As of this writing many Owners, Organizers and Producers of Tradeshows are making tough decisions about upcoming events in the first quarter of 2021:
· Do we go forward?
· Do we have to make changes in order to go forward?
· Do we lose irreplaceable revenue if we don’t go forward?
· Do we lose good will, exhibitor and/or attendee loyalty if we go forward?
· Do we lose good will, exhibitor and/or attendee loyalty if we don’t go forward?
People crave connection. Business is hurt when product sampling or exposure is diminished. Relationships languish when not fed by personal interactions. Everyone wants to be safe and most want to be respectful of others’ concerns. One solution towards moving forward with tradeshows can be gleaned from the world of sports.
When professional sports leagues establish strict guidelines, monitor and enforce rules, and most importantly isolate participants in a dedicated Bubble-like location, precautions work, competition commences, revenues are generated, faith in a collective effort achieving its goal is realized.
Conversely, when participants flaunt or ignore personal responsibility it can ban them from participation and penalize their team. When the ‘players’ have to constantly travel to multiple locations to compete, their exposure is increased. When personal freedoms are put ahead of the collective good you wind up with pandemic spread instead of safe bubbles.
The NHL, the NBA and Major League Soccer have been successful in allowing thousands of athletes and hundreds of teams to safely compete.
Like sports, business is often a competition. In some ways a tradeshow expo floor is the ultimate arena. So here are some Bubble-like considerations for gladiators of commerce to more safely compete despite the Covid threat:
1- All who benefit from a successful tradeshow must share in the sacrifice to also make it safe.
Venues may need to extend lease dates as spreading out may mean not only more space but more time
Convention hotels and show organizers many need to adjust fees to recognize for what would otherwise be increased expense to exhibitors and attendees
Exhibitors may need to agree to more restrictive booth regulations
Attendees will experience different registration procedures and more rigid guidelines dictating their presence on the show floor as well as in breakouts, keynotes and meals
All involved in the collective enterprise, including show staff and (yes, even) union labor would have pre-event restrictive isolation requirements as well as testing and monitoring obligations
2 – Certain standard Covid-19 Safety rules and guidelines we’ve become accustomed to would be rigorously enforced inside the tradeshow bubble.
Masks would be required throughout all show related activities
Whether through Thermal scanning at entranceways or simple temperature taking by the badge checkers when you enter a hall, or more advanced tracking there would be a proactive defense against allowing anyone sick to circulate.
Aisles are wider, booths are bigger so people can safely spread out. Traffic flow is directed to lessen congestion.
In-booth guidelines now limit enclosed spaces, reflect mandatory booth staffer Covid training, and mandate exhibit floorplan reviews in advance to address clutter.
Universal expectations and apologies are shared in advance as there should be fewer hugs and handshakes, less hands-to-hand passing of samples and more cleaning of demo items and meeting areas
3 – Ultimately the Bubble would be challenged by the conflict of Personal Responsibility vs. personal freedom.
Can a company tell its hard-working booth staffers that they can’t go out to bars or restaurants in the evening?
Would attendees walking a show and attending numerous breakouts be willing to forego making the most of exciting convention cities?
Well, the vast majority of pro athletes that agreed to Bubble Competition terms lived by the rules. Their teams and collective leagues (industries) benefit. The hotels they stayed in and arenas they played in benefit.
It may be tough, but its sure better than hanging in limbo on the sidelines!
Next time: Exhibitors and the Bubble