Ralph Chow, regional director of Americas for the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) talks about how the trade organization is adjusting with the lack of in-person events in the Toy Book’s annual State of the Industry Q&A.
The Toy Book: With major toy fair shifts due to the pandemic, how has HKTDC pivoted to connect buyers and manufacturers globally?
Ralph Chow: In the face of the pandemic, it is anticipated that global sourcing behavior will become increasingly digital and that future trade fairs will be a combination of physical and virtual formats. Several of the HKTDC’s physical fairs have been migrated online since the onset of the pandemic, with a brand-new, artificial-intelligence-driven, business-matching platform, Click2Match, helping to bring buyers and exhibitors together.
The HKTDC Autumn Sourcing Week | ONLINE (ASWO) exhibition, featuring the Click2Match business-matching platform, drew to a successful close in November 2020. The online exhibition featured more than 2,600 exhibitors and attracted more than 27,000 buyers from 132 countries and regions. In addition to organizing online exhibitions, the HKTDC also launched a year-round business promotion through its hktdc.com sourcing platform to connect manufacturers with global buyers.
TB: What are HKTDC’s key initiatives for the year ahead?
RC: In addition to enhancing its hybrid model that combines online fairs with physical fairs and symposiums, the HKTDC will also organize new local exhibitions and hold a number of its key international conferences and webinars online.
Exhibitions are a vital component of the business of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), helping to secure an average of 40% of orders for such companies. The fact that it will still be difficult to stage local trade shows in a physical form in the first half of 2021 will have a significant impact on SMEs. The HKTDC is reacting to this new situation in a flexible way, launching a brand-new sourcing event, the HKTDC International Sourcing Show, that will consolidate seven HKTDC trade fairs (including HKTDC Hong Kong Toys & Games Fair and Hong Kong Baby Product Fair) originally scheduled to be held in spring. The new event will run from March-July 2021 and will be held in online and physical formats, exploring business opportunities across a range of industries. The online-to-offline (O2O) format of the International Sourcing Show will help buyers and sellers alike be better prepared for the “new normal” business environment in the wake of the pandemic.
Hong Kong businesses still have to contend with weakened global demand, disrupted supply chains, and elevated protectionism, business operations are expected to begin to revert to a more normal level when the COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, allowing the world economy to stabilize and rebound.
This State of the Industry Q&A response was originally published in the February 2021 edition of the Toy Book. Click here to read the full issue!