Interview with Bhupinder Singh, CEO – Messe Muenchen India;

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ES – How is business shaping up for Messe Muenchen India? What has been impact of economic developments on your trade fairs in India?
Bhupinder – The year 2017 has been one of the most successful for Messe Muenchen India. We concluded the year with new best performances and remarkable growth across our network in India. Messe Muenchen India once again significantly exceeded its targets for sales and earnings, and further expanded its position as one of the most profitable trade fair companies in India. We reported a 48% growth in revenues (from FY15 to FY17) announcing a continued double-digit EBITDA growth in 2017 across the business. In terms of overall business health, we reported growth across all the trade fairs and witnessed an increase in number of exhibitors and visitors.

ES – Recently, Messe Muenchen India has acquired the Smart Cards Expo. What is the expansion strategy of Messe Muenchen India and are you looking at more acquisitions?
Bhupinder – We have a long term view for the India market and our expansion strategy revolves around it. As a company, we are looking to expand our domestic footprint with new launches, geo-cloning our shows and exploring possibilities for mergers and acquisitions. This acquisition will enable us to further strengthen our position in the technology trade fairs space and enter a niche market with these well-positioned shows. We acquired Smart Cards Expo along with the co-located shows IoT India Expo, e-Security Expo, RFid India Expo, Biometrics India Expo, e-Payments Expo and Mobile Payments India, which were previously owned by Electronics Today. At present, we organize some of the leading technology oriented trade fairs including electronica India, productronica India, LASER World of PHOTONICS India and analytica Anacon India. As part of our expansion strategy, we are looking at niche trade fair topics which align well with our core exhibition sectors, fitting our international expansion strategy.

ES – What do you think is the current growth rate of the exhibition industry and future trends that you foresee?
Bhupinder – The Indian exhibition industry has grown at approx. 8-10% over past few years – offering concrete and measurable ROI to participants than ever before. The Indian exhibition market is ‘open for business’ and ‘value proposition’ is going to be influence the business. The trends suggest that the size of the exhibition and organizer will not influence as ROI from the event will continue to be the ‘key to satisfaction’ for customers. One can expect small to medium sized independent show organizers to flourish, given their ability to offer tailored-events, speedy decision making capabilities and quick response to the industry changes. International trade fair organizers will continue to capitalize on their global network strength and bring their market expertise to play. While smart use of technology at trade fairs is essential to grab the attention of our customers, exhibition organizers will also need to understand attendees on a deeper level. Our trade shows must be deeply integrated into the industries we cover. What does this mean? We as trade fair organizers may no longer just simply produce an annual event. As our customers evolve, we must commit ourselves to the industries we serve. This will further involve producing content in any of the formats like market research papers, educational workshops and seminars, and instructional videos.

ES – Tell us about your company strengths and core values. What is your people strategy?
Bhupinder – People before strategy has been our success mantra so far! Messe Muenchen India is a ‘People’s company’ and we put our people at the core of everything we do. As a company we are proud of our team and are constantly investing in their growth and development. We are pleased to be associated with the CEM – Certified in Exhibition Management program and nominated our team members for the same. The program is conceptualized by IAEE – International Association of Events & Exhibition and is managed in India by IEIA – Indian Exhibition Industry Association. Our team is passionate about the work they do – as a company we ensure to enroll them in the right leadership and alignment programs that contributes to their skill and personality enhancement. Our employee exchange program (EEP) and visit to headquarters in Munich is another step towards realization of employee development objectives. We also plan for sporting events which I am sure serves as a good time-out from our busy event calendar. The most important aspect we look for in an employee is that they should fit into our corporate culture. Aggression is imperative and vital in an organization that is growing as fast as ours. We believe that aggression needs to be channelized and it should be equalised with – empathy and a constant desire to positively impact our customers. Having said that, we continue to focus on integrity and compliance across the board.

ES – What differentiates Messe Muenchen India from other companies?
Bhupinder – As a business, ‘customer first’ approach remains to be at the center of our strategy. We thrive to remain rooted with the industries we serve and plan our events keeping in mind the expectations of our customers. As a company, our ‘people strategy’ is the key differentiator – we believe in giving complete creative freedom and equipping the team with risk-taking ability. Though our emphasis is on high-level strategy, we lay immense focus on execution. Our organisational culture allows dynamic and open communication. There is constant focus on team alignment and transparency which allows frank discussions and speedy decisions. We acknowledge and celebrate even our small successes. Our culture helps expand individual capabilities and this reflects in our results.

ES – Could you throw some light on your role at IEIA – Indian Exhibition Industry Association? What are the initiatives planned by the association for the development of the industry?
Bhupinder – What I particularly enjoy about my role at IEIA is the opportunity to meet so many talented colleagues who represent a wonderful mix of fresh ideas and years of experience. We are living in a rapidly changing world – where continuous deliberations and idea generation is the key to the future of the exhibition industry. As an association we are working towards defining a growth formula for the industry – to create more value for the customers and to attract younger generation to become part of this fascinating industry. The association wears many hats – we offer networking opportunities with our IEIA Open Seminar, learning opportunities with the CEM program and play an active role of trade facilitators by bringing key delegations from many countries together. As an apex body, IEIA drives positive change and continues to serve as the voice of the exhibition industry.

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