Team UNITE 2020 wanted to be the first ones to host a show through global time zone, which meant keeping the floor open 48 hours over two days. Sujit Banerjee, Ambassador – Team UNITE 2020 and Director of Yatrik.com, speaks about the show’s success despite the challenges.
What was the main idea behind organising UNITE 2020?
It all started with a worldwide lockdown. When Saleint CEO and Owner, MahimaTripathi, who represents Yatrik.com for Canada and USA, came up with the idea of a virtual global event, it grabbed my attention. The idea was to provide a sense of collaboration, unity and an opportunity to look beyond the horizon with a positive mindset. We decided to take this idea forward – and UNITE the leisure and M!CE fraternity, help build relationships and be ready when travel is back to normal. With all physical events cancelled, this was the logical path to tread. We chose to combine leisure and M!CE segments, which most trade shows don’t do.
What were some of the challenges the team faced while working towards this?
Getting a software company that could build a platform specific to the travel and tourism industry was the first challenge. All companies we approached had done all kinds of events but never one based on tourism. It also meant they would have to create software from scratch. Add to that few aspects we wanted to add that had never been attempted before and something difficult to replicate in the future, if not impossible. Finally, after speaking to over two dozen companies, we decided to move forward with one that checked most of the boxes on our list.
How was it different than the other virtual exhibitions that are happening right now?
For one, we did not wish meetings between buyers and exhibitors to collapse due to internet speed issues. Hence, we decided to have all three options – video, audio and chat. This decision did help immensely during the show. We also wanted to be the first one to do a show through global time zone. This meant keeping the show floor open 48 hours over two days, with tech support for those many hours.
Can we expect a UNITE 2021?
UNITE will be an annual event and be held in September each year, maybe even the same dates. For now, it will strictly be a virtual trade show only.
What do you think will help open up the sector faster?
The countries that get their fundamentals right will be the first to recover, and those who ignore it at the national and international level will have a long wait. India may do well to follow an aggressive path by using IATO and DMC/hoteliers to educate FTOs and consumers directly, showcasing safeguards the country is taking to protect visitors. It will have to put in place a medical mechanism and facility where such incoming clients can take refuge in case of