In Conversaon With Sunil More, Director, Fairact Exhibions & Events LLP & President, IESA

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ES. How our industry has been affected? What is the esmated loss
to exhibion services fraternity / IESA members?
Sunil More. Before we take a look at what is happening to the Indian exhibion services industry, let us take a broad outlook of what has happened in the Event Industry around the world since January 2020, i.e.; aer the outbreak of COVID 19. The Tokyo Olympics are postponed so are three premium tennis tournaments, football championships and the Indian Premier League. On the exhibions front, Mother of all fairs, Hannover Fair is postponed as also Dubai World Expo, Consumer Electronics Show, Shanghai, Mobile World Congress, Barcelona and CONEXPOCON/AGG – the Construcon trade Show, Las Vegas. The Geneva Internaonal Motor Show which was to open in March 2020, was cancelled just 3 days before opening of the Show Looking at India, I understand from various reports that close to100 exhibions have either been cancelled or postponed by this me resulng into an esmated loss of about Rs. 4,000 Crores.Given that the expenditure towards exhibion services constutes(which includes all services like, construcon, logiscs, security,housekeeping etc. but excluding Venue rentals) about 30 to 35 %of the total expenditure of an exhibion, the Indian exhibion services industry has lost between Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 1,200 Crores.

ES. How will this pandemic change the dynamics of our industry?
What will be the future of our industry?
Sunil More. The dynamics of the industry has totally shaered during the past couple of months. The Indian exhibion services industry in fragmented and has cyclical nature with a large manpower temporarily engaged during the exhibions. This manpower is mostly migrant workers coming to larges cies in expectaon of employment. Though the Governments and the social organizaons are doing their best to help, this secon of the
people is the worst hit in this pandemic as you can see from their anxiety to reach their homeland traveling in inhumane condions.The exhibion services industry on the other hand is run mostly by small and medium size enterprises, who are facing financial difficules on various fronts, unused assets, rents, electricity charges, interest payments etc. They have also lost their labour force, which has either already reached or is in a process of reaching their homelands. To mobilize them back once the exhibion start happening will be a major challenge for them.Given the scenario as explained above, we feel there will be a
paradigm shi in the way we work at the exhibion sites. The future of the industry is very pessimisc on the short term of say, 9 to 12 months on this year with a possibility of opening up of some small exhibions in the third quarter of financial year 2020-21 and
normalcy returning only from or aer 2 quarter of financial year

ES. As exhibions will gradually open, what do you foresee will be the future SOPs for service providers?
Sunil More. All Associaons and also other organizaons are working on the SOPs,which will be applicable to all including venue owners, organizers as well as serviceproviders. The internaonal apex body, UFI has already issued an advisory on this subject. We will also have to wait for the Government direcves in s regard to arrive at any process. I believe, the SOPs will be concerning social distancing, hygiene, safety etc. Apart from these standard procedures,we will also have to look at changing our pracces of stand construcon, improving hygiene by mechanized processes and stricter security measures.

ES. As an industry associaon, how have you served your members during these
disturbing mes? What have been the key iniaves?
Sunil More. Aer the Government announced the 1 lockdown, IESA iniated dialogues with its members exchanging informaon, understanding status and examining possible remedial measures.However, severity of the pandemic was clearly understood during the first fortnight of the lockdown. IESA then started engaging its membership through knowledge sharing webinars on various topics of interest to its membership and they will be connuing ll the situaon is improved.

ES. IESA organized several webinars ranging wide array of topics. Can you share how well were they received from the industry?
Sunil More. The webinar topics include sales and markeng, taxaon, safety, new product technologies and processes etc.The webinars were well received by the members and the non-members alike with most of the webinars having an aendance of 200 to 250 parcipants.

ES. IESA Expo Shop that was due to be held in BIEC this year got postponed. Will we see the event happening this year?
Sunil More. Though no formal decision has been taken in this regard, there is a remote
possibility of IESA Expo Shop 2020 happening as everything is uncertain at the moment. We will take an appropriate decision once there is clarity on the situaon.

ES. What according to you can our industry learn from this crisis? Is there any silver lining in this?
Sunil More. I must say that there is always a silver lining to any crisis. And it depends to
a great extent on how you look at the crisis.There are two ways of looking at the crisis.
Wait ll somebody normalizes the situaon for you or to start working oneself how to
address the crisis and prepare and get ready for the opportunies emerging aer the crisis. As you may have noced during the present pandemic, many are learning new skills like sales and markeng, finance,new technologies etc. whereas many have started markeng or making products like sanizing equipment, cubicles tec. required in the present situaon. The new learnings from the present crisis depend on the type of industry sector you are in. Broadly for all of our members, we need to be a leaner and meaner organizaon, user of modern technologies, professional in managing our cash-flow etc. In case of specific industries like logiscs, use of mechanized equipment,for stand contracng, use of modular
structures, for housekeeping, use of automac cleaning machines etc. etc.

ES. What is your message to the industry?
Sunil More. I believe that the present crisis will be over though it may take 6 to 18 months as opinioned by many. However,the business may start by 3 quarter of the present inancial year. So my message to the industry to learn new things during this period, keep connect with your stakeholders – clients, business partners,vendors and workers, explore possibilies of business and most importantly, stay calm and do not panic.

ES. What kind of support has IESA appealed for from the government? If you yet
appealed, what measures would you like the government should take for your
industry?
Sunil More. We have approached the Government with 3 basis requests:

  • To issue clear guidelines on the processes and procedures to be followed aer the lockdown is lied and exhibions business starts.
  • Offer so loans to small and medium enterprises on very low rate of interest to manage their cash-flow and
  • Providing smulus to the industry by re starng Government spending on the
    events

ES. Lot of small companies are facing difficules in paying salaries to their staff.
What are your comments on this?
Sunil More. This is a major problem. Usually the small companies are cash starved and
with no business in hand, it is very difficult for them to pay salaries to their staff. The
way forward in this situaon as I see is either to cut or hold back part of the salaries, no increments or bonuses ll the situaon improves, improve producvity,get rid of unproducve assets, staff etc. I see no other measures in ding over the present situaon.

ES. How have you ulized this me to engage with your clients?
Sunil More. Yes at IESA, we are communicang with our clients at different levels, through emails, messages and direct communicaon also.

ES. As FairAct is into exhibion management, what are your clients (organisers) saying about the situaon? Do you think exhibions will shrink?
Sunil More. Our interacon with clients is connuing but unfortunately nobody is certain of the future at this point of me as the pandemic spread is connuing without any indicaons of slow down or flaening of the curve. Some of the very large exhibions planned during the last quarter of this financial have already been postponed. The organizers of medium size
exhibions planned in the same quarter are sll holding on to the decisions hoping that
the situaon will improve in next couple of months and business starts normalizing.The exhibions are likely to shrink as exhibitors, who are also with no business at present, will spend less. Also there will be a tendency to select fewer good exhibions for parcipaon thereby reducing markeng budgets.

ES. When do you feel exhibions will reopen?
Sunil More. Absolutely no guesses at this stage. However, I have a feeling that some
smaller exhibions may be held in the last quarter of this financial year. There is a chance that er-2 and er-3 cies may see some exhibions happening.