The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), which organises some 30 tradeshows annually, rolled out phase one of three of its Marketplace App at four consumer fairs earlier in January, following a soft-launch in November last year.
HKTDC’s assistant executive director, Sophia Chong, who hosted a networking lunch in Singapore this week, told members of Singapore’s trade associations, the e-Badge feature, which was well-received, will be gradually introduced to most of its trade fairs this year.
Apart from the e-Badge, the HKTDC Marketplace App also features HKTDC product magazines and supplements, the HKTDC Online Marketplace and hktdc.com Small Orders.
HKTDC has also enhanced its trade fair websites and launched a new year-round Exhibitions Online platform, which will go live later this year to enable online-to-offline connectivity between suppliers and buyers worldwide.
Chong said: “In 2017, the HKTDC fairs attracted more than 39,000 exhibitors from over 90 countries and regions, and more than 740,000 buyers from 200 countries and regions.”
With meeting space limited to around 60,000m2 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai and another 40,000m2 at Asia World Expo in Chek Lap Kok near the airport, Chong said HKTDC was not competing with mainland China for mega-size events.
She said the trade fair industry is in the midst of transformation and the HKTDC is leveraging on trends where buyers are buying less in quantity but more frequently by developing an “audit platform for startups and SMEs in certain industries which can buy anywhere between one and five, and up to 1,000 items.
“By mobilising the HKTDC’s different department and overseas offices, we can offer services for a better experience for buyers and sellers.
Chong added: “Phases two and three of the HKTDC Marketplace App will be rolled out over the next 24 months. A (product) showroom is under development and we are now looking into the intellectual property rights, password protection and advertising opportunities on the platform.”
Tradeshows will not disappear even with the technology innovations, Chong opined, because buyers and sellers need to build business trust over the years with face-to-face contact.