In Conversation with LC Goyal, Chairman and Managing Director, India Trade Promotion Organisation

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ES: Can you please share with us how has the IECC project shaped up so far, and when can we expect to see the first phase of it ready?
LC Goyal: The IECC project along with traffic interventions, both are in full swing. We have specified timelines for both of them, the IECC should be completed by end of September and the traffic segment should be completed by August next year. We have a PERT (Programme Evaluation Review Technique) chart, and it gives us review of detailed activity that needs to be undertaken with certain timelines. This has been possible only because of close and intensive monitoring by our team. We have a project monitoring committee, and I personally spend around two hours everyday on these projects. I can tell you without any hesitation that we are 100% on schedule. As far as the first phase is concerned, internal arrangements have been made and we are trying to deliver three new exhibition halls by February next year. This will give us 50000 sq mt. of space, seven months in advance.

ES: Can you please share with us how was the financial year ending March 2018, for Pragati Maidan in terms of number of shows held during the year & overall revenue generated?
LC Goyal: 2017-18 was not adversely effected by the renovation projects. We have been able to maintain normal growth and have even managed surplus over expected revenue. The redevelopment project started in September, but expenses only grew this year. So in 2018-19 our revenue from operations will register a sharp fall. In that sense this year our overall operational revenue will not be positive.. Infact, for both 2018-19 and 2019-20, we predict a fall in revenue generation. But we expect that 2020-21 will be a good year for revenue generation. As of March this year, we have a surplus of Rs. 1600 crores and out of that we have only utilized 1200 crores.

ES: Apart from the external redevelopment what kind of changes in processes can we see in the new Pragati Maidan as compared to the old one?
LC Goyal: ITPO is a service provider and we have to provide quality, friendly services to the exhibitors and event organisers. This is our bread and butter. If we don’t come off as a friendly unit then our infrastructure won’t be used. I am putting Rs. 3,437 Crore for both the projects. And this entire money is ITPO’s own money, no specific budgetary is taken. It is being monetized through Pragati Maidan’s revenue and its revenue from events. I have also taken a loan from SBI which will be paid off from the revenue generated by ITPO. Unless I reorient the attitude and approach of my staff as an interface with outside Stakeholders, I will not be able to ensure optimal use of my venue. As a part of that, in May 2018 we created SPC – ‘Single Point Contact’ that is now a part of our Business Development region. Anybody interfacing with ITPO may not go to different divisions like finance, marketing, security etc; they only need to coordinate with the SPC. I have received a very positive feedback for SPC. I have delegated full power to the Deputy General Manager with regard to the decisions to be made about SPC. Another initiative that we’re taking is related to the numerous approvals and clearances that event organisers need from other acting agencies like govt. bodies, DCP licence, traffic, entertainment, fire, electricals, which makes around 8 to 9 such clearances that need to be procured. We are now in the process of getting a General Premises License so that all the exhibition & convention organisers at Pragati Maidan do not need to obtain separate clearances barring Fire and Security. Even for these two, we will facilitate it for them. This system will ensure streamlined processes and procedures and is expected to promote great response from potential clients.

ES: How do you view digitalization?
LC Goyal: When I joined ITPO in September, 2015 I found that the use of IT and Tech in various facets of ITPO’s functions was almost zero. We were not even doing e-tendering, even for small purchases, let alone big ones. Then we took on a massive program to increase the use of IT in functions, which is almost complete by now. We are not only doing e-tendering now but also booking exhibition halls for ITPO events and will soon start the same for third party events. We have refurbished our corporate website as well. And as I told you, we have also implemented the SPC project successfully.

ES: After the Redevelopment will there be some changes in the venue tariffs?
LC Goyal: Till now we have our normal tariff policy. The bookings for future two years too, are as per the normal tariff that is active now. But our present policy has in its structure that the revised tariff (if any) at the time of exhibition will be applicable, instead of the tariff at the time of booking. We will definitely need to make changes in the tariff and a research of tariffs and services in comparative venues is being done for the same. We will revise the tariff in such a manner that:
A) We are able to compete in the National and International Market because we want to capture both. And,
B) Since so much is being invested and through so many sources, the changes will be made keeping in mind that we need to repay to the sources.
There can also be a situation where we’ll have a tariff structure for the old complex and a different slab for the new halls. Certainly in terms of quality, scale and access, both the halls are very different.

ES: Any comments on the IICC venue project being developed in Dwarka? Do you think this will impact the shows that are being held in Pragati Maidan?
LC Goyal: India is growing and next few years we’ll be the third largest economy in the world and we expect the MICE sector to grow exponentially. There is tremendous scope for Asia and India in particular, and hence opportunity exists for both the complexes. I don’t think there is any threat to viability of any of the complexes. There is no fear or doubt that both the complexes will function effectively and there will be world-class events happening at both of them.

ES: Can you educate us on your recent initiative of opening up of a Convention Bureau? And what is the structure of the Bureau going to be like?
LC Goyal: NDECB – New Delhi Exhibition and Convention Bureau, is an initiative to promote Delhi as a preferred destination for events and exhibitions. Although there are many events happening, but there still exists a huge potential to attract large, world class events here. I have had a series of meetings with all the stakeholders – venue providers, exhibition management companies, organisers, trade bodies, logistics, hospitality, etc. & they have shown a good response to this idea. Now we need to finalize the memorandum. The bureau will have an Advisory council which will have 10 Members, including chairman and ED of ITPO, and remaining will be different stakeholders of the industry. I always feel infrastructure is one part which is required and at the same time mechanisms are required to promote optimal utilization of infrastructure not only in Delhi, but across cities, in that context we have decided to go ahead with this bureau. It will be registered as a society very soon. This bureau is going to be totally independent of the govt. ITPO has taken this initiative entirely as a venue owner, to promote events for the city of Delhi. And if events come to Delhi, given the location of my venue and the projects which are under process, I expect that the events will certainly come here.

ES: We see in developed countries like Germa

ny which have a large exhibition centre in every major city and it becomes a centre of business for the local economy. What according to you is the impact of having an exhibition venue in a city and can this model be replicated in India?
LC Goyal: The criticality and importance of exhibition industry must be understood. I don’t think any other industry has more multiplying effect than this industry, directly and indirectly. It’s even more critical than tourism industr

 

y because this industry contributes to tourism along with other sectors as well. I totally agree that we need world class convention facilities across all regions as exhibitions are the catalyst to the economic growth. Unfortunately, till 2015 the realisation was not there that we need State of the Art, world-class convention centre in Delhi. The first time our Prime minister, Mr. Narendra Modi took a meeting in December 2015 and said that both Pragati Maidan and Dwarka must be taken up in a fast-track mode. This realisation in terms of infrastructure has come and venues are coming in Mumbai, Bangalore, and certainly such venues are also needed at the district level. As per ITPO, we have two subsidiaries in Chennai and Bangalore; where we have Exhibition venues including the convention facility.

We have approved two more subsidiaries at Tampore near Srinagar and in Kochi. These two are in the pipeline, and have almost been approved. Both Chennai and Bangalore expansion plans have also been approved.

ES: How has been the growth of ITPO’s own shows, both organic and inorganic? And are we going to see some new shows in the near future in the domestic and International Market?
LC Goyal: We have 16 shows every year that we conduct directly and we have one or two shows in the North east, One le

ather exhibition each in Calcutta and Chennai each. Therefore, in total we have around 15 to 16 domestic shows. We used to hold around 32 events overseas, that number has increased to 54 this year. We have a positive trend there and we’ll continue with it. As far as the new events are concerned we are thinking of having 1 or 2 events in suitable locations especially in South African region, centred around the leather industry, where we will hold a collaboration with the Confederation of Indian Footwear Industries. Let

‘s say we start with Kenya, Ethiopia. I am being told that there will be a tremendous response in the footwear industry that we can very well compete with China in terms of quality and price. We want to expand this idea and increase the number of overseas events even more so that we can help the domestic industries to grow their businesses. ITPO needs no separate mandate to fulfill this mission.

ITPO as of now conduc

ts overseas events directly, we are now playing with the idea that whether we can start collaborating with other Trade Related bodies to hold overseas events. These events will help in expanding exports in a big way. If we know the market and the product, we can easily capture the market share there. We have to just identify such products which have a ready market. “The idea is not to make money overseas, but not to lose ITPO’s money either.”

ES: You are promoting Make In 

India, Brand India and other govt. initiatives. Is the government giving you any directions or mandate for the same?
LC Goyal: What’s ITPO’s basic mandate? ITPO’s basic mandate is to promote trade both Nationally and Internationally. We are an established enterprise in the Department of Commerce, Government of India. It is my mandate and I don’t need any further directions on that, it all depends on my organisation as to how effectively I discharge my mandate. This mandate has been there for so long, it’s only a question of taking it to the next level. And I earnestly desire to work in this direction.

ES: During the Global Exhibition on Services, 12 champion sectors were announced. We did not see Exhibitions as one of the priorities in these sectors, what is your opinion on that?
LC Goyal: The recognition of this industry is so important and critical. It is time that the contribution of this sector is recognised. Very recently, I was discussing that govt. should come up with something called ‘Meet in India’, on the same pattern as ‘Make in India’. This would be to promote India as a destination for events, exhibitions and meets. I plan to take this idea to the ministry, Make in India is on the DIPP side and this program Meet in India can be on the DIC side.

ES: Can you tell us about the recent CSR initiative of ITPO?
LC Goyal: There are certain thresholds in terms of income, & 2% of the surplus is the has to go towards CSR. In 2015 when I joined ITPO there were around 5-6 Crores which was lying in the CSR fund and not being used. I felt very upset about it because any organisation or corporate must spend money with certain objectives to help the society in a generic way. In our country despite best efforts of the government, education and healthcare are deficit. Children and people suffer due to a lack in facilities. CSR has to be used in such areas, and I think that for the next 5-6 years the entire CSR money must be used for health and education and maybe skill development in order to make a visible and valuable impact. At ITPO, we have identified some of these areas for our CSR and built a hostel block for blind children. When you go there and look at those ‘Netraheen’ children and see them going to school, it is immensely satisfying. It was not done out of compassion or sympathy, but rather it is their right and it is my duty. We added another floor when they asked us to, and when I saw that the toilet facility was bad, we spent more than a Crore on that. We are also upgrading the classrooms now.

ES: A few candid questions for you, so that our readers can get to know more about you:

Q: What are your hobbies?
LC Goyal: My only hobbies are work, work and work. Once when I was on a leave of two months from my work in the Finance Ministry in Kerala, for my daughter’s wedding, I couldn’t sleep because of a lack of work and had to go to a doctor for the same (laughs). This is a very easy job in comparison to my previous role.
Q: Your Favourite Business Locations?
LC Goyal: I like to stay in India and rather my office and my home are my favourite. Unlike the nature of this industry, I am not a travel person and like to be in my own space.
Q: Secret to Success?
LC Goyal: I have always believed that my work is worship. And that leading by example is the best form of leadership.

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