Exhibition Showcase Talks To Thomas Schlitt, Managing Director, Messe Düsseldorf India Pvt. Ltd.

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ES: Please share with us when and how you started your journey in the exhibition industry?
Thomas: I started my career as a Sales Engineer in the Telecommunication Industry with Bosch Telecommunications. Beside Sales, I was responsible for the group’s participation in relevant trade fairs. I was also taking care of the marketing communication activities related to Sales division. During that time, I was fascinated on how trade shows touch base businesses and act as a catalyst for trade promotions. This motivated me to explore further opportunities in the exhibition industry.

ES: Can you share with us how has your professional journey been? What were your turning points and major landmarks in your journey?
Thomas: My initial stint with the telecom industry gave me a first impression of the trade fair business. This experience has encouraged me to enter the exhibition industry. In my next assignment at ZVEI – German Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers Association – as Director Sales Promotion my responsibilities were to support the member companies to tap into promising markets by organizing German Pavilions worldwide. These Pavilions were subsidized by the German Government and were highly appreciated by SMEs as an Export Promotion. Many new experiences unfolded when I took over as a Project Director with Messe München GmbH responsible for the development of trade shows abroad. Further, the exciting part of my career was with NürnbergMesse GmbH, where I was responsible to set up the organization structure of representative and international offices especially, Austria, India, Italy and North America. It was thrilling to understand country standards for creation, foundation, steering and controlling businesses in foreign lands. Another major landmark in my professional journey was to take over the position as Managing Director at Messe Düsseldorf India in 2015. I am fortunate to have had so many diversified experiences so far.

My journey in India has so far been a truly wonderful learning experience. There is much that I have learnt during my tenure and which has allowed me the opportunity to create a meaningful impact on the exhibition portfolio for Messe Düsseldorf India. In a world of profound changes, with the acceleration of innovation and a growing competitive landscape in the exhibition market, it is necessary for the Messe Düsseldorf Group in India to assert its identity through the creation of powerful brands catering to the wide array of markets. This for us is the right time, when we are riding the momentum of our recent successes in exhibition portfolios, strengthening our existing exhibitions by adding new target segments and creating new entities by mergers and acquisitions. We cater to some of the important industry sectors in India and would like to take advantage of this increased level of visibility to further grow our profile.

ES: What all exhibitions do you organize in a year?
Thomas: Messe Düsseldorf India has been successfully carrying off established trade fairs like Energy Storage India, in-store asia, Medical Fair India, glasspex India, glasspro India, pacprocess & foodpex India, India Essen Welding & Cutting, wire India, Tube India and Metallurgy India. Besides organizing promising trade fairs in India, the company is also responsible for promoting the exhibitions of Messe Düsseldorf group in India.

ES: What is your most successful exhibition property? Can you elaborate on its key achievements over the years, along with its facts and figures?
Thomas: All exhibitions organized by Messe Düsseldorf are successful in their respective sectors. Amongst others, Medical Fair India is a prominent exhibition in our calendar. Medical Fair India is a part of the MEDICAlliance and is a trade fair for Hospitals, Health, Centres and Clinics, held annually, alternating between Mumbai and New Delhi. This is our biggest portfolio globally as well as in India. It serves as a platform for industry experts and stakeholders, to share and discuss tangible solutions to the variety of healthcare issues and encourage collaborative efforts for the development, improvement and growth of India’s healthcare industry. Medical Fair India impressively continued its growth and kept pace with the positive trend in the industry. More than 12,000 trade visitors attended to see the healthcare innovations and current trends showcased by 550 exhibitors. The number of visitors has gone up by 15%. The 25th edition of the show in 2019 in New Delhi promises to bring 600+ exhibitors from 25 countries with 15,000+ visitors.

ES: What kind of an impact do your shows make on the industry? Do you receive any support from the government?
Thomas: Messe Düsseldorf Group endeavors to create platform for networking, giving market impulses, knowledge transfers with fellow industry members and thus creating trustful business relations. Our topics make a significant contribution to many business sectors around the world. The more global a business sector, the more important is the role of trade shows in bringing buyers and sellers together to ensure business development.
We get support from the government bodies including chambers of commerce and trade promotion organizations to get subsidies for group participation and country pavilions.

ES: What according to you is the significance of conference and other knowledge sharing sessions at exhibitions?
Thomas: I am a firm believer that the additional forums like conferences and workshops within exhibitions provides knowledge transfer, networking and deeper insight in technical developments, learning and understanding of the trends, challenges and opportunities in that industry sector.

ES: What do you feel about recent surge of mergers and acquisitions in the exhibition Industry?
Thomas: In exhibition industry, mergers and acquisitions are an effective way of scaling a business by acquiring pre-eminent event brands, as well as bringing access to new geographic and vertical markets. The exhibition industry, with many recent examples, remains attractive to strategic and financial buyers. Consolidation has been a prominent and recurring theme in the B2B exhibition sector over the last ten years and we can expect this trend to continue. The dynamics of the events industry are also highly attractive to the private equity investors. Strong profitability, cash generation and a high degree of forward earnings visibility brings them into picture.

ES: How is Messe Düsseldorf India performing as compared to Messe Düsseldorf subsidiaries across the world?
Thomas: There is a positive development with all subsidiaries of Messe Düsseldorf. They are progressive and contribute significantly to their respective economy. Since inception, the Messe Düsseldorf team in India is dedicated to closely work with both Indian as well as international partners and further be a catalyst for the development of trade industry in India. The journey started in 1982 as a Foundation of first representation office in Mumbai. In next 10 years, our Indian office started to organize its own shows on the Indian subcontinent. Since 2001, Messe Düsseldorf is represented with a daughter company and subsequent foundation of Messe Düsseldorf India. An in-depth understanding of market dynamics along with commitment to our clients has made Messe Düsseldorf India a leading trade fair company in India.

ES: What is the state of the Indian exhibition industry? What are the emerging threats and opportunities in the Indian exhibition industry?
Thomas: The exhibition sector in India is making all-round efforts to tap the enormous potential offered by the growing Indian to be revamped and thereby utilize economic opportunities. Therefore, venue creation holds the key to future growth. Also, exhibitions are a sector that creates employment opportunities, therefore, relevant skills and training programs are the need of the hour. Lastly, the priority is that the exhibition industry in India should be granted an industry status.

ES: What can Indians Learn from the Global Exhibition Industry?
Thomas: Best practices and Knowledge should be exchanged in order to learn from each other and to optimize the standards of the exhibition industry in India.

ES: What have been your major learnings in this industry? What do you cherish the most about being in this industry?
Thomas: Exhibition industry provides you with a 360 degree approach to your business acumen. With my stints in different countries, I have encountered different cultures. This has allowed me to have deeper interaction for cultivating and developing business relationships.

ES: Exhibitions is stressful Industry to work in. How do you manage and maintain work life balance?
Thomas: It is important to have a balance between your work and the other areas of your life so you can be productive, healthy and happy both at work and outside of it. I love travelling, meeting family & friends and running.

A Quick Rapid Fire
The Last Book you read – “The White Tiger” by Aravind Adiga
Your Favourite Cuisine when you travel – Italian Cuisine
Your Favourite Holiday Destination – The Alps
Your Favourite Quote – “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything New,” Albert Einstein
Your Inspiration in Life – getting to know people / dealing with all different kind of people

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