As a result of COVID-19, the way we all operate in the planning and production of trade shows and conferences will be different than in the past, requiring GES and our clients to navigate the “new normal”. The path forward will require us to shift our collective thinking, test new processes and adopt novel approaches for the execution of events.
In the spirit of developing our best thinking, ideas and recommendations to better serve our clients, GES recently hosted a few informal roundtables with clients who wanted to discuss recent events with their peers. These sessions were intended to be highly collaborative, focused on sharing concerns and seeking our clients’ feedback about how best to plan and produce a show during and post COVID-19. They were so well-received as an opportunity to both listen and learn from industry leaders, we plan to continue hosting these informative roundtables on a regular basis.
Four common concerns raised by our clients across both sessions include:
- The key focus needs to be planning for the safety of our attendees and providing them peace of mind, by incorporating elements around hygiene, social distancing, crowd control, and minimizing lines whenever possible
- While continuing to plan for a face-to-face event, many clients are also looking at virtual options. The desired goal is to produce a successful hybrid event for those who will not be able to attend our event in person
- The need for clear and consistent guidelines and protocols for live B2B events from state and local governments around planning and execution. Will our elected officials accept the proposed event production plans and modifications created by our industry?
- Many clients are selecting a date (within the next 30-45 days) for making a go/no-go decision for their live event. This will drive communication plans to attendees and exhibitors and marketing efforts to promote the event
In addition, GES shared some initial concepts and facilitated a discussion around rethinking registration and the design of exhibit halls and entry areas. Contactless registration was mentioned a number of times, including mailing event badges in advance, and encouraging attendees to use smartphone apps or provided QR codes to print badges at on-site stations. As it relates to exhibit hall configurations, several clients mentioned their smallest booth size for exhibitors will be 10x20 versus the usual 10x10, to create greater space between exhibits.
These roundtable sessions really confirmed one of the great strengths of our industry – everyone’s willingness to collaborate and freely share ideas. In fact, a number of our clients suggested we continue holding these roundtable sessions on a regular basis and stated they would like to stay involved. By doing so, together we will take deliberate action to reimagine and reinvent the planning and production of safe and successful events later in the next few months and beyond.
We look forward to sharing the ideas and procedures from these roundtable sessions with you in the future in different formats including webinars, blogs and more. If you would like to be included in upcoming roundtable sessions, please reach out to your GES representative.