The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has heavily impacted the exhibition industry in India. It has suffered an estimated loss of Rs 3,570 crore due to the lockdown imposed as per the IEIA President S Balasubramanian. All the tradeshows and exhibitions have been canceled or postponed with the uncertainty of any trade fair happening in the latter half of 2020. But, the events and exhibitions industry is known to be resilient and during these crises, agility will be the single biggest reason why some organizations will make it through! So, here are 5 ways in which the exhibition industry can cope up with the economic crisis after the lockdown.
The exhibition industry is known to support and help grow various small scale industries that exhibit at the trade fairs. These play a major role in enabling trade for these businesses and help them reach out to a larger audience. With social distancing norms in place, the organizers can move to the virtual world to sell these products. The organizers can come up with a model similar to e-commerce to sell their products or tie-up with the existing service providers.
The Indian Exhibitions Industry Association (IEIA), which is the apex body of the exhibiting and trade show industry has urged the government to create an “Exhibitions in India” economic stimulus support package. A 10% incentive should be given to Indian trade fair management companies to organize shows in India and help recover the heavy losses incurred during this pandemic. GST rates should be reduced for all trade show services from the existing 18% to 12% with immediate effect. GST and Income Tax should be deferred for 6 to 9 months and the venue rentals for government-owned venues should be subsidized. Assistance from the government will go a long way in helping the industry recover from the losses.
3. Digital Marketing
The lockdown has caused the masses to stay indoors. This has caused a huge spike in the usage of digital platforms. The organizers must make sure to keep their customers engaged through blogs, videos or through social media where they can share updates about their strategies to tackle the crisis or ask them to suggest something. The monetary loss incurred is definitely irreversible but the loss of engagement of customers would be irreplaceable. If a strategy is employed to sell certain products online or trade fairs are allowed with certain restrictions on mass gathering, digital marketing will play a crucial role considering the surge in the average amount of time spent on online platforms.
4. Health and Safety
The pandemic of the COVID-19 virus has dismantled the healthcare infrastructure of many countries across the globe. If trade shows are allowed post-lockdown, it is paramount to take the necessary precautions to prevent any community spreading of the virus. Ticketing, payment of money, product booking and other such tasks that are done manually should be done virtually to avoid human contact. Hand sanitizers should be readily available. Only a certain amount of people should be allowed to enter the trade fair to avoid mass gathering. There are many more factors that will be involved in the health & safety checklist but the exhibition industry has to be instrumental in demonstrating that with the help of technology and strategic planning we can have human interaction at the same time maintain all the safety norms.
5. Virtual Exhibition
Exhibitions fundamentally are events at which businesses promote their products and services. If the visitors like the products they can buy it. With social distancing and restrictions on mass gathering, virtual exhibitions can be organized. The best way to organise a virtual exhibition in the most cost effective way would be through social media.
Organizers can have a series of different segments of products with their photos, video description of its working and all the required details on their social media handles. Visitors can select the products that they like and book those products. This will encourage the online engagement of customers, minimizing human contact. The organisers can then arrange for home delivery of the products. A virtual exhibition may not be that effective but during times like these, we have to make the most of what we can!
- Credits – Image created by Starline on Freepik.
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- Also read: 5 Reasons Why You MUST EXHIBIT At The India International Mega Trade Fair-Kolkata Despite COVID-19.
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