RE Rogers CMD and IEIA International
Ambassador Ravinder Sethi gives EW some
exclusive insights into the fast-moving
situation within India’s exhibition market
s India successfully
executed the complex
logistics of a 14-hour
curfew across the
country of a billion people on 22
March prior to a more general
lockdown, we asked Indian exhibition
industry guru and logistics leader
Ravinder Sethi to share some insights
into the challenges his team at RE
Rogers have been dealing with during
this time of heightened anxiety:
The whole world is going through
untested waters - India and RE Rogers
are no exception to this. We started
our preparations for new lifestyles
(personal and work) weeks ago – and
put ourselves ahead of the game.
More important and rather critical
was to take immediate steps at macro
levels for the following:
• Ensure health & safety is non-
• Bring the best out of everyone in
these challenging times
• Keep the morale high
• Keep prayers alive, especially for
those who are affected the worst
I also made a global video appeal
covering the above points.
What special changes have you had
to make and adaptations from the
normal work regime?
We had started our ‘work from home’
preparations some weeks ago. A core
team drew up plans on how we’ll
handle the situation if and when it
w w w.exhibitionworld.co.uk
CMD of RE Rogers
Our offices all over India switched
to ‘work from home’ on 13 March.
Some felt we overreacted, but
everyone now applauds us for our
We start the day with the top
management on skype/zoom chalking
out the day’s plans.
On the operational side, customs
documentation is processed on home
installed systems; sales carried on
via video calls/Skype; and we run
a skeleton warehouse staff for the
Heath and safety for all colleagues
and their families is critical. We had
provided masks, sanitisers, and other
items in advance to all our staff.
Most important, was the continuing
education process for everyone on
how to go about this new life.
My message to anyone who’s not in
this situation – and I pray you never
get there – is please prepare well in
How has the Indian market and
industry reacted to this threat?
Let me share some good news in
these challenging times.
Our financial year closes on 31
March and our exhibition season is at
its tail end by end-February. So, when
the virus hit India, most major events
(Auto, Imtex, Indiawood, DefExpo,
etc.) had already taken place.
There are shows which got
postponed but, on the whole, we are
much better off than the rest of the
Indian industry remains very
strong and that augurs well for India
to remain as a future global business
Our government has been
phenomenal. Precautions were put in
place well in advance. As of now (23
March), the curve remains marginal.
The Indian Exhibition Industry
Association (IEIA) is also leading from
the front. The Executive Committee
(of which I’m a member) has taken
several confidence-building measures
Keeping members updated on the
fast-changing health and corporate
issues, to making representations for
subsidies on losses has been our main
focus right now.
We’re also returning to business as
usual on other issues. New dates for
our postponed Open Seminar plus
our other programmes are in process
of being worked out.
What lessons can we learn globally
as an industry here?
The main lesson is realising how
globally interconnected we are. It’s
not regional anymore - any country
affected by anything will have
We’re all in it together and
‘Together Strong’ is a reality. I
compliment IELA, our logistics
association, in spreading this message
What might change as a result of
this experience, such as more use
of event tech and remote working?
The traditional exhibition industry
will rebound fast and very
aggressively. Event tech will have its
own place, but face to face will never
However, there’ll be a change
in traditional work styles. Remote
working will be more common, both
for cost curtailing and for greater
Issue 2 2020