Dayaker Reddy: Virtual meetings are gaining momentum

Dayaker Reddy, president of IPAMA says, "Virtual meetings are gaining momentum owing to the current situation prevailing in the country. However, virtual exhibition is not the alternative of a physical or face-to-face exhibition."

30 Nov 2020 | By PrintWeek Team

Dayaker Reddy, president of IPAMA

What is the update on your shows?
Indian Printing Packaging and Allied Machinery Manufacturers’ Association (IPAMA) is busy marketing the 15th edition of Printpack India exhibition (scheduled to be held at India Expo Centre, Greater Noida from 3-8 February, 2021, but postponed to a later date, which is yet to be announced), in which 282 exhibitors have already confirmed their participation. We had also received 21 new applications during the peak period of Covid-19 between March and August 2020 for booking of space, which shows the inclination of the exhibitors/participants towards Printpack India exhibition in particular and the exhibition industry in general. The Government of India has already permitted holding of B2B exhibitions, which is good news for the exhibition industry. 

One thing that you wish you could’ve done to keep the industry up and running...
IPAMA has been regularly interacting with the members and office bearers and simultaneously getting feedbacks on various issues relating to running of the manufacturing units during the pandemic. We had also been in constant touch with trade organisations such as CII, PHD, FICCI and government agencies to identify how to minimise the impact of Covid-19 on the industry. IPAMA had also provided necessary assistance to trade and industry, wherever required during the pandemic.

A typical SOP to be followed at exhibition centres...
The pandemic has affected the entire world badly, including the Indian community. However, as an association and organiser of an exhibition, the impact has been on the minimum scale, as most of the exhibitors of Printpack India 2021 have not yet reacted to the postponement or change of dates of the show. We have also prepared our own SOPs and we will also follow that of Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), Government of India.

Apart from the SoPs, following precautions will be taken:

  • Strictly follow all government SOPs and self-maintained SOPs.
  • Will allow only visitors who have registered online, no physical touch.
  • Will check temperature at every point.
  • Automatic sanitising machines at every entry/exit point.
  • Isolation rooms for ill visitors.
  • Information counters for visitors regarding Covid-19.
  • Free distribution of water bottles to avoid needless touch.
  • Maximum entry/exit points to minimise crowd.
  • Regular announcement for social distancing and other precautionary measures.
  • Free distribution of masks at different places.
  • A Covid Vigilance Cell to check whether all precautions are being followed properly.

Describe what future exhibitions will look like...
It is hoped that the current situation will not continue for a very long period.  It will definitely be under control in the coming months. The exhibition industry will also be on track well by the end of the next year, even though marketing and finalisation of various arrangements for an exhibition is a time-consuming process. The future exhibitions will be organised as usual.  As per our assessment, the government agencies and other organisations already working on Covid-19, will succeed in controlling the disease sooner or later.

Online meetings and virtual expos: are we looking at the future of exhibitions?
We agree that the virtual meetings are gaining momentum owing to the current situation prevailing in the country. The system of working from home is also being adopted by some of the sectors. However, virtual exhibition is not the alternative of a physical or face-to-face exhibition. The physical exhibition is organised not only to sell/purchase products but also for networking, witnessing live demonstrations of machines, comparing the quality, and identifying technology and trends of the industry. In a virtual format, we miss many important parameters, especially emotions and feelings, which are important in business dealings.

Will digital platforms capitalise on virtual meetings?
Digital platforms and virtual meetings are two different systems used for serving the purpose of the concerned parties.

Has digital intervention trumped in-person meetings?
While digital intervention could be a time saving process, it cannot take the place of in-person meetings. During in-person meetings, many things are discussed to arrive at a consensus.

Hypothetical question: How will the exhibitions look like if there’s no vaccine for Covid-19 at all?
Every problem has a solution. Exhibition can be organised even during the peak period of the pandemic by using precautionary measures. Even though there is no vaccine till date, the Government is running public transport systems by adopting preventive measures.

One message to your friends in the exhibition industry...
It is a testing time for the exhibition industry. Patience is must at this stage.  Things will definitely improve in the coming months or by the end of next year.

Will our next meeting be virtual or face-to-face?
You can plan as per your convenience; however, face-to-face meeting has different impact and feelings. It could be virtual or face-to-face. IPAMA is prepared for both, with no reservations.