Post Covid Trade Shows: Now What?
The COVID-19 pandemic did a number on the way businesses and marketing were done in the corporate world. In-person events were traded in for virtual meetings. Giveaways and demonstrations that required social interaction and touching of objects were eliminated from the calendar altogether.
This meant that trade shows and exhibitions were put on a hard pause throughout 2020 and the beginning of 2021. Now, the increasing numbers of people are getting vaccinated, and many states are loosening their social distancing and capacity restrictions. Folks are back to planning for the physical showroom floor, and we can get back to sharing our ideas and thoughts with the world in a face-to-face format.
That doesn’t mean everything is back to how it was before, though.
Safety is still of the utmost priority for everyone that engages in contact with others, and trade shows must take extra precautions that weren’t protocol in the past.
Let’s look at some of the ways companies can manage the new normal while still succeeding when they exhibit their products.
Increase the Space of the Booth
As has been already mentioned ad nauseum for the last two years, social distancing is one of the keys to preventing the contraction of the coronavirus, whether you are vaccinated, wearing a mask, or washing your hands.
How can you do a trade show that requires and encourages hundreds of people to gather in an enclosed building and still expect positive and healthy reactions to the event? There are no easy answers to this question. The solutions require a compromise on behalf of everyone at the show, whether the businesses or the potential customers attending.
You may not be able to book an event that already has reached the new capacity standards of the trade show, even if it is an event that you have been attending for years. Find new trade show venues capable of involving wider booths and include larger capacities in total so that everyone feels they can show their products without compromising the quality.
For generations, giveaways have been a hallmark of trade shows, but many people may be leery to take an item that strangers have touched. Perhaps you can raffle off an object or a sample that will be mailed to you. Engage the audience in ways familiar to you and them and make them understand that they can’t expect the same experience as before the pandemic.
Involve Your Virtual Tech from the Pandemic
Who says that virtual technology and Zoom meetings have to stop just because the pandemic has become laxer? Involving the same techniques revolutionized during the pandemic will allow for a hybrid approach that may surprise both you and the consumers attending.
Virtual calls allow people worldwide to view your trade show booth, or even present at the booth, without worrying about the capacity stuff that we talked about in the previous paragraphs.
Demonstrate on video what your products do, and if you can’t do that with your specific item (like food), then you can give a recipe or a location for a store where you can buy the product from outside of the trade show. The event is just to show off not sell on the spot.
Did the Coronavirus Ruin Trade Shows Forever?
The pandemic led many of us to believe that the era of trade show presentations was over forever. After all, you are jamming larger groups of people into a single room, and folks from all over the country are attending and bringing their germs into the space around them and your booth.
Trade shows also involve audience interaction with the demonstrations and touching objects that aren’t yours now has been a frightening prospect. Fortunately, if you use hand sanitizer and clean all your props before, during, and after the trade show, there should be much less concern about passing along the virus to your fellow attendees or employees.
The pandemic did not ruin the trade show industry forever. In fact, it encouraged an event that had been stuck in the mud to reevaluate what makes the shows work and run. It forced businesses to get more creative, create better social media campaigns that accompany said events, and it asked customers to get involved in new ways.
The (Trade) Show Must Go On!
Like every other live event spectacle in the United States and around the world, the pandemic signified the dawn of a new age of doing business. The show continues like a sporting event or a concert that now requires vaccine status updates and masks. Safety comes first, but humans always find a way to persevere, and nobody does that better than those in the business sphere!