Expo 2011: Last minute preparations spoil the party

With July already past the half way mark, I guess it’s not too early to write something concerning the annual Rwanda International Trade Fair.  Branded as Expo 2011 and always held at the Expo grounds in Gikondo, the trade fair is scheduled to run from July 28 to August 10.
Allan Brian Ssenyonga
Allan Brian Ssenyonga

With July already past the half way mark, I guess it’s not too early to write something concerning the annual Rwanda International Trade Fair.

Branded as Expo 2011 and always held at the Expo grounds in Gikondo, the trade fair is scheduled to run from July 28 to August 10.

Organised by the Private Sector Federation (PSF), this event has been growing each year with more local and international exhibitors turning up for the event. It is actually not too harsh to say that the grounds seem smaller each year.

Since it is a government policy to attract investors to the country, the Expo is a must attend for anyone with a business worth its name. This is because it offers businesses a chance to showcase their products or services. They also get to clarify any issues that potential customers need clarification on.

However, after attending this event a couple of times, I have come to notice a persistently annoying trend that businesses ought to kick if they are to be taken seriously. Each year, I make an attempt to visit the expo grounds on the first day. 

I have thus come to notice that on the first day some exhibitors’ stalls are still empty. The sight of ongoing electrical and fitting work is no longer that shocking. In the parking yard, you are bound to find foreign registered trucks still offloading stuff that ought to have been on display already.

Interestingly some big (local) corporate companies that I will not mention here also fall prey to this late arrangements syndrome, presenting empty stalls to the people who show up on the first day.

It’s my view that this trend is mere negligence on the part of the companies involved since the days of the expo are announced well in time. I must point out though that this does not happen just in Rwanda. The Ugandan version often held in October has had its cases of unprepared exhibitors on the first day. However that does not mean it is ok to be late. Time as businesspeople want to remind us, is money.

What companies fail to realise is that most people only come to the expo once. And those who come on the first day are usually the people who are clearly interested in getting contacts and information about certain companies. These early birds at the expo prefer the first day to avoid the congestion that is characterised by the latter days of the expo.

The other thing that companies need to know is that the people who often visit in the last days are more interested in the party side of the expo and not the business side. They are there to meet friends, drink and dance to some music.

Not being ready on the first day is sheer laziness and a downright case of despising your clients and expo visitors in general. It means you are assuming that no one ‘serious’ will show up on the first day and therefore there is no need to be ready. This to me is a gross miscalculation.

A serious businessperson or company ought to be ready from day one, to offer visitors to the expo a meaningful business experience that can win their loyalty. Not being ready on day one is a bad start indeed.

ssenyonga@gmail.com

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