The COVID-19 pandemic caused a significant shift in the way businesses and attendees approach trade shows and exhibitions. These changes have had and will continue to have both short-term and long-term consequences. While 2020 was a frustrating and challenging year for the industry, there are great opportunities to move forward.
COVID-19 CHANGES IN TRADE SHOW DISPLAYS IN LAS VEGAS
If you are exhibiting in Las Vegas, what changes can you expect from the booths as you walk the trade show floor? These are some examples
If you are exhibiting in Las Vegas, you should limit the number of visitors allowed to an exhibit booth at any given time, just as they do in other areas of the event. These limits are based upon industry occupancy guidelines provided by the International Association of Exhibitions and Events and the Society of Independent Show Organizers (SISO).
They presumably also include exhibitors and attendees combined. Divide the total booth square footage by 28 to calculate the maximum occupancy. This formula allows for approximately three people per 100 sq. feet of booth space. A 10×10 booth can hold three people, and a booth that is 20×20 can hold fourteen.
More hand sanitizer
It is recommended to all exhibitors to provide hand sanitizer at trade show displays in Las Vegas.
Anyone who cannot maintain a distance between themselves and others (such as booth staffers working side by side) must wear a mask.
Cleaning shared items
It is required booth staff to clean all items in their booths after they’ve been handled. This includes pens, samples, brochures, and computer mouse.
Giveaways are not available in bowls
It is not allowed to attendees to pick up candy, stress balls, or brochures from piles. Instead, all giveaways must be given individually by staff members at booths wearing gloves, shields, or behind barriers.
No eating or drinking
2019 is the year of the drink and appetizer carts. Now exhibitors are prohibited from serving food or beverages to visitors. Exhibitors and attendees may not eat at booths. Exhibit staff may only consume “personal beverages,” presumably from their bottles.
NEW NORMAL FOR EXHIBITORS
The world will resume the in-person gatherings, but with a new look and feel. These are the four significant changes that COVID will bring to the exhibition and trade show industry in 2021 and beyond. We also discuss how savvy marketers can use these changes to enhance their efforts.
All things moved virtual, and they will always remain hybrid
Many events were moved to virtual venues to avoid the inconvenience of having to meet in person during the pandemic. The results varied for different groups. The idea of offering a hybrid event that combines online and in-person elements will be popular in the coming year.
Many people are reluctant to travel and return to normal even with the vaccine. Some convention centers such as New York’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center have installed broadcasting centers to make this possible. These facilities are state-of-the-art, so remote attendees can have as good an experience as those who attend in person.
The attention of marketers shifted to regional events
Numerous companies and organizations hosted large-scale sales meetings or exhibitions at a destination. The location was used as a draw-card for attendees. We’ve noticed a rise in interest in regional events, rather than one national event, as travel is likely to decrease over the next few years.
A series of regional events can appeal to a broader audience. Some people might not travel by plane and are open to driving to another region to take part. Other attendees can also join the virtual event. Large and small businesses alike will embrace the idea of meeting audiences closer to their homes. This will create a new resonance.
Technology has replaced the traditional face-to-face elements
People will value connections in a post-COVID society. It is unlikely that trade shows and corporate events will ever return to pre-pandemic levels of normality, given the social distancing mandates. Instead, organizers will look to use technology where it makes sense. This includes contactless registration and even how meals are delivered and served.
Technology is more important than ever when it comes to networking. Technology can help attendees identify people with similar interests and facilitate breakouts and networking sessions. Exhibitors can also use the technology to enhance exhibits. It allows vendors to have fewer in-person interactions with attendees and still deliver meaningful experiences.
Content is king and must shine
2020 was a year that made our lives more hectic than we could have ever imagined. The employees split their time between family and professional obligations, which meant that there was a massive time crunch even if they were at home. We became tired of the idea that we would meet to discuss everything and prioritize relevance. Instead, we acted as an event producer, removing the unimportant and highlighting what was necessary.
As a result, attendees will be more attentive to the event and expect them to provide value for their professional lives. This means that marketers must prioritize the event’s purpose and quality and find ways to deliver content on an ongoing basis. Over the last few decades, events, exhibitions, and conferences have seen tremendous growth. We can look at the COVID-era transition as an opportunity and not a setback, and we might be able to use the next phase to our advantage.
Once COVID-19 is passed and trade shows return to action, there will be many changes. These changes will have a significant impact on trade shows, so make sure your staffs are up-to-date with the latest social expectations. Consider the role of your booth space in creating a safe environment for people. Exponents looks forward to returning to a sense of normalcy, and we look forward to helping you to succeed at your next trade show!