Trade and Public Show Organizers Better Not Wait for Normal to Return: It Won’t
The emotional, economic, and societal destruction caused by the Covid-19 pandemic is, by far, the most serious challenge ever faced by the global exhibition industry. In fact, for the first time in the modern era of trade and public shows, there will be events that are unlikely to reappear. Those in the exhibition industry who believe it will be an uneventful return to business as usual are seriously underestimating the damage that has been created.
Whatever the future holds, one thing is already quite clear — now is the time to carefully create an innovative yet flexible strategic plan that will help guide your event’s return to the show floor. It is a complex marketing challenge unlike anything we’ve had to confront before. We don’t know how attendees and exhibitors might prefer to re-engage with us but that doesn’t mean we can’t begin conducting credible research into their respective thinking now. Quite to the contrary, now is an opportune time to begin the process because few of us are currently engaged in the normal planning and production of our next show. Moreover, our attendees and exhibitors are hungry to learn what may lie ahead for the trade shows that have become so vital to their organization’s business stability and growth.
To help you along the path that leads to the return to live events, we reached out to several industry thought leaders and asked each to share just one suggestion aimed at helping you and your team to get back to the show floor efficiently and safely.
It’s all about communication and preparation. You MUST communicate with the venue/state/city/public health authorities/and, venue regarding current guidelines. Then be prepared for almost everything to change. The pandemic is evolving and so are authority’s responses to the changes. Effective and ongoing communications is the way you can protect yourself when the “fit hits the shan”!
Be sure to recognize, applaud and thank the essential workers who helped keep your business, industry or profession going during the height of the pandemic. It’s important to acknowledge the efforts of those who supported your business, industry, or profession, whether they work directly within your industry or profession or serve it peripherally. Those who put themselves at risk during the pandemic (which unfortunately is not yet over!), need to know their commitment and efforts are truly appreciated by all who benefitted. I recommend you take some time during your next live event to recognize, applaud and thank those who kept our nation’s businesses, industries and professions moving forward.
International ocean freight transportation difficulties impact exhibitions directly. Upcoming disturbances in West Coast ports will add between 30 and 50 days to arrival times. Due to the time-sensitive nature of exhibition cargo from abroad, show organizers should encourage international exhibitors to ship well in advance of the event. Thirty (30) days or more to ensure goods are ready for delivery to the event on the move-in day. Additionally, Show Management, with their general service contractor, may plan to provide low-cost or no-cost storage of international cargo for up to 45 days prior to the event. These proactive measures mean more successful exhibitors and the continued rebound of the exhibition industry.
SMT expo team, hopes these suggestions will be helpful as you and your team stitch together an effective strategic plan to return your event(s) to the show floor. Please also share with us any of your own recommendations so that we can share them with your industry colleagues.