Nirav Bhansali, Convener of the National Exhibitions Sub-committee at GJEPC, shares his insights into the planning and execution of the first-ever IIJS Tritiya, which is timed to capitalise on demand for the most important gold-buying occasion after Dhanteras. He elaborates on the efforts towards making IIJS Tritiya a high-quality experience, the imminent launch of a dedicated IIJS App, and the mission of going carbon-neutral among other things.
What should visitors and exhibitors look forward to at the inaugural IIJS Tritiya by GJEPC?
They should look forward to the best quality of exhibition that IIJS is known for and which we have been improving over the years. A lot of efforts are going towards providing a very seamless, safe and high-quality experience from the moment visitors step into the show – like the amenities, transport arrangements, parking arrangements, etc. that were done at IIJS Signature this year.
South India is a very important market for the gem and jewellery industry, so we are making a lot of effort in getting the right customer to visit this exhibition. We have a very extensive list of elite VVIP customers in terms of their purchasing power, the big important retailers in every segment—we want to bring them to the show. We already have a very positive response in that direction.
IIJS Tritiya will not feature Machinery exhibitors, as IIJS Signature already had a Machinery section and so will IIJS Premiere.
Based on the feedback received, we have also decided to revise the timing of the exhibitions; they will now run from 11:00 am to 8:00 pm. The late start suits the retailers and also helps participants to avoid the peak traffic rush.
This year, we have also on-boarded 2 Star and 3 Star hotels to assist exhibitors in finding budget accommodation for their staff.
As we did in IIJS Signature, this time again there will be a Lab-Grown Diamond section at Tritiya. The LGD section was very well-received and generated lots of interest. Along with that, we are continuing with Launch Pad, Networking Evening, Seminars featuring top-quality speakers, good entertainment at IIJS Tritiya. We will also be having a new branded cafe with an ideal business atmosphere, an air-conditioned cafeteria with exciting food options, and much more, so that the ambience and experience of doing business is enhanced.
What is the main reason for targeting the South India market with the first-ever regional IIJS show?
GJEPC is not in the business of doing exhibitions. We organise shows only for servicing the needs of our members. We first started IIJS (Premiere) and then over the years there was a need for another show, so we added IIJS Signature. When we did our IIJS Premiere show in Bangalore, there were a lot of requests from our members to hold a permanent South India show. They suggested that we plan an event around the Akshaya Tritiya festival, which is an important occasion for the South Indian region. So that’s how the idea took root.
So now, it’s decided that every year, one month prior to the Akshaya Tritiya date, we will be hosting this event. That will give a lot of opportunities to retailers and suppliers to cater to this particular important occasion. After Dhanteras, the next big important occasion for jewellery buying is Akshaya Tritiya, especially for the southern India region.
The location is not always going to be Bangalore, we may hold it there for 2-3 years and then move on. We’ll call it a southern India show. But IIJS Tritiya will become an annual calendar event like Premiere and Signature that the industry will look forward to.
Does GJEPC have plans to hold smaller regional IIJS shows in other markets (north, east…) across India?
Like I said, we are not in the show business. There is no other plan. Maybe some regional Buyer-Seller Meets might happen for specific product categories like coloured gemstones or lab-grown diamonds. At least in the near future, I don’t see any new IIJS show being introduced.
How do you envision GJEPC’s role evolving as the organiser of the largest G&J trade fair in India and possibly among the top 3 shows in the world?
Making IIJS the biggest show is not the primary goal. For us the most important thing is that we make it worthwhile for our exhibitors and visitors. In Bangalore, there was a lot of demand and we could have added one more hall. We already have 1500 booths for this edition, and with the additional space available, we could have easily added another 500 exhibitors—but that’s not the aim; we want to make the event rewarding for the participants.
If you put together the 3 IIJS shows being organised this calendar year 2023, I think we might be the largest or 2nd in the world. But that’s not our goal. We want to ensure that our shows are well-organised, generate good business, and people must look forward to them next year – that is our aim.
You had introduced the ‘Murmuration of Starlings’ theme at IIJS Signature 2023. Is there something similar planned for IIJS Tritiya?
‘Murmuration of Starlings’ was decided as the theme for the entire year, so you are going to see the same theme carried forward across all the three shows this year. The theme is all about bringing everybody together, flying as one, and soaring in the sky to new heights.
The One Earth tree plantation drive was launched at IIJS Signature. Has the response been to your expectation? What are the plans going forward?
We had targeted 50,000 trees in the first year, but by IIJS Signature itself we surpassed our internal target. The initiative is very well-received and so we became a little bolder because of the support of our industry members. We have now set a new goal of 1 lakh trees for this year.
We’re also in the process of identifying and appointing some consultants, who can help us calculate the carbon footprint of the shows. If we can’t replace some elements, then we can try to offset it by planting trees or any other initiatives that will help reduce carbon footprints.
The aim is to make all our events carbon-neutral, and also educate and empower and collaborate with the industry so that they themselves become aware of this very urgent need to save the planet. And they should start applying those same principles to their own businesses, educating their own people, and thereby reducing overall carbon footprint of the entire industry.
Have you set any personal goals/milestones you would like to achieve as Convener of National Exhibitions Sub-Committee?
For me as the Convener of IIJS there is no milestone; it’s a journey. So every day, we try to find new ideas that can improve the shows, add new elements to it, build around it, provide value-added services to our members, etc. We want to stay engaged with the IIJS family not just during the shows, but all year round. A number of initiatives are in the pipeline – and we will announce it going forward in the next two-three months.
This year we are launching a dedicated IIJS app. Every single facility, right from registration, show information, booking of seminars, networking evening, and so on – more than 50 utilities have been put on this app to make the entire show experience seamless.
We have created a ticketing system for IIJS for exhibitors. So, if they face any issues and need a quick resolution, they can raise a ticket using the app and their grievance will be addressed and the response from the manager or vendor will be automatically tracked in real time using AI in the fastest and the best possible manner. And the information that we’ll gather will help us eliminate those problems for the future.
These and other small changes in multiple areas like easy entry, mobile charging stations, self-help kiosks, etc. will enhance the overall show experience.