Q. Please introduce yourself, sir.
A. My name is Prakash Shah. I am the Chairman of G.S. Marketing Associates and Chaiman of Business Development and Trade Promotion Committee as well as Exhibition and Trade Fair Committee of Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI).
Q. Please take us through your show’s portfolio.
A. We organize India International Mega Trade Fair (IIMTF) and Home & Décor Fair. In IIMTF, we have participation from National and International Corporate Houses, 20 State Govt., 15 countries, PSUs, and an average foreign participation of about 35 to 40 percent. On the other hand, Home & Décor Fair is a real estate, housing finance and allied industry exhibition along with real estate developer association of Odissa & Jharkhand.
Q. How does Demonetization affect your show?
A. I am proud to say that has had no effect on India International Mega Trade Fair held in Kolkata from 16th to 26th December in 2016. In fact, our participants shared that they have not done this huge amount of business in any part of India in past 10 years, which they have done this year.
Q. Please share your journey telling us how and what has been your biggest learning in this industry since 1994. Also please elaborate on how you began.
A. In 1994, I along with my senior founder member, Mr. SD Gupta, formed a company known as GS Marketing Associates. We started with organizing small exhibitions of 56 stalls based on themes in Ice Skating Ring, Kolkata. We would organize to 10 to 12 exhibitions in 12 months on each on separate theme. This is when a new idea struck us. We thought instead organizing 10 different exhibitions for different themes why not try organizing one exhibition for all the themes together at one venue. This lead to the formation of India International Mega Trade Fair starting from Bhubaneswar to Kolkata. Then we took this journey to Jhansi, Jamshedpur and Visakhapatnam.
I am very proud to share that we have recently signed an MOU with India Expo Mart Limited (IEML) Greater Noida and will be jointly organizing the next IIMTF from 4th to 15th August 2017.
Our exhibitions had started from 50 stalls a month and 500 stalls a year which now has reached 2000 stalls a year. And after the upcoming show at IEML, we are sure that it will reach 4000 to 5000 participants in a year.
Q. What impact has your shows created on its participants and exhibitors?
A. I am very happy to see how along with the journey of IIMTF, its participants have grown from scratch. For example, there was this electronics company from Kolkata known as Khosla Electronics who had participated in our fair. They had just 1 showroom. We started organizing electronics Fair with him for around 3 consecutive years. This enabled him to sell products worth Crores of Rupees. Now he has 28 showrooms in Kolkata. He gives the entire credit for this to GS Marketing.
Q. Can you recount an incidence where you successfully overcame a crises situation at your show?
A. We have faced many problems but we have made sure that we solve it without disturbing the exhibition. For example, in 2014, Ranchi was hit by a heavy cyclone during our show. The situation was so dangerous that we asked the public to immediately vacate the venue. We had announced that their tickets would be valid for the next year’s exhibition. The entire venue was vacated within 10 minutes. Soon after the cyclone was over, we started repairing the damages and we worked the whole night. Next morning some reporters had come to cover the damages they were surprised to see that there were no visible damages at the site.
Q. What do you do to add exhibitor and visitor value at your show?
A. We believe that our business is to grow the exhibitor’s business and until their business grows, we can’t grow. So every exhibitor should keep in mind that we should not just look on our own profit but also adhere our ethics and conscience. This will automatically bring both National and International participants to us when they see some real business happening. So, we always take care of the profit of our participants and exhibitors, we create excellent business opportunities for them. If any exhibitors want us to appoint distributors, we also arrange that for them.
In 1996, we organized the first Writing Instruments Fair in Kolkata. This was a time when Writing Instruments sector was extremely unorganized. We travelled throughout India and brought Reynolds from Chennai and Luxur from Delhi. We brought all the big and small companies producing writing instruments together on one platform. Within a span of 2 years, each company had its distributor and dealer network throughout West Bengal.
Q. What motivated you to come into the Exhibition Industry?
A. We are working in the Exhibition Industry out of fondness to do something extraordinary. We have other businesses too but entering this industry was not motived by profit. Our motive was to give back something to the society in return to what we have received. Till then, exhibitions were being organized in form of semi-mela open grounds and pandals kind of stalls. So we decided to raise the standards of Indian exhibitions to an international level.
So, when we organized India International Trade Fair, we had 20 to 40 percent participation from international clients.
Q. To establish a fair workers are always the back end support, which create the base of any exhibition. So is there anything that you would want to say to the initiative for the workers who actually made the event successful behind the scenes?
A. We see workers not as ‘workers’ but as ‘founders’ because they are the pillars.People notice only the work they have done; whatever is visible during the show but they may not notice or be aware of the amount of effort that has gone into the making of this show. Around 700 to 800 workers work hard in putting up one single show. So they are the pillars of our industry and we see as our family and we make sure that we provide them for their own and their family’s needs. We also help them a decent standard of living and education for their kids.
Q. What is your message for the Exhibition Excellence Awards?
A. I give my heartiest congratulations to EEA and to Exhibition Showcase for organizing this fantastic program, which is the lead of the industry. It is interesting to see how ES within a year’s time has come up with the second edition of EEA and you have taken it to a higher level. I wish ES all the best for excellency in an excellent field. I ask almighty to give strength to take it even further.