'A lot has happened since the last year that wreaked havoc on global tourism, travel, the hospitality industry and the economy.'
With the downfall of the MICE Industry due to the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic, the events and exhibition industry has also faced immense complications. But looking at a positive note, the vaccination drive could bring the silver lining to the industry. The exhibition industry has always acted as a solution provider and given other organizations a platform to interact with each other even during pandemic. Moreover, the Global Exhibitions Day on 2nd June recognised the important role that trade exhibitions play in driving economies throughout the world. In an exclusive conversation with the Financial Express Online Yogesh Mudras, Managing Director, Informa Markets talked about the impact of COVID-19 on the Events & Exhibition industry, how to come out of it and more. excerpts:
What is the overview of the Global Exhibitions Day this year, especially when India is going through tough times?
The Global Exhibitions Day (GED) is observed every year and is aimed at highlighting the role of the exhibition industry in anchoring global economies. This year too, the sixth annual GED recognizes the important role that trade exhibitions play in driving economies throughout the world. The COVID-19 pandemic has had significantly detrimental, and potentially long-term, effects on the global economy, across nearly all business sectors and regions. Exhibitions have traditionally played a role in bolstering and growing economic sectors, but this year they will play a new role – rebuilding and recovering communities. The 2021 GED campaign will focus on just how instrumental exhibitions are in creating platforms for growth and recovery, while also instilling confidence in others to participate in organized events that prioritize safety and success in equal measure.
How has the Covid-19 impact changed business travel forever?
Business travel has consistently been a fundamental part of corporate life and significantly so in trade exhibitions where the organiser and their vendors, stakeholders and attendees congregate at a venue from varying geographical regions — often from overseas. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has been driving organizations to supplant face-to-face meetings with virtual editions leading to the hybrid version combining both, so that stakeholders and businesses do not suffer. For the rebuilding phase, business travel and the concept of vaccine passport is expected to be widely monitored by organisations and colleagues expected to travel only when unavoidable – this will be cost effective as well as compliant to protocols laid by the government while an increasing number of the population get vaccinated.
What is the major impact of Covid-19 on the MICE Industry and how do you foresee the recovery in this industry?
A lot has happened since the last year that wreaked havoc on global tourism, travel, the hospitality industry and the economy. It would be beneficial to observe industry trends which will shape their recovery. A crucial objective for the MICE industry is that it boosts trade, innovation and revenue for local economies directly and indirectly because tourists spend at hotels, while also purchasing locally produced goods and crafts. The two major tools for recovery will really have to be about technology and safety. The industry needs to leverage technology in creative ways when serving their customers and also needs to develop new policies and reboot their services to focus on health and hygiene.
There’s time before it can be business-as-usual for India’s tourism sector. However, technology can address critical needs such as contactless travel, immunity passports, airlines and hotels adopting new ways of operating, and lucid communication with consumers about safety protocols. Of utmost help would be an intense immunisation programme, improved health infrastructure and optimal venues. The faster we can have these elements underway, the easier we will be able to send out a more convincing message of India’s readiness to boost business.
How is Informa Markets in India motivating and engaging their employees?
Keeping up the morale and motivation of organizations amidst disease, loss, lockdowns, uncertainty, economic crisis and a completely different mode of work has been an onerous task. What we did find was that the team was self-motivated to find meaning at work during this crisis and this helped us create a framework for them to stay bonded in the face of crisis, comprehend the happenings around them, and progress and solve the situation from their side.
We started the Work from Home system after deliberation, planning & forming a core committee before the Government announced that it would be mandatory to do so. We kept the team updated through weekly blogs, regular town halls, marketing meets, upskilling and training, and also created platforms for fitness meets & informal conversations as a group. We also organized external motivators and health experts to guide the team. All these made us achieve a tremendous amount of output in the form of over 125 digital events, as well as live events, when the time was right. We advocated for a safe restart as well as created the unique AllSecure – a safety standard that would safeguard the Health and Safety of stakeholders, in line with the government’s guidelines to ensure a smooth, secured experience for exhibitors and visitors.
Furthermore, recognising that the health of the economy derives from the health of the community, Informa Markets in India has also announced a vaccination drive for all employees and their families apart from a donation drive.
All these aspects, we hope, have created a trust and purpose among our team members, who are now awaiting and working for the return of physical exhibitions, circumstances permitting, along with virtual events.
What are the upcoming trends and future outlook for the exhibitions industry?
The exhibitions industry will go through an enormous change with organizers and venues adjusting to the new world that COVID has brought. Physical events, now boosted by the digital corpus, will always remain relevant as could be seen from the pent up demand when we delivered the travel and tourism expo, SATTE in March. Professionals in different sectors are curious, prefer the touch and feel aspect of products, and view networking as more than just a clinical process. You cannot do without the face-to-face aspects in some key sectors such as food ingredients, leisure, or where large machines are involved. The industry is surviving, and we hope that it will recover at a fast pace after these shocks, and people will be seeing each other at a physical trade show with all the safety and health precautions in place soon. Informa Markets in India seeks to provide turnkey hybrid engagements, combining the best of physical and virtual platforms. These will enable us to offer efficient, impressive, and state-of-the-art solutions for our stakeholder’s evolving requirements.