Interview with Manish Gandhi, COO & Executive Director – ABEC Exhibitions & Conferences

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Normally building up the booths takes a lot of energy, time and money. So, I think situation demands that we use prefabricated methods to avoid the aforesaid situation. We have also slashed our prices by fifty percent, what we used to sell for Rs. 18000 sqms, now we’re offering our clients in just Rs. 10,000.

ES. What is going to be special in this edition of ACETECH, how different is it going to befrom the ones which we have seen earlier?
Manish Gandhi. This is a signature event, which is smaller in size but bigger in splendour. Spread in 6 000 square meters, we have made smaller booths, i.e. 50 sqm, 100 sqm and 30 sqm. The aesthetic appreciation of the structure is that they’re all prefabricated, so the amount of setup time is very less. Normally building up the booths takes a lot of energy, time and money. So, I think situation demands that we use prefabricated methods to avoid the aforesaid situation. We have also slashed our prices by fifty percent, what we used to sell for Rs. 18000 sqms, now we’re offering our clients in just Rs. 10,000.Prefabricated booth also helps the Exhibitor to save money, as we know the entire set up is in ready to use form, one can step in even a day before the event. In my opinion, exhibitors who used to spend 50 lakhs can now cut down his cost to a great extent. Pre-fabricated booths which we have never done so, the standard size, the standard height, free-flowing, contactless, sanitized and with SOPS norms which the government has issued.It is not going to look as grand as what acetech used to be, we are starting from zero, the entire industry is starting from zero so, I think it’s a good starting point wherein, we get the customers or visitors confidence back.

ES. You call it a signature edition, does it signify special meaning in terms of exhibition in 2021?
Manish. It’s a huge meaning, I feel like, I’m restarting my career again. People who have been in exhibitions, doing 70 shows a year, and with the outbreak of pandemic covid-19, everything comes to standstill, it is definitely a signature show, which is like the restart of the entire exhibition industry. It makes us feel proud that we are the first ones to actually take this initiative. I and Sumit Ji together have put a lot efforts in getting the staffs back to the work, making them comfortable, talking to them, getting them onto the zoom call with the clients were some hectic work schedules. So, technology has played a crucial role in connecting us together and making things possible. I had a conversation with a few people from the team of other organisers, they have some shows scheduled to take place in March. After a discussion, what I found that everybody needs that confidence. I think acetech will be the torchbearer for a fresh start.

 

ES. Do you have some hybrid element involved in this physical show?
Manish. That is absolutely necessary, we have learnt from our fitness show that the power of social media, youtube live streaming always add value to the customer experience. Virtual exhibition, virtual meetings and other e-meet formats plays a crucial role in reaching out to target audience but virtual cannot replace the physical exhibition. However, real exhibitions must utilize the power of virtual so that more and more and more people can be reached. This exhibition is slightly smaller but definitely a hybrid model will be a part and parcel of the show.

ES. This is going to mark the first exhibition in Maharashtra since the outbreak of pandemic, Covid-19, what steps are youtaking as an organizer to ensure the smooth and safe experiencefor attendees?
Manish. First and foremost, we should ensure that the SOP which have been issued by the ministry, are being followed. Sanitization of the entire venue, larger aisle spaces, spacing of the booths, maintaining social distancing, doing temperature checks, and asking the participants and vendors for their Covid test done 72 hours prior to the event are some measures that would be put into practice. People don’t need to be scared, all you need is to be careful, wear your mask and everything is fine. There are no registration counters, one can access the registration process through book my show. You can buy trade show pass for Rs. 200- 300. Common areas like the cafes would be under strict protocol. I think registration and contact list would be the key to ascertain the number of visitors as per the area. Visitors will be monitored, I would be more than happy if that happens safe and sound. Acetech is just a small initiative, we will definitely come up with a bigger initiative soon.

ES. What has been the general feedback from your clients, how supportive have they been?
Manish. Surprisingly, very supportive, people want to move on, people want to forget, markets are positive, I think things are moving in the very right direction. We are very thankful to the industry, the support that we are getting from various segments. People are travelling from far flung areas to attend the show. Clients from Delhi are now focussing Mumbai market also, real estate business have started to function, this is really helping architects, interior designers and others in this business. These activities shows a positive indicator in the real estate sector. Now people are saying, ‘we need something to market, let’s start off.’

ES. How supportive has been the Maharashtra government for this initiative?
Manish. Very supportive, I met CM Uddhav Ji and Aditya Ji who had also inaugurated one of our health and fitness shows. He has confirmed his presence to inaugurate the show.

ES. Bombay Exhibition Centre has been Covid-19 Centre, what would you like to say about Venue?
Manish. The best thing happened is that the major Covid centres are now transforming into a major vaccination point. It reflects the positivity among people. Anybody who wants to geta vaccine shot can visit Nesco. I personally visited the venues, they are segregated with barricades and its completely isolated. The entry is from gate 3 which is almost a kilometer away. I think, it’s absolutely safe. The venue has been very careful, supportive. I believe, the myth of people will break, they will regain confidence.

ES. What are the numbers expected as an exhibitors and visitors in acetech?
Manish. We have around 80 confirmed participants, in terms of visitors over a period of three days with the SOPS, 15 to 20 000 footfall would be our expectation. The architect community to visit around 10000-15000 in three days. We’ll not be allowing, any one below 18 and for elderly above 60.

ES. What would you like to share as a message to the industry and the fraternity at large?
Manish. I think, I’m touched the way you along with the other members, have kept the industry together in this difficult time. I’m really impressed the way industry people had undertaken the advocacy campaign, there’s a good amount of bonding, a good amount of knowledge sharing. Ultimately, we all need to stand together and represent our country.