Exhibitions eye greener, digitalized future

As the exhibition economy enters a new development stage, expos in China are marching in a more digital and greener direction, industry experts said.

Ten years ago, enterprises relied mainly on offline exhibitions to demonstrate their products and services and win orders. It was the exception that enterprises could land orders online without a single handshake. Now, with the help of digital technologies, enterprises showcase their products and services online, and make instant adjustments to their products and services according to customer demand. Countless such online transactions have since been made and are now becoming de rigueur across the industry.

Wu Yanfang, co-secretary-general of China Mobile Communications Association Metaverse Consensus Circle, said: "With technological advancements, artificial intelligence is now empowering the exhibition industry in many aspects. Expos use AI to verify user photos, discover corresponding audiences on various platforms and use big data to distribute relevant content accurately in several ways. During the exhibition process, AI-enabled robots learn about the whole exhibition situation, and are able to offer guidance and services to visitors."

In addition, Wu added: "When visitors are at exhibitions, they can consult with AI-enabled robots. Visitors don't need to search for exhibitors using large arcane overview maps. With the help of AI, robots can have a comprehensive understanding of the exhibition in advance, improving the efficiency and experience of the entire undertaking."

Incomplete statistics from the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade showed that currently, more than 4,000 Chinese exhibitors are applying digital technologies, such as AI, virtual reality and augmented reality, in exhibitions.

Zhang Gang, chairman of Beijing EastFair Technology Co Ltd, said: "In the new digital era, exhibitions undergo tremendous changes, from visitors to audiences to exhibitors, and in ways people interact. Big data obtained during the process of organizing exhibitions and holding such events bring about the changes."

Another trend of exhibitions in China is sustainability. With people's increasing awareness of environmental protection, expos are turning greener. In the exhibition designing process, people are using environmentally friendly materials, including recyclable materials, biodegradable materials and low-polluting materials. The use of these materials can reduce environmental pollution and resource wastage.

Sam Lei, executive member of the Macao Trade and Investment Promotion Institute, said: "Sustainability is the latest trend in the exhibition industry. We are promoting green and carbon neutral expos, and organizing relevant training, to lower energy consumption at such events as much as possible."

Li Qingshuang, deputy head of the CCPIT, said: "Global industrial and supply chains are showing a trend of sustainable and digital transformation. So is the exhibition industry. With concerted efforts in the industry, the expo economy will be greener and smarter."

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