Going Virtual: “The New Normal Or Interim Solution”, Balvinder Singh Sawhney answers in this Exclusive Q & A
India is still fighting with COVID 19 outbreak and as per Dr. David Nabarro of WHO the pandemic will reach its peak in the country by the end of July before it is contained. While, China has become the first country to successfully concluded ‘Hunan Auto Show 2020’ on 5th May with 62000 visitors footfalls, Korea following the suit; and the ‘MBC Construction Expo’ is concluding today (11/5/2020) at KINTEX, Korea
BSS : COVID 19, as you are aware is one of the biggest disaster mankind has ever faced in recent times, bringing disruption to the human life worldwide. With no vaccine or treatment currently in place, social distancing, containment and restrictions are the only way forward for the time being until the curve flattens and normalcy prevails. In the scenario, when no large gatherings and physical events taking place, going virtual is the new normal or interim solution. The idea is to transport the user into life like simulation of an actual brick and mortar space with all the elements which are physically there at any expo and providing a vantage platform for networking, building linkages and capitalising the business opportunities.
TFT : Do you think virtual trade shows and conferences will create a depressing situation for the business Events in India ?
BSS: As the world grapples with the unprecedented challenge of Covid-19, we at FICCI are committed to support and help the Indian industry navigate the crisis, plan for the future, and generate business including exports. Crisis shall spur the adoption of new technologies, business models and move towards further digitisation. This would rather add spring in the steps of the business community wherein they would be able to network with their peers, meet prospective buyers and generate business opportunities to support their units and keeping jobs intact. Eventually, normalcy shall prevail and we can contemplate virtual being an added element in the armoury until travel restrictions are imposed. Also, it counters the cost challenges, travel embargos and fear psychosis for the community to travel freely. We hope that by next year we would be back with the physical form of events, nothing can be compare to the magnitude, aura and grandeur of F2F/ physical events.
TFT : India , at this trying time is looking at FICCI to lead the way for the exhibition sector too ? You have been actively involved in many industry initiative since lockdown began, how do you see the covid exit and it’s short term & long term impact on Exhibition Industry ?
BSS : We at FICCI are committed to support the Indian business houses and manufacturers from all the segments of Indian industry including the exhibitions. The outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus COVID-19 is impacting the global exhibitions and events industry, as events of all kinds are being postponed or cancelled. India will not be unimpacted, these are unchartered terrains and will definitely have short term impact on events and revenues due to cancellations, postponement of events and skimmed budgets for our patrons. We do foresee a short term impact, al least for this financial year and we are bullish once the normalcy prevails and embargos are lifted. Whilst we need remain optimistic that we will see a turnaround in the coming months, we know that businesses are under severe pressure and that survival is the immediate priority. There needs to be hope, and a vision to rebuild. We cannot lose sight of the future: we need a plan with substance on how we collectively rebound and industry bounces back. 3 R’s – REIMAGINE, REINVENT and REBOOT is need of the hour. We will definitely need to take the counter measures and formulate a rebound strategy. The following could be a definite way forward until its business as usual:-