“Our Indian team, at present, is very professional and dynamic running around 22 exhibitions and over 35 conferences in our portfolio. Even in terms of revenue, we have risen from € 1.8 million to approx. € 10 million in the last 5 years in this country which is definitely commendable.” – Raj Manek, MD, Messe Frankfurt Trade Fairs India Pvt. Ltd.
When a globally successful company faces hurdles in setting up and consolidating operations in any country, it becomes a challenge that requires vision and commitment. The same is true about the journey of Messe Frankfurt in India. Currently held as the foremost exhibition organizer in India with a strength of over 130 employees, Messe Frankfurt went through a major churning process five years ago under a fresh leadership. Strong business acumen, a stupendous relationship network and an edge in the domain knowledge have made it a huge success in India today with its trade fairs currently spread in all the central hubs like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Chennai and even Gujarat. Apparel Online discusses with Raj Manek, MD, Messe Frankfurt Trade Fairs India Pvt. Ltd., the real backbone behind this inspiring journey, about the challenges faced by him during the pitfall and his out-of-the-box strategies that have created the new face of Messe Frankfurt in India.
Today, Messe Frankfurt India has established its credibility with a strong team and very successful fairs to its name. “Our Indian team, at present, is very professional and dynamic running around 22 exhibitions and over 35 conferences in our portfolio. Even in terms of revenue, we have risen from ¤ 1.8 million to approx. ¤ 10 million in the last 5 years in this country which is definitely commendable,” shares Raj with a sense of achievement. Over five years ago when Raj was entrusted with the responsibility of Messe Frankfurt in India, he first took the decision of setting up a strong foundation by bringing in a group of new and motivated people with the right domain knowledge to take the efforts forward.
Though Manek is based out of London, he has created a system that ensures the smooth functioning of the India operations at all times. “Organizing an exhibition is not rocket science. Our business in not complicated, rather people make it complicated,” reasons Manek. One of the first things that Manek did was to make his managers autonomous and confident enough to use their decision-making powers. Once his managers became self-reliant, the business was running efficiently. “The biggest challenge initially was that all managers were dependent on me, for everything, they would come and ask me, they needed my permission for everything,” he says, adding that building good teams is his forte. “No business should depend on one person, rather it should be the process of the whole team, which builds the company and I always implement this everywhere I go,” avers Manek.
Among the many changes that followed, was the decision of separating the conferences from the exhibitions to make India a hot spot in both areas, a strategy that has helped the company increase its business manifold with popular events like Techtexil Symposium and Texcare Forum currently being a part of it. “People looking after the exhibitions are not so aware of the subject domain and constitute the trading platform while the conference team is always into in-depth research and forms the knowledge platform for any organizer. It is essential that the knowledge platform comes before the trading platform because the transfer of knowledge is the first part to enable the enhancement of any business. Thus, value addition is the path that leads an exhibition to popularity.” Guided by this ideology, the conference division of Messe Frankfurt has separate skill sets – marketing, delegate sales and sponsorship sales operating independently of the exhibition team.
With the tag of a global company having offices in Shanghai, Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, the exhibition icon accepts that doing business in India is a different ball game from doing business in other parts of the world. Here, tabloids rule the reign irrespective of the fact that the potential visitor seen in any exhibition rarely comes because of them and hence, one has to pay hefty amount to these media giants apart from also adapting to hoardings on the streets. But Raj has transformed his thoughts majorly for progressing in this country and takes every possible pain to ensure that his Indian shows have a base of domestic visitors. He also informs that his company does not feel the requirement of advertising for international visitors on its shows as the repetition of the shows accompanied by the Government’s “Make in India” campaigns drive people from outside to source in India. Giving an insight to his leadership mantra, Raj shares, “I know what my show should look like by its 5th edition and I start building my concepts from day one. It does not happen overnight or instantly. I always build a concept based on the visitors’ profile and the exhibitors’ profile.”
Being already a pioneer in the world of trade exhibitions, the company’s quest for scaling new heights does not stop here. Having several collaborations to enhance its knowledge base, Messe Frankfurt has decided to organize the Texcare Forum in India towards the end of 2017 after a thorough planning of two years and definitely seeks to promote even small exhibitions as far as they are focused and get quality visitors who give the exhibitors their return on investment. “Indian shows must have a place for domestic exhibitors. I am here to service the Indian market and the focus is to create a platform for the Indian business to grow,” concluded Raj.