in India, Skill India, Start-Up India, e-Biz Mission Mode Project and Invest India which we actively promote through our exhibitions, thereby enhancing India's image as a manufacturing hub.

What sectors, do you see have potential to bloom under exhibition industry and contribute to the economy? 
With an increase in disposable incomes, the lifestyle sector particularly, Health & Beauty and Food are destined to have a vast potential.  Similarly, with an increasing awareness about health and hygiene coupled with changing consumption habits, demand for fresh foods, and increasing consumption of processed and branded food packaging as an industry looks interesting from a growth perspective as India is currently at the bottom end of the curve. We will be launching three new shows catering to these three sectors this year.

What are the trends and innovation we see in the Indian exhibition industry?
The exhibition market in India has a promising future and is destined to grow. The policy of the Indian government and its bureaucracy is gradually changing, allowing private stakeholders and the foreign investors to invest and develop business more easily. The economy of India which is the world's seventh-largest economy by nominal GDP and the third-largest by purchasing power parity (PPP) is growing by leaps and bounds and the Indian exhibition industry is among those, which has benefited the most. It has entered a modernization and growth phase. New tradeshows are organized, new exhibition centres are built, and the market is opening up to foreign investors for both the organization of exhibitions and the operation of venues, making this a pulsating multi-crore industry.

With an increase in the use of innovative and technology advancement in the exhibition space, we at UBM India, to enhance the face-to-face interaction at the exhibitions used technology to make the face to face interactions more exciting and lucrative.  Some of the path-breaking tech initiatives we have used at UBM India exhibitions are, Supplier Finder, online TV channel, Tech Walls, Live Streaming, Mobile Apps, Matchmaking for pre-fixed meetings and we have envisaged UBM India as imbibing the best of both: British precision and stringency, matched with Asian vibrancy, colour and passion.

What challenges you face in terms of skills and talent among employees in the industry?
One of the biggest challenges we face is the lack of knowledge about exhibitions due to the lack of 'industry status' for the exhibition industry. Fewer training and development courses at the root level has widened this gap. We generally look for detail oriented, team oriented, customer focussed, and strategic planners in our teams.  An employee should have the ability to follow the timelines as well as be able to perform on multiple tasks.  Exhibitions sometimes can be exhausting and therefore we look for someone who has a "can-do" spirit.

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