Benefits from participation in exhibitions are well worth the risks

№ 4, 2021
Heading: EXHIBITIONS
Author:

Job title: директор выставочного унитарного предприятия «Белинтерэкспо» БелТПП

THE PANDEMIC INTRODUCED ITS ADJUSTMENTS TO THE EXHIBITION INDUSTRY ALL OVER THE WORLD. WHAT DO THE PRESENT-DAY EXHIBITIONS LOOK LIKE AND WHAT IS THE CURRENT FORMAT OF THE EXHIBITIONS ABROAD? IS IT SAFE TO PARTICIPATE? HOW EFFICIENT ARE MAJOR INTERNATIONAL PROJECTS FOR BELARUSIAN EXPORTERS? EVGENIY VVEDENSKIY, DIRECTOR OF THE EXHIBITION UNITARY ENTERPRISE "BELINTEREXPO" OF THE BELССI, ANSWERS THESE AND OTHER QUESTIONS.

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What are the global trends in the exhibition industry in 2021?

What is happening in the exhibition industry now is that number of experts (myself included) forecasted at the outset of the pandemic: exhibitions are getting increasingly more specialized. Large-scale events are getting smaller (if held at all), while professional events are acquiring greater value. Normally, such events, along with participation in an exhibition, involve a highly topical business agenda and visits to production sites. On the other hand, exhibitions are now making active use of online tools.

How does "Belinterexpo" meet these changes?

Our portfolio includes holding entirely online exhibitions. These are exhibitions without any physical pavilions. However, in 2021 "Belinterexpo" focused on the organization of hybrid events that simultaneously utilize an off­line booth, a virtual platform with exhibits information, as well as company contact details. This format is quite convenient: visitors may not get to the exhibition for some reason but at the same time they can take a full-scale look at the product of interest and contact the company representatives. Besides, a virtual platform allows seeing the exhibits in advance and arranging an appointment at a particular time, without queuing in the pavilion. In 2021, we have already held and are still planning to hold several big hybrid-­format projects.

Some of the companies participated remotely in foreign exhibitions organized by "Belinterexpo". Could you please give more details on this opportunity?

Remote participation means continuous efforts of the "Belinterexpo" employees who go to the exhibition, stay under quarantine (if required) and ensure communication between visitors and an exhibiting company from ­Belarus. The companies' representatives themselves stay at home. In case of interest, our specialists arrange direct video negotiations at a mutually convenient time. This format is particularly relevant for the countries that are hard to get into. Azerbaijan, for example. An entry permit is granted by the government operation headquarters and only for the ones vaccinated. Moreover, each application is reviewed on a case-by-case basis. I would like to emphasize that a remote participation format was successfully implemented at the Rebuild Syria Exhibition held early in October in Damascus. The employees of Belagro Bel company held negotiations with business partners from Syria without attending the exhibition themselves.

Yet, many international exhibitions are still held in a traditional format. Is it safe to visit them?

Going to an exhibition is no more dangerous than traveling by public transport or meeting friends. Big events observe both common safeguard measures (face masks, hand sanitizing) and special exhibition measures – limitation of the number of participants, distribution of crowd flows, prohibited exchange of business cards and quite often – handshakes. Safety is also ensured by mandatory vaccination certificates and an option of an express PCR test at the entrance. Leastwise, these measures were taken during the latest major events we took part in – in ­Serbia and Russia.

What makes a traditional participation format still popular?

Benefits from participation are well worth the risks: now the quality of visitors is much higher – they are the audience focused on a proven result. Besides, as we have contacted businesses, we can say that people need real-life communication, which is hard to get online.

How efficient were the 2021 exhibitions for the Belarusian companies? What recent exhibitions can you highlight in terms of their scale and value for Belarus?

Contracts and agreements were concluded almost at every exhibition we took part in, already while the exhibitions were on. Traditional high efficiency was shown by the food exhibition Gulfood in Dubai, just like other exhibitions in the region. A great number of contracts were concluded at the exhibitions in ­Tajikistan and ­Uzbekistan. The agricultural exhibition in Serbia (Novi Sad) has just ended, where the company "Molochny Mir" signed a supply contract worth 200 thousand USD. Kalinkovichi Dairy Plant made a contract for USD 55 thousand during the Armenia Expo. And at the Rebuild Syria in Damascus, agreements were reached on multiple fronts.

As far as the second question is concerned, I would mention a specialized construction exhibition Baku Build in Azerbaijan. I can also point out large-scale events held in November in Dubai. They are dedicated to food products, consumer goods, and petroleum chemistry. The region is also home to EXPO 2020, which makes it the center of attraction for the entire globe.

We organized two national expositions of the Republic of Belarus in November. This refers to the FoodExpo Qazaqstan. Just there, in Almaty, a large-scale agro forum was held involving the Ministry of Agriculture and Food of our country. The second event is the national exposition at the China International Import Expo in Shanghai. There, we keenly suggested remote participation to the Belarusian companies due to mandatory self-­isolation upon arrival in China. Partici­pants of this event included companies of Belgospishcheprom Concern, Beltamozhservice, EKZON, and scientific organizations under the aegis of the State Committee on Science and Technology.

The Cairo ICT in Egypt, some industrial and food exhibitions in Ukraine, food trade shows in Israel, Russia and ­Uzbekistan also proved to be rewarding for Belarus.

What exhibitions of December 2021 and early 2022 the Belarusian ­exporters should pay attention to?

At the end of November, we are planning to organize a Belarusian pavilion at the INNOPROM exhibition as part of the Big Industrial Week in Indonesia. We participated in this exhibition in ­Yekaterinburg, and then in Tashkent. In 2021, the exhibition will be hosted by Jakarta.

Several major events are scheduled for December. These are food exhibitions in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Karachi, as well as industrial exhibitions in Dubai and Cairo.

Preparation for the 2022 exhibitions is in a full swing. In particular, Sudan will host the Khartoum International Fair in January, and we have been participants of this event earlier. The IMM Cologne, one of the world's biggest exhibitions of furniture and design, will take place in Cologne. Here we also have a proven record of participation. This time, "Belinterexpo" is arranging an exposition together with the Bellesbumprom Concern. February 2022 will see the food exhibition Gulfood in Dubai – the largest of its kind. We have been taking part in this event for seven years in a row.

Our 2022 calendar includes more than 80 events in dozens of countries. We invite businesses to join the Made in Belarus expositions and take the opportunity to present their products, participate in business meetings, visit production sites and, definitely, conclude lucrative contracts.