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Are exhibitions losing their charm?

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DQW Bureau
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Snigdha Karjatkar Mumbai, Nov 30

OND quarter is the beginning of the exhibition season for the

channel community as this is the time when all the prominent IT associations of

the country are busy organizing their gala event of the year. For some it is

just an annual feature and for some it is a prestige of the association. Almost

all the A and B-class cities have been witnessing IT exhibitions for almost half

a decade. But the poor turnouts at the recent expos held in across the country

have left participants asking only one question: Are such exhibitions losing

their charm?

For participants the main expectation from an exhibition is to

get noticed by large number of potential customers in one go. However,

participants now feel that this basic expectation is not being met at

exhibitions because of poor attendance and organizers should seriously look at

ways to charm back people into exhibitions.

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"Today, the whole IT products trading community is running

on uncertain state. People wind-up their business within 2-3 years, and then it

becomes a problem for end-user service support. The exhibitions help in

conveying a message to users that the company still exist and is very much a

part of the industry," said Amit Shah, Secretary, Baroda IT Association (BITA).

Manoj Lalani, Lalani Computech, Bhubesneshwar has been actively

participating in the exhibitions but now is reviewing his stand on the same.

"Participating in exhibitions has become a liability. It is just for the

peer pressure that we have to participate in the expo. Exhibits are already

known to visitors, moreover, with shrinking margins the cost of participating in

the expo does not justify the presence anymore," he added.

According to Lalani, expos have now become platforms for

end-user to get the cheapest deal and squeeze the best bargain from the

resellers. For instance, students just walk in and collect the leaflets and

freebies, which puts a question on the nature of the visitors. "It's

important to attract the right kind of audience to the event," expressed

Lalani.

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Given the mundane nature of the expos, its time to review the

exhibition formats. "It's time for organizers to think from a different

perspective while organizing exhibitions. Instead of having too many channel

partners showcasing the same brand of products and fighting over price, let

vendors directly participate at the expo. Vendors can showcase their products

while channel partners can do the value addition of manning the stall,"

added Lalani.

BITA, this time is actually working out ways to attract new set

of people to the event. "It is time to explore new industries and attract

them to the technology. For instance someone who deals in garments on a small

scale may not be too keen on using computer. But if the expo is arranged near

his work area he might walk-in and find something for his use," said Shah.

"We had 21 companies participating directly in the our

expo. Although there were no new technology coming up, this time people were

curious to know more about the Intel Dual Core processor," explained Pawan

Jajodia, Chairman, Expo Committee, Compass.

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"If there is direct participation from vendors it makes a

difference. The companies showcase their products and end-user gets a chance to

see the products that are available in their region. But if channels participate

they focus more on their brand and not on the products. This makes a huge

difference," Jajodia.

The major concern for participants is the declining footfall and

moreover getting the right kind of crowd to attend the event. "The expos

are now no more attended even by the dealers, so end-user would require

something more attractive to pull him to expos. For instance demo of X-Box on

massive scale would be just one of many things association can do to attract the

crowd," said Vikas Mundhra, Branch Manager, Best IT World.

Participating in the expo has become a customary thing for most

of the participants. "It is most of the time a branding exercise as we have

to be present when the rest of the community is present. Not participating is

not good but at the same time participating in the expo is not doing very good

as well," said Mundhra.

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