Over the past year, numerous physical exhibitions around the world have been cancelled or rescheduled due to the pandemic. The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry (UFI) estimates that the industry contracted by 68 per cent globally in 2020 compared to the previous year, losing around US$370 billion.
Despite this challenging environment, the HKTDC recently launched its International Sourcing Fair with the online version starting last week and finishing on 29 July, while the physical fair is held from 26 to 29 July at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Benjamin Chau, deputy executive director of the HKTDC, is optimistic that trade activities can begin to return to normal amid the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines, however, he believes that international trade exhibitions will continue to be held online through the first half of 2021.
“Even when the pandemic eases, we expect a hybrid model of online and offline sourcing to become a dominant trend,” he explained at a recent media press conference.
“To help Hong Kong businesses adapt to an increasingly digitalised sourcing model, the HKTDC has set up quality online platforms and support services and has leveraged ecommerce capabilities and new technologies to provide a seamless online-to-offline (O2O) experience for suppliers and buyers.”
As the pandemic continues to keep people apart, the online International Sourcing Show enables buyers and suppliers to conduct meetings and stay connected through an exclusive online exhibition platform that offers business matching and video conferencing functions.
Once the pandemic situation has eased, businesses can join the physical show at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre to explore further opportunities
In addition to exhibiting in the usual formats, some exhibitors have opted to use 3D virtual booths to promote their brands and products in more eye-catching ways.
“The online-and-offline model of the International Sourcing Show will create synergy between the two exhibition formats. We will also mobilise the HKTDC’s network of 50 offices worldwide to help exhibitors and buyers make the best possible preparations,” Chau adds.