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Exhibiting growing pains in India

By Kate Simms and Kelli Steckbauer

India is an amazing country rich in culture and history, but has the ability to instill fear in even the most seasoned event and tradeshow manager.   Despite having an exhibit industry that has been growing at 10-12 percent per year, many of the exhibition halls throughout India are 30-40 years old and have not been recently renovated. There are a few newer venues that have been built; however, they are inconveniently located at least an hour outside the cities.

ECN 062014_INT_IndiaThe older exhibition halls do not meet the demands and expectations of international exhibitors.  To continue to grow the exhibit industry in India and to continue to attract large international shows, this needs to change.  The good news is, according to industry experts, there is a push for change in the near future.

Until then, how can you make your show or event run as smoothly as possible, and what should you expect when exhibiting in India?

As with any show – solid planning well in advance of your event is critical.   Working with an exhibit partner who has international experience and who has vetted local partners to execute your build can help relieve a lot of that stress.  Their knowledge of the local market, logistics and how booths are constructed will allow them to keep things running as smoothly as possible. Their advice on what materials are recommended/not recommended due to the onsite conditions will also help you achieve the best possible outcome.

I had the opportunity to recently visit Pragati Maiden – the largest venue in New Delhi.  Below are some of the challenges noted and what should be taken into consideration in planning and in design/material choices.  It is important to set proper expectations as the standard practice and acceptable quality in India is not in line with what is considered standard and acceptable in North American and European companies. Prepping your team and embracing the differences, rather than fighting against what you can’t change, will make your experience more enjoyable.

Pragati Maiden challenges:

  • Ceiling heights vary from hall to hall and cannot accommodate any sort of rigging or lighting from the ceiling.
  • Palletization of stand materials is nearly impossible as loading/unloading happens in the last mile to the exhibit hall and is hand carried into the hall by laborers.
  • Glass is recommended in place of acrylic because the more you clean the acrylic, the more dust it attracts; India is naturally dusty and the dust created from the work on-site only compounds the situation.
  • Most AV needs can be accommodated; however always check first and book it well in advance.
  • Extremely short set up times; two days is common regardless of stand size or complexity of the build.
  • The flooring is very uneven, so utilizing a raised floor is highly recommended.
  • Reliable and steady electrical service is questionable so plan accordingly!

With a little planning, research and embracing what you can’t change – you’ll be off to a successful show in India. Happy exhibiting!

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