In conversation with Satyendra Mehra, Group Director & Member of the Management Board, NürnbergMesse India Pvt. Ltd.

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“India is one of the fastest growing exhibition markets within the NürnbergMesse group. Our growth has been consistent and our offerings are versatile. There are many new areas where we see a huge potential and our current portfolio also offers tremendous scope for growth. In an exhibition, customer service, experience, timely delivery and completion of tasks are of utmost importance and critical. It’s a value chain. Each and every step, process and procedure needs to be adhered.”

ES. What were the past experiences, achievements, or lessons that shaped your journey as a successful leader in this industry?

Satyendra Mehra. My journey in the exhibition industry has been quite adventurous, exciting and full of great learnings. Never imagined that I would end up in this industry, coming from an airline and customer service-oriented industry, which is where I started my career. I am a firm believer that one should not miss any opportunity to learn alongside colleagues and fellow professionals, which in itself is an enriching experience. Equally important is to learn from failures and take the necessary corrective measures to move ahead. Over the years’ challenges, experiences and opportunities have enabled me to transform from a hard-core operations specialist to an industry specialist now holding a key management position and portfolio. There have been mentors, colleagues, friends, and well-wishers on this journey who have played a huge role in my growth, for which I am extremely grateful.

ES. In this period of change, Artificial intelligence has started to become an integral part of our industry. Do you think with these new tools comes a greater opportunity to reach and engage with new audiences that are larger than ever before?

Satyendra Mehra. Absolutely.

I believe that, Artificial intelligence (AI) has been an integral part of our business and industry for a long time. We have been using it in one form or another, depending on the objectives. The key to our business and also to effective adoption and application of AI is data. The definition of AI has varied over the last decade to being just number crunching to an inference tool to now a human interface and life influencing force. AI is changing the way the world works. AI is being used across several sectors like healthcare, manufacturing, transportation and even retail, and the Exhibition sector is no different. AI can personalise recommendations for event attendees and exhibitors on a large scale, furthermore AI can be a powerful tool in for marketing, by optimising ads and campaigns automatically to ensure that the most impactful messages are being sent.

I would say AI acts as an influencer and manoeuvres one’s decision making process to the desired and expected outcome. With technology constantly evolving at a staggering pace, incorporating advanced technologies in the events and exhibition industry has taken the customer experience to a significant level. Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality are also holding great potential in engaging the customers at an immersive level. We need use these digital tools to our advantage and to complement them with our existing offerings to provide an enhanced experience and outcome for our clients and their customers. Such tools help and support us in focussed marketing campaigns and engagement, and very importantly develop and explore untapped territories and customers.

ES. Tech is now an enabler for the event industry. Can you share with us your thoughts on how and what to embrace in this domain?

Satyendra Mehra. One has to embrace change and accept digital transformation, for good. There is this saying “One size doesn’t fit all”. Hence the solutions will depend on your expectations and requirements. It’s situational and need based. What works for one may not necessarily work for another. Apart from standardised digital solutions which most us are using at the moment, we need to have customised solutions too. This also depends on level of investment, along with in-house capability and expertise in handling and managing them.

ES. With 17 shows spread across different Industry verticals., today the offerings of NürnbergMesse India are varied and versatile. What are your upcoming plans for the Indian market?

Satyendra Mehra. India is one of the fastest growing exhibition markets within the NürnbergMesse group and like you rightly said, our growth has been consistent and our offerings versatile. Our upcoming plans are centred around sustainable growth and progress. There are many new areas where we see a huge potential and our current portfolio also offers tremendous scope for growth.

ES. NMI organised its 1st physical show post covid – BIOFACH INDIA just recently. Please share with us the experience and feedback received from the participants.

Satyendra Mehra. “Re-Experience Live” was our mantra. Our focus and emphasis to deliver our goals of “We Care” and “Partnership beyond Business” yielded great results. It was encouraging to witness the positive vibes, excitement and enthusiasm on the show floor. Our “Hygiene Concept” ensured that participants felt secure and safe at the event, while at the same time enjoying the benefits of face to face networking.

ES. What is your advice for budding or emerging leaders?

Satyendra Mehra. Embrace change and Innovate.

  • Always keep pushing to explore and exploit the best available within ourselves
  • Challenge and keep questioning till you are satisfied with the outcome
  • Patience: Inventions and innovations were discovered after number of failures and repeated attempts
  • Resilience: Whenever there is major problem, take a step back. Focus on finding and exploring workable solutions and options
  • Invest in Training and Skill Development
  • Encourage team effort and bonding by having human centric approach
  • Adopt a collaborative style of working, giving due emphasis to diversity and inclusion

ES. What are the key challenges surrounding our industry? In your opinion, what does the future hold for the Indian exhibition industry?

Satyendra Mehra. In the current situation, I believe following points need to be addressed which will help us to overcome challenges faced by all of us:

  • Instilling confidence and promoting the nostalgic value of Trade Fairs. Importance of face-to-face networking
  • Realigning of Strategy
  • Redesigning of Marketing Communication
  • Focus on Content
  • Addressing the changing needs of the customers
  • Bundling and delivery of existing conventional offerings along with latest digital innovations
  • Providing continuous and yearlong engagement
  • Reassurance on safe, secure and hygiene parameters
  • Providing ROI to the customers
  • Very importantly to invest in staff and training

The future of the exhibition industry in India is promising along with a steady growth. India is an important market and one of prime exhibition destinations globally. In the coming days, we will be witnessing more strategic alliances, collaborations, partnerships, investments, new launches, geo-cloning of existing brands and more International organisers establishing their base here.

ES. As you oversee event operations too, what aspects do you feel are the most critical while organizing a show and also the ones that present most unique challenges?

Satyendra Mehra. In an exhibition, customer service, experience, timely delivery and completion of tasks are of utmost importance and critical. It’s a value chain. Each and every step, process and procedure needs to be adhered. Also, very important is the resource and cost management. Some of the important and critical parameters that need to be considered are Strategy, Planning, Detailing, Risk Assessment, Transparent and effective communication, and Attitude to ensure health and safety coupled with quality service delivery.

In spite of planning and detailing so well, most of us have encountered and faced challenges which we never anticipated and hence it is always recommended to have alternate plan, i.e. contingency/back-up plan to address such challenges. From my experience the most unprecedented challenges faced are due to lack of training and motivation, unwillingness to move out of your comfort zone, miscommunication, poor time management, and especially lack of trust. Patience and calmness are two other important factors which always come in handy while managing events, especially those which are mounted on a large scale.

ES. The planning for an event starts a year ahead and goes on post the conclusion of the show. How important is the element of operations for the show team? How do you, especially, achieve such excellence in operations?

Satyendra Mehra. I would say the show team and operations team are two sides of the same coin. They cannot survive without each other. Show team sells a dream and operations team turns that dream into reality. In our organisation each team involved in delivering a successful show work and walk hand-in-hand. Team work and trusting each other is a critical aspect in this case. The teams discuss, deliberate, agree to disagree for the betterment of the event. Most importantly both the teams are encouraged to look at our services and offerings from the perspective of the ones who would be finally using it. This allows us to evaluate our processes more closely and ideate towards finding solutions which would benefit all Stakeholders; to integrate a practice of constant feedback from the users and evolve our services during the different stages of project management. Here we would like to express our gratitude and extend our thanks to our service partners. They are our extended family that provide flawless and seamless customer service experience.

ES. As you deal with the service providers on a regular basis, how do you feel about the evolving role of venues and suppliers in the new normal and evolving dynamics of relationship between organisers and service partners?

Satyendra Mehra. We at NürnbergMesse have a long-standing association, relationship and understanding with our service partners including venues, and we believe it has only evolved and enhanced over a period of time, and will continue to do so. They have been one of the key drivers of the success of our shows and with that, the organisation as a whole. They are our extended arm for services we provide to our exhibitors and visitors.

During this time of ‘New Normal’, the emphasis and focus is to create an enhanced secure and safe environment. The future is “Sustainability” and “Digitisation”. Skill development and training is equally important. We expect these to integrate across various levels and aspects of the industry for better management and an even bUnderstandably, we face multiple challenges together but the best part is that we discuss, deliberate and work out solutions which are feasible and benefit the show, which includes timeline schedule and planning, resource allocation, timely and quality service delivery, customer friendly communication, attending and fulfilling additional requirements/requests from exhibitors and visitors, last minute service execution and contingency support.

Most important aspect what we stress on is educating, training and briefing our service partners before each event with regards to managing expectations, handling and addressing challenges onsite and very crucial “SERVICE with a SMILE!”

Any kind of challenge and issue can be addressed. This is possible and achievable with having a proper plan in place, having deliberations and discussions, clear and transparent communication and most importantly respect, trust and confidence in each other. At the end of the day SUCCESS is all about TEAM WORK! During this time of ‘New Normal’, the emphasis and focus is to create an enhanced secure and safe environment. The future is “Sustainability” and “Digitisation”. Skill development and training is equally important. We expect these to integrate across various levels and aspects of the industry for better management and an even better end result.etter end result.