ES. To begin with, for the benefit of our readers, please tell us about yourself as well as your organization in brief?
Phil. My name is Phill Chung. I am the CEO and MD of the operating company of India International Convention & Expo Centre (IICC), New Delhi, which is Kinexin. We made this company as the Special Purpose Company and a Private Limited company in July this year.
As an individual, I was working for a U.S. software company initially and then my second career began in creating the largest venue and I have met lots of global joint ventures, doing partnership with them and I did M&A for businesses, organized many shows and did many venue rental services. Also, I have associated with one of the nation’s largest exhibition catering businesses. So, this was my journey in a nutshell and as a Business Development Director over the last 16 years in Korea’s largest venue, I got involved with multiple associations as an Executive Director and I worked as a occasional Speaker at universities and fought for students. Broadly, I dedicated almost my entire career to the MICE industry, trying to promote Korea as the hub destination of Asia MICE to the world. I got many world record events of all types, literally world records when it comes to the size of the people.
ES: How do you perceive the role of Indian Association Congress (IAC) as a platform for connecting associations in India?
Phil: IAC is in seventh edition in a row I recognize pretty much value of this gathering. I see this India Association Congress as a priceless gathering for all the association executives from many world events. A top man from Korea is attending this conference and conveying wonderful insights about the scenery and I also as a person representing one of India’s top venues side and also keenly interested in joining with associations as association are closely related with MICE industry because whatever exhibitions you produce, association members are key members and biggest beneficiary at the same time of the exhibition. They (association members) have to join and create synergy and they are the organizers in 90% percent exhibitions and 99% of associations’ are stakeholders in this sector. So once they gather, they can make huge decisions, they can read each other’s trend and they can come up with much better insight for the future.
The IICC (India International Convention & Expo Centre) is a smart city project being driven by Government of India. With a total area of 300,000 sqmt, IICC is India’s largest convention and exhibition complex.
ES: By when can we see the IICC Dwarka, New Delhi getting operational?
Phil: IICC Dwarka’s construction has been really smooth and we started the construction sanctioned by the Indian government last year almost around May. Actually it was originally planned to start the entire operation in full swing from last January, but perhaps there were some land tenants who had not left as their promise. That’s what I heard from the government that they had some problem with those existing tenants and then after all the agreements got done and they started construction from May. So we got little delayed during the inception of the construction. The construction has been really smooth and professional and we are working as their business consultant and as ‘technical operability consultant’ which means that we have to maximize the level of output ability of each part of the venue – when it comes to space lobby and indoor space and the functions of each structure etc. So we are giving lots of technical and helpful inputs to them, which have reflected pretty much, and in an impressive manner. I was keenly impressed by the enthusiastic support coming from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, NITI Aayog and even the Prime Minister’s Office and embassies etc.
So I hope the construction will be really smooth. And even after that initial sluggish period I expect that opening will be around the 1st of September for the exhibition halls, followed by November 1st for the entire convention hall comprising of seven storeys and 15 meeting rooms of various sizes. The construction period will be adjusted and the official commercial operation date is to be issued formally by the government and it will be updated on our website www.iiccnewdelhi.com And regarding the operational means, we should be impeccably prepared which means that certain and more than enough period of test training and defect-repair should be considered. So next year it’s more like a test running, reviewing of those technical details and such.
ES. What impact the IICC Dwarka going to create on the exhibition sector in India?
Phil. That’s huge because until this moment India hasn’t enjoyed its benefit of staging pretty much a number of international conventions. This is because they don’t have any viable convention centre like IICC and a typical format of the conventions where you have things like our auditorium for six thousand people and a grand ballroom for twenty four hundred people etc. As you know, even in NCR, there is an IEML convention centre but they have turned some portion of their expo hall into a kind of interim conference hall and didn’t have a proper convention setup. And so far as I have experienced, most of the venues don’t have the proper set of AV screens and the high resolution beam projectors, which is a very important equipment. So this means that up until this moment there hasn’t been any proper world class convention setup. Now we are setting it up at IICC, that is right next to IGI airport of New Delhi and hotels hub called Aero city. This will create a great synergy. We’ll increase general pool of MICE in India and greater number of conventions, trade shows and consumer shows can be expected with the coming up of IICC. The change has already begun and you will get a lot more shows in and out of India. The citizens of India will be the biggest beneficiary of this.
ES. What were some of the key challenges in building such a large convention centre in India?
Phil. For such a large venue, the construction is always tough, even in Korea where we are more like construction nation and have many the top global construction companies. So the various steps of the construction from procuring materials to finishing the work on time especially in India’s simmering weather is challenging. But miraculously by this moment, everything has been really smooth and thanks to all those 6000 construction crews who are working on a daily basis, trying to meet our deadline, which is phenomenal.
ES. How do you see the role of the government of India in the entire ambit?
Phil. In Asia, India is rapidly chasing after Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea and China. When it comes to economy, according to the World Bank that by the year of 2022, India will rank world’s number three. India has the widest English speaking population. So that’s an amazing thing. And even from the job perspective, I hope that the government will ease the regulations for crowd-funding. So that you guys can crowd-fund to get the budget for organizing new shows as a startup and then, you can probably collaborate with the global organizer.
Also, the government can ease the regulation of doing business. So less and lesser permits should be required. And even the visa process is quite tough. Even from Korea. I too have to fill out all the papers. And definitely what may be one of the most important thing is the Government Assistance Program which means to support international conventions coming into India. There can be some budget to support each travelling international visitor and buyer by giving them some financial incentives and to support their meals airfare and accommodation etc. And support in terms of even tourism, i.e to get your major attractions well exposed to the outsiders so that they can get a lot more closer to India. So those kind of policies are needed and they have to boom it up by getting all the craziest ideas from youngsters.
ES. Any message which you want to share with us.
Phil. IICC wishes to become such wonderful platform for trade and business also helping in job creation, in conformity with two governments’ ambitions, in harmony with Indian people and the rest of global community.