More than half a century of success in exhibition industry

№ 4, 2023

On December 27, National Exhibition Center "BelExpo" is celebrating its 55th anniversary. In anticipation, Sergey Baran, Director of BelExpo, told us about the company's future plans, as well as about the strengths and advantages of exhibitions compared to other marketing communication means, the place of exhibition activities in Belarus today and the features that make business forums an indispensable tool for the promotion of goods and services.


Sergey Alexandrovich, the years of BelExpo's activity are marked by the formation of a strong foundation focused on development and achieving results. What are the landmarks and supporting points that ensure the company's stability in a constantly changing world?

Based on the best global experience in organizing international exhibitions, Belarus initiated the systematic development of a new national economy sector – exhibition activities – fifty-five years ago, which became inseparable from solving the most important national tasks of the country. An effective tool was created to support and develop the economy. The exhibition program was organically linked to the top-priority demands of the national market and the tasks of foreign economic strategy. These main principles remain unchanged in the activities of the State Enterprise "BelExpo". We learn, employ the best global practices. Feedback is important to us, therefore we analyze all events and draw conclusions.

It is worth noting that each exhibition in the BelExpo portfolio is prepared in close cooperation with the supervising ministry and agency. It is important for us to create comfortable conditions for exhibitors, and to do this, we need to understand what a specific industry sector lives on and what topics are relevant and most acute for it.

Exhibition activities have remained an important tool for promoting businesses and their products in the market both in a specific country and worldwide for 55 years. Expositions contribute to maintaining partnerships and obtaining information about modern trends in a particular industry sector.

However, Belarusian exhibiton industry players had to forget about the classic format of their events for a while. It was during this challenging period that I took over BelExpo in 2020. It was a time of global changes in the world: the coronavirus pandemic, the Eastern market restriction, aggressive and unfriendly policies of Western countries, and disrupted logistics. All of this became a real test of strength for the Belarusian events industry, which became hostage to circumstances.

Despite the difficult period, the discipline, well-coordinated work and mutual understanding within our team of 40 professionals enabled us to successfully cope with the challenges. United by the common goal of developing the exhibition industry for the benefit of the country's economy, we confidently take on new tasks for the prosperous future.

"Staff shortage" is a very relevant topic for the exhibition industry. However, BelExpo is a close-knit team of professionals. How did you manage to achieve such a result?

Indeed, recruitment in our industry is a complex issue. The BelExpo team was not formed immediately, but quite naturally. The ones who are not ready to do more and feel like a tiny cog in a giant machine, on which nothing depends, would not get accustomed here. The event industry never forgives indifference. And surely, at BelExpo we offer a wide motivation system and great prospects for professional growth.

Since 2021, BelExpo has been a member of the Russian Union of Exhibitions and Fairs (RUEF) – a professional community that unites leading players in the congress and exhibition services market not only in Russia but also in other countries. What do you see as the main advantage of such consolidation, and how does it contribute to the development of your company and congress and exhibition activities in Belarus in general?

Our status of an enterprise of the General Affairs Directorate of the President of the Republic of Belarus determines the level of responsibility both for our clients – the participants of our own exhibitions, and for the companies participating in the events organized by other operators, especially by foreign ones. The quality of a business event organization directly affects the impression of the country.

We primarily use our membership in RUEF as a basis for skills development, professional communication, the research of real cases from congress and exhibition activities professionals to improve the quality of our own events. Consequently, it will bring industry development, the increased level of congress and exhibition activities in Belarus as a result.

By the way, BelExpo has received an opportunity to strengthen and promote the company's reputation within the CIS and have a direct dialogue with potential customers-organizers.

This is especially important for us in view of the plans to commission the Minsk International Exhibition Center in 2025.

Today the State Enterprise "BelExpo" is one of the most important tools of the trade, investment and industrial policy of the Republic of Belarus. It is a system segment of the national economy that promotes key industries.


What are the most popular and visited exhibitions held by BelExpo?

The BelExpo exhibition calendar focuses on diversity and covers almost all economy areas. After all, the main function of professional exhibitions is to become a trading platform for industry professionals, to foster business development, help track new trends, pick up fresh ideas and expand the client audience. Exhibitions provide platform to adopt the best global achievements and technologies, find new partners and effective business development solutions. In other words, exhibitions help national producers get answers to the most important questions of our time: what to do and, most importantly,
how to do it!

Over its 55-year history, BelExpo has established tens of thousands of partnerships. Thousands of people enjoy visiting flagship exhibitions, and I am sure that this is not the limit.

To make an example, the MILEX International Exhibition of Weaponry and Military Equipment is always in the spotlight of both business partners and visitors. The high level of this exhibition organization allows for large-scale business programs on national security and defense issues, covering the topics of the innovative and foreign economic policies of the state.

For about 30 years BelExpo has been organizing the PRODEXPO exhibition. This exhibition demonstrates advanced food production technologies, promotes new trade marks, fills the national food market with quality products, and facilitates international cooperation and exchange of experience among leading manufacturers. Traditionally, the exposition is complemented by an eventful business program, addressing the acute issues and prospects for the food market development. Besides, negotiations between retailers, suppliers and manufacturers take place, and tasting contests and master classes from world-renowned chefs are held.

By the way, in 2022, following the audit process, the PRODEXPO exhibition was awarded the Russian Union of Exhibitions and Fairs sign at the RUEF Reporting and Election General Meeting in St. Petersburg. This award is another confirmation of the professional level of the event and its special significance for the region's economy and foreign economic ties expansion. I'd like to note that BelExpo was the first organizer in Belarus to officially confirm the high quality of its event and the professionalism of its team. We have a number of other projects to be audited. And we would see it a good sign if other exhibition operators in Belarus were to follow the example.


It is worth noting that about 60 various-scale international exhibitions (from dozens to hundreds of exhibitors) are held annually in the Republic, as well as a number of regional exhibitions and fairs. The modern market not only requires constant marketing analysis of existing projects for their relevance, but also demands the development of new exhibition concepts with the needs of the Belarusian economy and the global economic and foreign policy situation in mind.

We are constantly engaged in this analysis. Some projects lose their relevance and are replaced by new ones. For example, in 2022, we had two premiere exhibitions: the International Security Industry Exhibition "National Security. Belarus" and the International Specialized Exhibition of Housing and Communal Services "OUR HOME". There are plans for new projects for 2024, but we'd better keep the intrigue for now.


What professional resources does BelExpo have and what contributes to its maintaining a strong competitive position in the exhibition industry?

First and foremost, we have a highly skilled team, as the exhibition industry is a very complex type of activity that requires a professional approach. Our enterprise researches trends and creates the concept of the event, positioning and representing it in the market. We fill, sell and organize all processes ourselves. Our employees analyze information and make the best use of it, they think systemically and quickly adapt to non-standard situations. The effective solution of such tasks allows the exhibitions we hold to make a contribution to improving certain market processes, as exhibition activities, being a marketing communication tool, help to attract foreign investment and implement perspective projects on ecomony improvement.

Exhibitions strengthen economic ties between countries, contribute to the search for the ways to optimize production processes and their further implementation. Besides, the events ensure a positive brand or company perception and increase reputation capital. Accelerated technological development, primarily in information and communication means, leads to the growing importance of exhibition projects, which become effective innovation drivers, ensure market mobility, create the necessary information field and form financial flows.

What are BelExpo's plans for 2024?

We have nine own exhibition projects planned for 2024, including seven major industry events. We plan to launch new interesting projects and prepare for moving to our own building. We feel optimistic and confident about the future because our events work for the benefit of the Republic of Belarus.