Exhibitions are Our Business!
Allow me to extend my gratitude to the editorial staff of the our magazine for its support on our international exhibitions. The magazine?s makes a positive contribution to the favourable investment image of the country, and provides a positive information background of the region is obvious. ITE?s and Iteca?s managers regularly read the magazine, think highly of its independent evaluations, and well-selected topics, as well as its competent coverage of events. On behalf of our teams, I wish you every success and prosperity.
ITE Group Plc, Director, CIS and Turkey
Your company is an exclusive partner of ITE Group Plc, UK, one of the leaders in the international exhibition business. In this respect, could you tell about ITE in general, and what is ITE’s global strategy and that of co-operation with Iteca?
ITE Group Plc is an association of exhibition companies and agencies, working in different parts of the world, with its headquarters in London. In 2003, the company organised 114 events in 16 countries, whereas this year, the company has strengthened its leading position in the exhibition business in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Central Asia, with the addition of 10 new events.
The international network of the ITE Group of companies has a 10-year history of co-operation with Iteca, the leading Kazakhstani exhibition company. For instance, on Iteca’s exhibitions IEG Gima has been working with German, Austrian and Swiss companies; there is a local ITE office in Italy, EUF in Turkey, ITE LLC in Moscow; OOO Primexpo in St. Petersburg, and many other ITE agents in Asia and Europe, who have been regularly bringing new companies to Kazakhstan from their countries. This collaboration promotes the region’s industrial potential in Western Europe and the CIS and, consequently, participation of foreign companies in Kazakhstani projects.
As far as the company’s strategy is concerned, ITE intends to expand its business, paying special attention to our activities in Russia and the CIS countries. We believe the economic development of these countries will continue, and this will strengthen our positions on these markets.
Iteca specialises in conducting exhibitions and conferences in Kazakhstan and Central Asia. What is so special in the exhibition business in our region? What problems do you encounter, and what are the ways out? What is the government’s role in this issue?
The development of the exhibition business throughout the world does not depend on the state’s resources, but works independently, according to basic market principles. However, the exhibition industry welcomes the active role played by the government, where it has a positive impact on commercial development - when this positive input is measured by benefits received by the industry.
I can state the success of exhibitions depends on a number of factors, such as: the quality of the exhibition area, service, and professionalism of the exhibitors and visitors. All these depend on the exhibition organisers, and not on the state which cannot hide an exhibition’s drawbacks.
In my view, there are three main areas where the government can make a positive and direct contribution to the exhibition business. Firstly, infrastructural improvement around the exhibition centres - transport, communications, power supply, as well as other services. The second important contribution may include partial or full subsidising of national manufacturers’ national stands at exhibitions abroad. It is standard practice for most countries, as exhibitions are very important instruments for the promotion of a country’s exports. The third area that allows the state to have a positive effect on the exhibition business, is a rational intergovernmental trade policy, in particular in relation to VAT and customs tariffs, for example, allowing VAT to be offset between participating countries, or decent customs policies, allowing freight to pass quickly through, and without duty.
There are several other areas where the role of the state is important and useful. For example, support from the respective ministry and its participation in the opening ceremony will undoubtedly raise the prestige of the event. Moreover, there are many cases when an exhibition, especially a leading one, has a positive impact on the prestige of the ministry and the image of savvy politicians, who know that support for an exhibition reflects their openness to new ideas, willingness to know the industry, and respect for business - big and small, domestic and foreign.
Exhibitors of Iteca’s exhibitions include many leading foreign companies, the fact that demonstrates very high requirements for the organisation of events. Are there any peculiarities in working with clients in Kazakhstan?
I find it more logical to point out the similarities, as we have tried to bring a recognised culture and standard to our events, and we believe our Kazakhstan exhibitions and exhibitors, although small, are growing and are as professional as any of our larger events in other countries. Our exhibitions follow a common ITE business model which concentrates on a strong brand name, with the centralised responsibility for commercial marketing and co-ordination of international associations. Meanwhile our agents form national groups for different events, and the local offices are responsible for on-the ground and technical provision, and relationships with local clients and the state officials. This is a model that has proved useful for the clients and the host country in the past, and has made it possible to expand the exhibition series across the world.
We have also elaborated a very strong service culture for our local clients through our Kazakhstani partner, Iteca, which is now an important part of the ITE world network. In 1994, we began enrolment of the best graduates from higher education institutions of Almaty, Astana and other regional centres, and train them about exhibition and conference management techniques. All of them were young, vibrant and eager to learn, so we would send them to our offices in London, Hamburg and St. Petersburg. They regularly go on business trips to learn about leading international exhibitions in their respective sectors. Twelve years after, our local specialists are as good as any foreign exhibition manager; they are knowledgeable and attentive to what clients look for, and to what the clients expect from a respected international exhibition.
What exhibition projects have become your priorities in Kazakhstan? Please summarise the previous exhibition season. What events have become the most vivid and important?
In Kazakhstan, 2003 was a year of anniversaries for us: the 10th anniversary of the main forum in the telecommunication and computer technologies industry - KITEL; the 10th anniversary of the health care exhibition - KIHE; the 10th anniversary of KazBuild (the exhibition on construction and interior, heating and ventilation); the 5th anniversaries of the projects in the capital: Astana KITEL, AstanaFood, and AstanaBuild.
The oil and gas exhibition and conference, KIOGE (the largest one in the Caspian region and known to all oil specialists throughout the world), remains a shining event, as well as the exhibition and conference Mining World Central Asia, a unique event in the mining industry, which unites Kazakhstan and Central Asian countries. There is the tourist fair, KITF, that we hold in close co-operation with the RK Agency for Tourism and Sport, and many other events. These shows hold particular importance for us, as they help promote sectors so important to the future of the Republic; mean while our team at Iteca, get the opportunity to work not only on a major international event, but to fulfil what is in essence a patriotic duty. In 2004, Kazakhstan will host more than 35 professional exhibitions and international conferences - in Almaty, Astana and Atyrau (thirty were held in 2003). We are adding 5 new themes to our portfolio this year as well as expanding into new markets.
Iteca has reached out to the neighbouring market, Kyrgyzstan, having successfully organised the first international construction exhibition, BishkekBuild 2003. Despite its relatively small size (40 companies took part in the exhibition), 82% managed to establish new business contacts during the exhibition, and 17% of the exhibitors concluded real contracts during the exhibition. Starting this year, exhibitions in Bishkek are going to be held on a regular basis.
We have offered new promising topics, which cover the packing and printing industry - KazUpack and KazPrintMedia exhibitions - which had received approval and support from specialists. This year’s exhibition will have an extensive agenda and programme for specialists. Other new exhibition themes were also started. This was a very productive year which demanded from us a number of internal structural changes and expansions.
Almaty has a long history of being the traditional venue of exhibitions in Kazakhstan. However, you have significantly expanded the geography of exhibitions during the last years. Please tell about regional projects in Astana and Atyrau - what are their specifics, and what are the difficulties?
The launch of exhibitions in Astana in 1999 owed much to the transfer of the capital, attracting investment into the construction industry (hence AstanaBuild), telecommunications sector (Astana KITEL), the development of the city’s infrastructure and the need for new services (AstanaFood, Astana Zdorovie). Astana is developing at a rapid pace, and Iteca now organises 5 events a year, including the conference Astana Invest. However, it should be noted that the infrastructure needs to be developed in this respect. There is still a lack of direct air flights, hotels, and restaurants to service 2,000 to 2,500 exhibitors and delegates (not to mention 12,000 visitors). It is also important that Astana lacks facilities or structures that could house a project like such big projects as we hold in Almaty.
In 2002, we started a new region, Atyrau. The 1st North Caspian Regional Exhibition Atyrau Infrastructure 2002 consisted of three sections: Oil and Gas; Construction and Interior; Heating and Ventilation; Telecommunications and Information Technologies. At that time, about 70% of the exhibitors signed protocols of intents with customers during the exhibition. The level of interest and importance of the event reflected the real interest in this oil-rich region. Today, four specialised exhibitions are held separately (AtyrauBuild, AtyrauTelecom, North Caspian Oil & Gas, AtyrauFood).
What are your company’s plans this year? What events will be held for the first time?
We develop topical exhibitions on the chemical industry, Chemie, on electrical and other non oil and gas sources of energy, power - Power, on transport and logistics - Transit-TransKazakhstan (the project is being implemented jointly with our partner, Atakent-Expo). We are moving ahead and developing new projects which include exhibitions on waste recycling technologies and environment protection - Caspian Ecology and Ecotech, on business consulting, a ConsultExpo, on quarrying, construction of industrial facilities, road, housing and communal construction, road repair work, Kazkomak.
This year, an international forum The Caspian: Politics, Economy, Business is being initiated by the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan’s, jointly with the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and KazMunaiGas National Company CJSC.
We are happy we are able to combine the development of both prioritised, and niche well but promising projects: on fashion and beauty - Moda Kazakhstan, Textile, Beauty; in the cleaning industry - Clean Expo; on household appliances and electronics - CEM Central Asia; and on sports - Sport Expo.
In conclusion, could you tell a few words about the company’s involvement in the social life of the countries you work in. What specific charitable and social projects are being implemented in Kazakhstan?
Clearly, our exhibitions in themselves, play an important role in the public life of Kazakhstan, and it is our privilege that we work in a sphere that is not only a business, but has a profound effect on the scientific and educational development of the republic and its citizens. Each exhibition is different, but each can make a contribution to the way we use medicine, spend our free time, how we eat and drink, how we use technology. An exhibition is not just a market-place, but a forum for the exchange of ideas, and transfer of knowledge.
Meanwhile ITE and Iteca try and play an active role in supporting social and charitable projects in the Republic. We do this through the revenue we receive from visitors. Usually exhibition organisers earn a substantial part of their revenue through the sales of tickets to visitors. For example, when we organised our clothing exhibition in the UK, we charged $15 to about 10,000 visitors. In Kazakhstan, we sell tickets at a minimum price (approximately 100 tenge), and we donate all proceeds to charity. This money has supported the Society of Disabled Children in Astana, the Children’s Department of the RK Institute of Cancer Research, the Almaty Special Boarding School for the Sight-Impaired, the Centre for Social and Psychological Aid to Homeless Children, the Almaty Zoo, and others.
Also, on the initiative of our partners, Atakent, we have established a charity fund, Akniet, which use resources our companies donate, to support various projects, such as the provision for an orphanage, the equipping of a village school, the provision of a university education to needy children. And of course I should mention our famous annual dinner, to which we and Atakent invite about 250 veterans, pensioners and respected elder citizens, so we can express our thanks to them for giving the younger generation the opportunities we have today.
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