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Visa Being Held And Flights Being Cancelled Because Of The Covid-19. The Exhibit Of Soton At Frankfurt Encounters Dilemma. Breakthroughs Are Made With Efforts, Innovations And Remote Technology

In Jan. 2020, China was stricken by the COVID-19 pandemic. Wuhan city closed. Other cities of the country launched the Grade I Response for magnitude outburst public health incident. The pandemic situation was serious and got numerous Chinese enterprises into dilemma.  

Under the impacts of the COVID-19, SOTON encountered many issues for the Consumables Exhibit at Frankfurt, Germany from Feb. 7 to 11. SOTON was told that it couldn’t head for Germany for the exhibit for the reasons for visa and epidemic prevention for personnel. Even under this situation, SOTON figured it all out. It solved this issue with Big Data Technology and Remote Exhibit Attendance. Given that the exhibits later would be affected by the epidemic, SOTON’s innovation experience this time may bring about some reference to other companies.

The Incident of COVID-19 Leads SOTON’s Team Visa to be Detained

SOTON has been investing nearly RMB 200,000 for this exhibit, arranging 4 personnel to follow up the exhibit and prepared for the samples since Sep. last year

However, because the COVID-19 epidemic broke out during the spring festival, the visa centers of each country suspended their visa-handling business and refused Chinese citizens to enter. On Jan. 23, Shanghai Visa Center notified the German Embassy Visa Center stationed at Shanghai to close business by Feb. 16. The Visa of SOTON was detained.  


Figuring all out to Get the Visa

On Jan. 30, Meng Zhuyan, the principal of the Brand Development Department of SOTON, contacted the Government of Yiwu and the Office of Overseas Chinese Affairs, hoping to get SOTON’s team visa with the efforts of the government and Shanghai Visa Center. However, even with the efforts of the mayor Jia Hongwen and Director Wu Dan from the Office of Overseas Chinese Affairs, it was still told that the Shanghai Visa Center was closed and can’t issue visas. 


On Feb. 3, 4 salespersons as Lou Donglai from the Brand Development Department of SOTON were ready for the journey. They headed for Shanghai Consulate in the morning with luggage. After being told that their visa had already been at Shanghai Visa Center, they headed for Shanghai Visa Center, hoping to obtain an understanding upon consultation and to take a flight to Germany on Feb. 4 after obtaining the visa. However, the results disappointed them.  

Reporting to the Superiors and Figuring All out to Attend the Exhibit

We should not give up like this! After returning to Yiwu from Shanghai, the Brand Development Team of SOTON didn’t give up. They reported the situation to the president Lou Zhongping and the GM Li Erqiao. The SOTON team knows that this exhibit is the most important one ever, and would be quite important for popularizing the innovative products of the company and developing the “second curve”. During this process, the Brand Development Department was greatly supported by the supervisors of the company.

Found the Exhibit Partner and Attended the Exhibit with Big Data Remote Technology

As couldn’t obtain the visa, the SOTON team decided to find a partner in Germany to accomplish this exhibit. But there were only 2 or 3 days left before Feb. 7 when the exhibit started. Finding the team, concluding the contract, and preparing for the exhibit, there was little time left for SOTON for this exhibit.

Finally, the SOTON team found two graduates of the Industrial University of Munich who were starting their own business. Upon consultations, we reached an agreement of cooperation. After confirming the partner, the SOTON team immediately communicated with them for the exhibit arrangement, reception and quotation work, etc., getting the exhibit team in Germany to operate as we require. The exhibit arrangement work was accomplished on Feb.6 and SOTON attended the exhibit successfully on Feb. 7.

We also met with difficulty after attending the exhibit. Our Chinese Pavilion, because of the epidemic, was concerned by our clients, who were unwilling to step into the Chinese pavilion nor communicating with our salespersons. At this time, the SOTON team wrote a Letter of Apology to our clients (introducing the basic information of SOTON, and the reasons why it fails to attend the exhibit itself), and posted a Notification to Clients (telling clients that the salespersons are two students studying in Germany and haven’t returned to China in short term), with which the concerns in our clients were erased.  


There were not so many Chinese exhibit attendants for this exhibit though, many exhibit attendants around the world would come to the SOTON booth for consultation. They showed a strong interest in the various biodegradable products of SOTON.  

To cooperate with the exhibit attendant in Germany and to track the exhibited status, the salespersons of SOTON adjusted their time off work and rest. They worked from 3:00 p.m to 3:00 a.m into the morning, so as to avoid delaying the business for time reasons.

During the exhibit, the exhibit attendants in Germany were responsible for the reception work, and videoing with domestic business personnel over the computer or mobile phone, therefore realizing the three-party communication. After the exhibit work finished each day, the exhibit team in Germany will video with us reporting the exhibited status, communicating, and solving problems that emerged in a timely manner.  

Crises are Opportunities for Reshaping the Market BoundariesSOTON Obtained 300 High-quality Clients  

Even though failing to attend the exhibit itself, SOTON had obtained ideal results. It was known that the 5-day exhibit had got used to getting inquiries from clients, and we had obtained over 300 high-quality clients in this exhibit.

In the opening year for the transformation of SOTON, the Brand Development Department of SOTON initiates to be the pioneer and explored a new path for the company with efforts, which was well illustrated in this exhibit. The praise and affection of our biodegradable tableware from our clients have brought about new hopes. We would like to convey our thanks to the partners in Germany for their assistance, and to our clients for their supports and understanding.

As a matter of fact, this epidemic is not only a challenge to SOTON but also a crisis test for each person and each company. For companies, crises mean innovation and are opportunities for bold creation and reformation. Therefore, if your company couldn’t make it to exhibits, you may follow the steps of SOTON. It may bring about new hopes to you at the same time as epidemic prevention.

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