Exhibition Showcase Talks To Chandrika Behl, Managing Director, Exhibitions India Group


ES. Please tell us about yourself and your organisation.
Chandrika. Established in 1987, the Exhibitions India Group is a leading trade promotion organisation that acts as an interface between government, industry, media, academia, etc. The group creates opportunities for trade promotion, networking, encouraging investments, promoting joint ventures and technology transfers through the platform of international exhibitions and conferences. EIG has organised over 100 international trade shows since inception, including some of the largest and longest running exhibitions in the country.

ES. Please share with us about your professional journey in this industry.
Chandrika. What started as a short stint turned into a full time and all-consuming career in the exhibitions industry!

I have worked on various aspects of the business from founding and creating Krackerjack Karnival, which grew into India’s largest children and family event to leading our agency business Comnet Exhibitions into amongst the world’s largest private sales agencies. Of course, our domestic shows remain our number one priority. The main focus is to evolve and grow our business and to always provide significant value to all our stakeholders.

ES. Please share your outlook on the present scenario of pandemic?
Chandrika. With the encouraging news that we’ve been hearing in the last few weeks about the efficacy of vaccines, and how soon they may come to market, I’m hopeful that there is an end in sight in the not so distant future. Of course, we are all taking steps to move towards a ‘new normal,’ while ensuring that trade shows around the world and in India can resume in a safe and productive manner.

ES. How covid-19 has affected your business?
Chandrika. Like everyone in the industry, Covid-19 has brought our business to a grinding halt since March this year. That being said, it’s given everyone in the industry the time to focus on their core strengths, as well as develop new revenue streams. In our case, we have been working with all our stakeholders and exhibitors to ensure that we are able to reschedule our expos in as seamless a manner as possible, while also developing new revenue streams in the digital domain.

ES. What according to you are learnings from this pandemic?
Chandrika. The importance of being agile as an organisation and responding quickly to new challenges. While digital communication has been our collective lifeline this year, this time has also demonstrated the sheer importance of personal face-to-face interaction.

ES. How are you preparing to function in the new normal?
Chandrika. We’re looking forward to 2021 with cautious optimism. As an organisation, this crisis has given us an even stronger sense of direction, drive and meaning. We are proud of how everyone is in the company has rallied together through this crisis.

ES. According to you, what would be the trends of the industry in 2021?
Chandrika. Unfortunately our industry will take longer than most to recover. But I do feel confident that 2021 will allow us to work towards recovery. It’s heartening to know from all our exhibitors/stakeholders how much they still value physical exhibitions and miss the energy and interaction of events. Of course, digital will continue to play a part in all business strategies going forward.

ES. What is your take on virtual events?
Chandrika. I don’t think virtual events will ever be able to replace live, physical events, but they do bring their own value towards providing a significant platform to connect exhibitors and buyers and allow leads to be generated. Going forward, they will provide a good addition to a physical show by allowing a more comprehensive participation for both buyers and exhibitors.

ES. You have attended 87th UFI Global Congress virtually, please share your comments and feedback.
Chandrika. While I certainly missed the fun and camaraderie of the events in Bangkok and Johannesburg, it was good to see all the familiar faces and hear everyone’s thoughts on the challenges facing the industry.

ES. What are your upcoming plans?
Chandrika. We are grateful that the Government of India has now allowed B2B trade fairs to resume. The 28th Convergence India (CI) & 6th Smart Cities India (SCI) expos are scheduled for 24-26 March 2021 at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi. Convergence India has been at the forefront of India’s digital revolution since 1992, while the Smart Cities India expo is a reflection of India’s emerging modernization. The combination of both expos will deliver an event that focuses on the next stage of sustainable growth for India. Moreover, we believe that March 2021 would be the perfect time to demonstrate such a show of strength, showcasing India’s potential in 2021 and the years ahead. The combined expo of CI & SCI, in March 2021, will deliver India’s largest technology event on all aspects vital to nation building. India is preparing itself to demonstrate that ‘We are open for business,’ and we believe that the Convergence India & Smart Cities expos are the perfect platform with which to do so.

Mr. Prem Behl, Chairman, Exhibitions India Group, was honoured with Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding contribution to the exhibitions industry during the IEIA Open Seminar in 2017.. Mr. Behl has over five decades of experience working with Indian companies, multinationals, government and associations, and had received the Award for conceptualising and creating exhibitions and trade fairs that helped in nation building, and for being an inspiration to future generations. Mr. Kai Hattendorf, MD & CEO, UFI, Paris, presented the award to Mr. Behl.