Russia's exhibit industry - opening to opportunities

Russia's exhibition industry is now worth $US 0,5 BLN. The country hosts over 1,000 fairs a year, though the number of trade shows is falling as the market matures and events get bigger.

Russia’s main exhibition venue – the All-Russia Exhibition Centre was built in Stalinist times. It was the Soviet Union’s visiting card showing the country’s latest achievements in fields like agriculture, transportation, and space exploration.

In the 90’s, the Exhibition Centre turned into a big market place as the only way for the complex to survive was renting its pavilions to smaller retailers. The operating company says it's now time to reinvent the park.

Service, service, service – that’s the only thing that differs us  [Russia] from world level…

Michael Mandel,
Messe Dusseldorf exhibition operator

“Today, telling the world about our achievements has again become as important for the state as it used to be,” Nikolay Bugaev, Deputy Managing Director of the Centre, explained.   

The exhibition industry in Russia grows by 15% annually and is now a $US 0,5 BLN sector.

The All-Russia Exhibition Center is coming together fast. Analysts say it may soon outclass the city’s main venues, Expocenter and Krokus Expo. Currently these three complexes are hosting most of Moscow’s trade-shows.

An exhibition operator, Michael Mandel, from Messe Dusseldorf says the industry is its own worst enemy.

“We already have a big number of fairs or trade shows. Unfortunately, we are facing the problem of lack of coordination. We have shows with the same topic at the same time. This is the most inconvenient competition,” Mr Mandel commented. 

There's certainly room for newcomers. Insiders say Reed Exhibitions, Nurnberg Messe, Munchen, and Hanover will move in. A more diverse market will clean up dirty competition. Analysts say, competing with global brands may help Russia bring its exhibition business to a higher level.

“Service, service, service – that’s the only thing that differs us from world level,” Mr Mandel added.

Exhibition organizers say top international fairs can offer up to 500 different services to their clients from car parking to wireless internet access. So far, Russian events provide only a fifth of those. Fair operators believe the state should cash into the sector. They say exhibitions are still one of the main tools to raise a country’s profile in international business and the key to boosting exports.