Michael Duck – EVP of Informa Markets, Asia, in this exclusive with M Q Syed throw lights on Virtual & Hybrid, the new normal for Exhibition Industry.
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has affected perhaps none more than Informa Markets, a subsidiary of Informa plc, the world’s largest exhibitions company, which was forced to cancel or postpone more than 450 exhibitions scheduled for the spring and summer.
But even as the world is living in a lock down era, the need to connect buyers and sellers endures, leading organizers across the industry to turn to virtual events as a means of keeping constituents engaged and recouping some lost business.
One such solution that has emerged is webinars, which the biggest and smallest of organisers are exploring to implement.
Informa Markets is now producing around three-times of Virtual events as it traditionally would have. Events of any kind unlikely to return until the fall at the earliest these online gatherings are laying the groundwork for the exhibitions industry’s path into the future, which organisers believe will move as hybrid live and virtual.
Michael Duck says ”This lockdown of the world’s Trade Fairs and its travel restrictions has stimulated B2B companies to work on a digital hybrid to keep in communication and to assist in trying to improve the economics of our customers. We are all also having to ‘Work from Home’ and so this means we can only communicate between oursselves also digitally . No doubt the speed and capacity of the Internet today also helps tremendously for us to ‘think out of the box’ somewhat and to let people in each unique industry to learn from others”.
Improvements can be made as we all know where webinars fail us sometimes with dropped or frozen lines … and often where people talk over eachother !.
He further elaborates “The Digital advances will not replace the B2B exhibitions but will enhance them as buyers and sellers still will need to see each other, talk to each other and forge business friendships that will drive industry for the future. When we attend trade shows we also come away with a sense of understanding the market better, feeling in what direction the trends go when I comes to products/ fashions/ pricing etc. this is very difficult to achieve digitally” .
This Hybrid of digital and show will become the ‘New Normal’ as much as we will have new rules for new normal in social distancing and hygiene regulations that can only be of benefit for all of us, our staff, customers and family’ concludes Michael with the hopes that digital will not replace the B2B but will only enhance the experience for buyers and sellers.
More about Michael Duck
Michael is currently serving as Executive Vice President and Informa Markets Group Chief Representative for China. He is responsible for India operations as well as the Beauty, Food/Building, Maritime and Fashion verticals. Additionally representing Informa Markets company for China relations. Michael has work experience in many geographies in Europe and the Oceania, and particularly in Asia with Hong Kong as a base, in the last 30 years. Michael is a member of the Executive Committee and Treasurer of UFI, and a member of the Executive Committee of the Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Industry Association.