Chennai does not have a grand convention centre, but its trade fair organisers are making the best of the available resources.
Chennai can claim the top spot in the country in the fields of education, health care, automobile industry and information technology, but when it comes to giving industry or anyone else space to showcase their achievements, New Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Coimbatore are way ahead of the Tamil Nadu capital. The city does not have a proper venue where national or international trade fairs and exhibitions can be held. The only one that is available, the Chennai Trade Centre (CTC) at Nandambakkam, cannot be compared with Pragati Maidan in New Delhi, the Trade Fair Complex of the Coimbatore District Small Industries Association (CODISSIA), the Hyderabad International Convention Centre and convention centres in Bangalore.
The CTC is a joint venture of the India Trade Promotion Organisation (ITPO) of the Government of India and the Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation (TIDCO). Seasoned organisers of exhibitions in Chennai say there is no alternative to the CTC, which itself is booked up to 2015. The CTC itself is not a spacious facility, say organisers. It has only four halls now, and three more are to come up. In Hall I, the cooling system is not working well. Yet it is being rented out. So every organiser suffers. The ITPO should show more interest in the CTC, said a trade fair organiser.
Yet, the industry that organises trade fairs and exhibitions in Chennai has done well since its beginnings in 1990. The construction industry and real estate business are big exhibitors, and fair organisers have tapped their potential. Prompt Trade Fairs (India) Private Limited in Chennai has organised 64 exhibitions in the past 10 years, and most of them have been on the construction industry. Udayakumar E., its chief executive officer, said: In these fairs and exhibitions, we get a one-to-one interaction. They are a good marketing platform and help in the promotion of products. The real estate boom in Chennai sparked interest in these trade fairs to the extent that now there are separate exhibitions on construction materials, sanitaryware, paints, motor pumps, kitchen fittings, and so on. Udayakumar said: We did an exhibition on roofing technology, which is a big industry now.
He has organised exhibitions in Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Madurai, Tiruchi, Coimbatore, Tiruppur, Vellore and Puducherry. We provide stalls, furniture, lighting and promotional items for hire. To bring in the crowds, we do promotions in newspapers, television, radio and on buses using panels, he said. The India-International Build Expo is the latest fair his company has organised, from July 20 to 22, in Chennai.
Syed Zakir Ahmed, chairman and managing director, Zak Trade Fairs and Exhibitions Private Limited, said that trade fairs and exhibitions were a clean platform and a powerful medium for marketing. They not only helped showcase products before national and international markets but enabled manufacturers to get instant feedback from buyers. Exhibitions offer manufacturers a big opportunity to network with other vendors and become aware of the latest developments in their fields, he said.
Founded in 1994 in Chennai, Zak is one of the biggest companies in India organising trade fairs in both business-to-business and business- to-consumer segments. It has so far organised 350 exhibitions, including in steel, aluminium, glass, wind energy, construction industry, textiles, jewellery and garments. Zak has also organised exhibitions on packaging materials, pharmaceuticals, electronic goods, chemicals, processed food and signages. Ahmed claimed that Zaks exhibition on doors and windows in Mumbai in December 2011 for a builder who had to build 2,000 apartments helped the builder finish his project on time.
An exhibition is normally held for four days. An ideal venue should have all facilities built in proper telecommunication facilities, strong flooring, passages, seating arrangements, parking lots, toilets, drainage, signages, and so on. If the floor is weak, machinery worth lakhs of rupees, which are on display, will be ruined, said Ahmed.
Zaks unique selling proposition, he says, is in organising exhibitions on themes. The company has organised trade shows on consumer electronics, diabetes and eye care, and more than a hundred exhibitions on jewellery. It is planning to organise exhibitions on herbal products, medicinal plants, spices, biotech products, and the hospitality industry.
Ahmed said Chennai needs to be more proactive in organising exhibitions. The State government should provide organisers with more facilities and incentives. This will help the State earn more revenue and also boost tourism. A lot of businessmen and tourists from abroad visit our exhibitions, Ahmed said. According to him, organisers had to obtain licences from a number of government departments and the police. This procedure should be simplified and permission given on the spot, he said.