Addressing the pain points

EW spoke to Alan Pryor, general manager Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, about the bounce back of exhibitions at the KLCC

Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC) is reporting 47 shows this year to date, albeit in smaller sizes compared to pre-pandemic times. “There is still concern among exhibitors as borders remain closed in certain markets and recent Covid-19 variant flare-ups, affecting total number of exhibitors and visitors,” says general manager Alan Pryor.

Pryor says the exhibitions segment looks positive for 2023, however, with a mix of postponed and recurrent shows set almost back-to-back from February to November. “Currently, we have 35 trade fairs confirmed,” he says.

“Overall, we are seeing enthusiasm and keenness for the return of in-person exhibitions and there has also been a lot of movement in the international arena, especially around large-scale expos – which are all positive for the continued growth of exhibitions and for the Malaysian market.”

Pryor says the primary strategy now is to be flexible in addressing organisers’ pain points, especially around required space, preferred dates, rates, suppliers and policies.

“We are also working with international and domestic organisers to bring in new shows that are relevant to Malaysia, that have been successfully running in other destinations,” he adds.

In terms of investments planned at the venue, Pryor says they are working to implement some pre-planned refurbishment of the centre, which was halted due to pandemic challenges and that will be implemented in stages. The refurbishment plans will include all meeting spaces, seating, food and beverage equipment, tools and outlets at KLCC, as well as all furniture, décor and carpets.

Of this year’s exhibitions at the centre, 45%, or 21 events, are international shows with most of them being recurrent. A new exhibition welcomed this year and held for the first time in Malaysia, was the International Café and Beverage 2022 which attracted about 5,000 visitors, 19-21 May.

Pryor adds that more shows are being done in the 'confex' model (a combination of conference and exhibition) and in a scaled-down manner – about 50 stands for exhibitions and 200pax for conferences.

“There is high interest in organisers to bring international exhibitions to Malaysia due to our experienced and matured supply chain, affordability, English-speaking industry and having excellent air connectivity to the rest of the world.”

“As the sector is becoming an increasingly competitive field with surrounding regional destinations offering compelling incentives to attract new shows into their country, Malaysia’s exhibition market and players need to reinvent our destination proposition and positioning in order to stand out among our competitors to win more international trade shows.”