2020 is finally behind us! Hoooray!
We’re all excited here and feeling optimistic that a restart for live events is not far off! Likely it will trickle in in the first 2 quarters of the year, but judging on the show schedule for fall, we could be back in full swing by September.
It’s likely going take a little time to get your head back in the game to figure out what needs to change to exhibit better post Covid-19. Now might be a really good time to start planning so that you’re securing the best booth spaces, changing up your booth, updating your graphic messaging and getting everything lined up to pull the trigger at the last possible moment. Below are a few suggestions to help you get your strategic juices flowing!
Planning Tips for 2021 trade shows:
If you’re planning to exhibit this year, then, by all means, stand out with confidence! There will be plenty of exhibitors that go nervously testing the waters. Their reluctance will have an effect on the quality of experience they have. With some planning and preparation, you will show up with a safely sanitized booth and welcome attendees with confidence. We recently installed a rental project at a post-Covid-19 trade show in Orlando and I’m not going lie – we were nervous too – so we have some insights to share.
Post-Covid Trade Shows – A few weeks ago we installed one of our rental booths in the Surf Expo Jan 6-9. To our pleasant surprise, everyone was super positive and clearly working together to have a successful show. It was great to be back on the show floor. Move-in was smooth, install was well organized, and show management was hyper-focused on being super helpful. The show did a great job with temperature checks and signage promoting masks and hand sanitizing. We did see a few companies with plex sneeze guards on their reception counters, but they were rare. We saw very few providing hands sanitizing gel in their booth space, which we found odd and touchless dispensers are an easy addition and they put you and your visitors at ease.
Sanitizing Gel speaks volumes – Touchless sanitizing gel dispensers are easy low-cost items to include for every booth, now and into the future. We can even add coloring dye to the gel to compliment your corporate colors. Get creative and have fun with this as it tells attendees your booth is safe to enter! Even if you forget and shake hands with an old friend, no big deal, just take a squirt of gel and keep talking.
Personal Space – Strategize how your attendees will enter your booth and engage your staff while maintaining some personal distance. For example, a long reception counter works great to keep a distance between you and your attendees. Consider moving the counter inside your booth a few feet to allow the attendee to step off the aisle. We’ve also realized that lounge meeting sets are better than tables and chairs for maintaining space. With lounge seating, people tend to sit back which puts them at a greater distance from each other. Lastly, think of ways to let fewer people do more. Rethink bringing the entire team to man a 10×20 booth space, or at least establish a rotation so your booth maintains space for attendees.
Literature Alternatives – Consider the use of printed QR codes to instantly give visitors a link to the literature they can email to themselves. These can easily be printed and applied to walls, counters, display cases, and pedestals. QC codes were fun when they came out but now they have real potential to save trees and minimize the spread of germs. If you are not ready to give up on literature, you could consider adding a QR code to again show that your responsive for forward-thinking.
Registration Tips – Post-Covid trade shows will have more steps to gain entry for you, your team, and support staff. Temperature checks are an easy way for the show to weed out people fighting off active infections. Understandably, you don’t want to be the one person turned away at the show entrance. Plan to check temperatures yourself. Touchless temp readers are cheap so why not have one your team can use to check themselves often, before driving to the airport, or leaving the hotel room, or going out for the evening. These checks are easy peace of mind. I can honestly say I was nervous about my temp check at Surf Expo.
Also, new rules will require your EAC partners to have exhibitor badges to gain access during the event. OUR EAC badges won’t be enough so plan for this when your registering. Surf Expo had an online form to register your EAC so they would have special EAC access badges. Just keep in mind that it will be harder for your EAC partner to get onto the show floor during the show with only their EAC badges.
Convention Center Changes – Lockdowns provided opportunities for construction projects across the country. You may be surprised to see big changes in familiar trade show venues. The biggest one to watch for is the new west hall expansion at LVCC here in Las Vegas. Not only is the building huge, and beautiful, but the way you shuttle from the new portion to the older portion is in futuristic self-driving Tesla cars in an underground tunnel.
As you know, show planning start at least 6 months before the show dates. For summer shows we should start planning right away. For fall shows March/April would be a good time to start planning. Really we can start planning your booth anytime after you’ve reserved booth space. The more time we have, the more ways we can explore how to exhibit better post-Covid-19.
There’s no obligation when you preplan; we can work thru the booth design and set aside ready for you to pull the trigger last minute. While we plan, we can study the show floor, and the neighbors, and identify the traffic flow of attendees before we dial in your booth design. We can take a look at your messaging to best represent your brand and products in 2021.
There’s an opportunity to stand out fresh and strong on the show floor. The Covid-19 pandemic has helped us look inward to focus on what’s important. A new generation of entrepreneurs is also helping us all be more authentic, approachable, and efficient and this will have an effect on the trade show landscape. In the past, over-the-top corporate-looking booths were ideal. Going forward, more companies will simply want more approachable booth designs that are warm and inviting.
We’ve always worked to deliver more booths for less money, but now we are also focusing on delivering approachable authentic booths for less money, and we’re excited about how this can transform the trade show experience. We’ve developed 25 new design ideas with approachable authenticity in mind, and they are easy to browse on our website. We invite you to take a look.
We’re here ready to work. We’ve had no shortage and cool things to work on and improve over the past year and we’re excited to help you make a big impact at your first post covid-19 trade show.
Looking forward to working with you again and seeing you on the show floor as soon as possible.