The organisers of international trade fairs in Azerbaijan summed up their activities in 2019. Caspian Event Organisers “CEO” and Iteca Caspian held 21 annual trade exhibitions and 3 conferences. The first Azerbaijani non-oil exhibitions WorldFood Azerbaijan, BakuBuild and Bakutel celebrated their 25th anniversaries with great success, while Caspian Ecology celebrated its 10th anniversary. In addition, Caspian Event Organisers provided organisational support to 12 international events: IOI 2019 – 31st International Olympiad in Informatics, WCO IT/TI Conference and Exhibition, UIA International Forum, Azerbaijan Neurology Week and others.
In 2019, international exhibitions in Baku gathered 1,838 exhibitors from 53 countries, of which 986 were foreign companies. For the first time, Mongolia joined the countries participating in the exhibitions in Azerbaijan. Russia, Turkey, and Belarus were first, second and third in terms of number of companies represented at the exhibitions. At various exhibitions, 21 countries presented 33 national, and 24 regional stands.
In total, 50,537 visitors from 75 countries around the world were registered at the exhibitions. The geographic span of the visitors expanded significantly in 2019, with the top three countries, Turkey, Russia and Iran, retaining their leading positions in visitor numbers.
The country's leadership has paid attention to exhibition activities in the country and this year was no exception. President Ilham Aliyev visited the Caspian Oil and Gas, Caspian Agro, WorldFood Azerbaijan, Bakutel exhibitions, and also sent letters of greeting to participants and visitors. The attention the government pays to exhibitions, and the support of the interested government agencies has a tremendous positive impact, and is the key to success. The visit of the President to the exhibition is always an additional impetus for the development of the industry, a demonstration of the care and attention he pays to the market’s participants.
The President of the United States Donald J. Trump also sent a letter of greetings to the participants and guests of the Caspian Oil and Gas Exhibition and Conference, and the video message sent the UK Secretary of State for International Trade, Liam Fox. The Secretary General of the World Tourism Organisation Zurab Pololikashvili sent the letters of greeting to the AITF Tourism Exhibition participants. The exhibitions were also popular among foreign branch ministries and international structures. The list of exhibitions guests included Igor Vasilyevich Lyashenko, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Belarus, Houlin Zhao, the Secretary General of the International Telecommunication Union, Kent D. Logsdon, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Energy Resources, Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, Minister of Communications and Information Technologies of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Minister of Transport and Infrastructure of the Republic of Turkey Mehmet Cahit Turhan, Amir Hossein Zamaniniya, Deputy Minister of Oil of the Islamic Republic of Iran and others.
Exhibitions and Conferences, organized by Iteca Caspian and Caspian Event Organisers are actively supported by state structures. Some of them actively represented their interests at stands at the exhibitions in 2019: Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Azerbaijan, SOCAR, Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of the Azerbaijan Republic, Ministry of Education of the Republic of Azerbaijan, State Housing Development Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Union of Architects of Azerbaijan, Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Azerbaijan State Tourism Agency, Food Safety Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan, IDEA, ABAD, DOST Agency of the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of Population of the Republic of Azerbaijan, E-Gov structure of the State Agency for Public Service and Social Innovations under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Azerbaijan Export and Investment Promotion Foundation (AZPROMO), the National Confederation of Entrepreneurs (Employers) Organizations of the Republic of Azerbaijan (ASK) and Small and Medium Business Development Agency of the Republic of Azerbaijan support all scheduled exhibitions.
The Small and Medium Business Development Agency (SMB) organised a stand for small and medium-sized businesses at 6 exhibitions (WorldFood Azerbaijan, Gift, Eduexpo, BakuBuild, Caspian Ecology, Bakutel), thus helping hundreds of small and medium enterprises access the markets. As part of this support, SMB offered their products and services to an audience of thousands, expanding sales opportunities and building new business relationships.
In the success of exhibitions, the role of partners and sponsors is important. In 2019, the partners of the exhibitions were SOCAR, BP, NB Group, Azercell, TPAO, Azeri MI Drilling Fluids, AZFEN, Baku Steel Company, BOS SHELF, Caspian Drilling Company, Сaspian Marine Services, RussNeft, Socar Polymer, Tekfen Construction, Royal IHC, Kapital Bank, Pasha Bank, Equinor Azerbaijan, Gasprombank, Petronas Azerbaijan, INPEX Corporation, ABB Limited, Baker Hughes, Caspian Pipe Coatings, Dentons Europe AARPI, HUAWEI, Lamor Corporation, McDermott, Nobel Upstream, SOCAR AQS, Tenaris Connections B.V., Total E&P Absheron, Zenith Aran Oil Company LTD, Prior Leasing, Matanat A, AIMC, Holcim Azerbaijan, Mitto, the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism, Baku Convention Center, International Bank of Azerbaijan, Shokki Mokki, Halliburton, ACE Group Consultants, British School in Baku, Green Light Autism Center, лечебно-диагностический центр «Shafa», Art Trio, Credo, CityTaxi, CTS Translation, Caspian Energy International Media Group. The partners of the exhibitions in 2019 were Baku Expo Center, Caspian Freight Services, the tour operator Greenwich Travel Club, Qafqaz Hotels and Resorts, Intourist Hotel and Boulevard Hotel Baku. Child Zone partner was "Bagcam" Network of Kindergartens.
The 2019 exhibition year can rightfully be called the year of “Exhibitions +”, as the organisers planned and carried out 45 additional events. Within each exhibition, a Presentation Zone was created specifically to demonstrate new products and services. One such event is B2B business meetings, which has already become a tradition at the exhibitions. In 2019, more than 300 companies participated in B2B meetings and held 848 international meetings.
The new brand in the CEO’s portfolio, “Bizimkiler”, immediately became popular, and in 2019 a session of the “Bizimkiler” event was held not only at Bakutel, but also at the COG and Medinex exhibitions. The performance of our compatriots who have gained experience abroad invariably aroused interest among visitors to exhibitions.
Within the framework of the exhibitions, new formats and events appeared for the first time, providing additional opportunities for networking: the Chef Championship “Chef’s Cup” was held with the organizational support of the Development of Tourism and National Cuisine Public Union and the website chefs.az; “Trans-Caspian International Transport Route” conference, the “Corporate Social Responsibility - The Green Wave” session, discussion with well-known futurologist from Slovenia, Blaz Golab on topic “Energy-efficient and Smart Cities: Main Drivers and the Role of the Energy Sector in their Development”, “From Waste to Art” exhibition, “Women in Power” session, meeting with the famous children’s writer I.M. Shevchuk, who is one of the authors of the “Smeshariki” project and the author of the script for several episodes of the Fixies project, a panel discussion of Promo Talks, business dialogue with the participation of a special guest of Bakutel - Editorial Director of “Forbes Russia” magazine Nikolai Uskov and director of long-term exhibition partner – “1news” News Agency Rakhman Hajiyev and other events.
Before the start of almost every exhibition the organisers gathered the participants at business breakfasts, which helped the exhibitors get to know each other, get to know the organisers better, and most importantly increase the effectiveness of their participation due to the knowledge and opportunities that they received. Until 2019, the organisers invited specialists from abroad for this type of training, and now companies have grown local specialists who share their experience with local participants.
Also, company representatives gathered together at the exhibitions anniversary events, WorldFood Azerbaijan, Bakubuild and Caspian Ecology. The exhibitors planted pomegranate and almond trees in the Central Botanical Garden, installed birdhouses and bird feeders there, and planted cypress trees on the area of Lake Beyukshor, near the Olympic Stadium.
At the Caspian Oil and Gas and Bakutel exhibitions, a special mobile application worked, which allowed participants to be “paperless”, that is, to do without printed documents. In turn, visitors to the exhibitions, having downloaded the application, could be at the “hands free” exhibition, since all the information was already on their phone. Convenient and easy navigation of the application allowed visitors to quickly find the necessary information. In addition, both participants and visitors using push notifications quickly received information about the start of events according to the program of the exhibition and conference. Visitors could make appointments on their own with exhibitors, and also by scanning the QR code, send all the information and contacts of the company they were interested in to their email. Also, an interactive exhibition plan was established at the exhibitions, allowing visitors to lay out an individual route, send the plan to an email, and much more.
The organisers continue the “Save the Nature” campaign, according to which all used paper products from the office are returned for recycling and their reuse. The organisers also refused to use plastic badges and bags at exhibitions, replacing them with paper and bags of recycled paper. A new step will be to reduce the use of banners for advertising purposes, and instead use prints on fabrics. Excess food ordered for exhibition gala dinners will be sent to people in need, and it is also planned to transfer all food waste to animal shelters.
Currently, preparations are underway for the new exhibition season, which will be full of interesting events. In 2020, exhibition operators CEO and Iteca Caspian will conduct 24 projects. The season will open on February 15 with Ferqli Ferdlər: the 2nd Congress for Kids with Special Needs, which will focus on the topic of ASDs, an autism spectrum disorder, and bring together parents of children with special needs, and specialists, teachers, methodologists, psychologists and psychotherapists.
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