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Be an active player in the exhibition industry

————Interview with Gu Chunting, Vice Chairman of CCPIT Shanghai Sub-council & Chairman of Shanghai International Exhibition Co., Ltd.

Can you please briefly give us some insight into the key results of Shanghai International Exhibition Co., Ltd., which most people know as SIEC, in 2018?

Gu: SIEC achieved outstanding results in 2018. It held 15 exhibitions encompassing in the aggregate an exhibition area of 600,000 square meters, hosting more than 5,000 exhibitors and more than 300,000 visitors. During the year, two of the exhibitions, the China Wedding Expo and Die & Mould China 2018 successfully completed an upgrade by moving to the National Convention and Exhibition Center in Hongqiao, Shanghai, setting new records in terms of scale. The second Belt & Road Brand Expo was well received by the public and did an excellent job of explaining the benefits of the Belt and Road Initiative to the public. The recently implemented globalization strategy has demonstrated some excellent initial results, with the International Auto Parts and Service Exhibition, the Belt & Road Brand Expo and the Fashion Life Show being held in Chongqing for the first time. As a point of note, the company relocated its offices to the Hongqiao business district. In our new offices, we will further align ourselves with world-class standards, focus on holding world-class exhibitions for brands, create a world-class exhibition company, and lay a solid material foundation for the company's future development.

The Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition, more commonly known as Auto Shanghai, has always been touted as a drawing card for the city of Shanghai. As the host of the auto show, can you give us a brief run-down on what we can expect to see at Auto Shanghai 2019?

Gu: Auto Shanghai 2019 will be held at the National Convention and Exhibition Center in Hongqiao, Shanghai from April 18 to April 25, 2019. The theme of this year’s show is “Create a Better Life,” which will not only showcase some of the results of innovative developments that have taken place across the world's automotive industry, but also accelerate the in-depth integration of the automobile with advanced manufacturing, information and communications technologies, the Internet, big data and artificial intelligence. In line with the new trends towards electrification, network connectivity, intelligence and making vehicles that are lightweight, the humanity of the automobile will be increasingly highlighted. Not merely content with being simply a conveyance from point A to point B, the automobile will become our true partner, know our preferences, plan the way we travel and enrich our social life, delivering the perfect ride experience through man-vehicle interaction. Auto Shanghai 2019 will be held at the National Convention and Exhibition Center in Shanghai, and will host all of the world's major automobile brands.

As Shanghai is increasingly focused on the goal of transforming itself into an “international exhibition capital”, what do you think of the recent evolution of the city’s exhibition environment? Has SIEC been an active player in the evolution?

Gu: Last year, the inaugural China International Import Expo, an event that came into being as the result of a major decision dedicated to promoting a new round of high-level opening-up made by the Central Party Committee led by President Xi Jinping, was held in Shanghai. As a result of the expo, government departments are now paying much closer attention to the exhibition industry. After EXPO 2010, the whole of society has become acutely aware of the importance of the industry. Successful hosting of the first China International Import Expo has played a leading and benchmarking role in many aspects of the standard operation of exhibitions. SIEC, one of the organizers of this first China International Import Expo, has led and participated in the event, including active involvement in many aspects of the preparations. SIEC's involvement has focused on three key efforts: securing the presence of the exhibitors in the auto pavilion; designing and launching the expo’s official website as well as the many channels for the distribution of information about the event; and working with the Council for the Promotion of International Trade Shanghai in organizing the high-profile trade groups that attended the event.

In your opinion, what are the new trends in terms of the direction of China’s exhibition industry?

Gu: I have two key thoughts come to mind: first is the application of new technologies in exhibitions. Over the recent years, new technologies, including face recognition, big data and cloud technology, are increasingly coming to a stage of maturity. The technologies, as they gradually move from concept to application, will play an important role in the exhibition industry’s future development. In previous years, face recognition technology was still just a concept, but over the last few years, the technology has started to be applied in exhibitions. The technology does away with the cumbersome certification system, providing a better experience to exhibition visitors. It is generally accepted that in the future, the development of new technologies will bring more novel approaches to the methodologies behind exhibition displays, driving the intelligent development of the exhibition industry and transforming the whole industry into “intelligent exhibitions” with a new look.

Second, further diversification into how exhibitions are promoted. With the new generation consuming information in entirely new ways, the promotion of exhibitions has evolved from offline efforts to online ones focusing on the mobile phone, such as several new media formats through which to channel the message, most notably through video. This offers a host of new ways that are accessible to the key demographics that marketers are seeking to reach: the post 90's and post '00s.

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