After a nine month halt on trade show activities globally, we here in North America are ready and willing to pick up where we left off but the fears and concerns about safety continue to haunt us. Until show organizers and meeting attendees feel that a trusted path has been
formed to ensure safety for travel, hotels, restaurants, and meeting venue procedures in North America we will continue to be in a holding pattern. Face to face marketing will not pick up where it left off. Companies who have believed in the power of face to face marketing through trade shows and events have now experimented in virtual alternatives. Be it a Zoom meeting presentation, or a virtual trade show, these new methods of electronic communication will be
woven in with trade show marketing, when it returns. No virtual communication method has the same impact as face to face, in person communication. We all have semi embraced some of the new virtual alternatives as maybe- not so bad. The new normal for trade show marketing strategies will now include a dose of virtual strategies stirred into the marketing mix.
The new Covid19 prevention habits we follow in every day life will continue to be followed at trade shows and events moving forward. The return to face to face communication appears to be in sight, but will not be executed the same as in the past. In the world of trade show marketing, it appears that Asia and Europe are presently embracing Covid safety methods more quickly in their countries and are willing to trust in their plans to continue safely. Trade show events in both Asia and Europe are being conducted, and planned, to resume fully within the next three months. We in the U.S. are moving forward more cautiously with few shows charging forward to resume quickly. Maybe April 2021? Advocates within our industry are doing their best to jump start a safe return, but time will tell when meeting attendees feel safe and confident to leave their nests to fly to a trade show or conference. With all this being said, our community of trade show/event planners and suppliers patiently await the return of trust in the safety of face to face communication at trade show/events. We want nothing more than to get back to apply the creative methods and solutions we have accumulated over the years that have helped our customers to create trusting relationships with their clients and their buyers. This is the value in what we do. Our ability to incorporate new methods into our suggested marketing solutions will keep the $100 billion exhibit industry moving forward. It is through face to face marketing that business opportunities are enhanced to create sales. For now, we all wait for the caution flag to be lifted. The exhibit suppliers who have the stamina to hang in will once again feel the joy and rewards of creating experiential marketing solutions for the customers they serve. Regarding the concept of hanging in, it should be pointed out that this is not the first tsunami in the exhibit industry. Over the past 60 years, the US exhibit industry has weathered other storms, each driving changes to the status quo. The burning of McCormick Place, the after effects of 911, and two financial crises, have created waves of changes we now call normal. The world will once again connect with face to face marketing, with some countries moving faster than others. In the end, the human need for personal contact remains strong- at least for now.
Past President of
EDPA (Exhibit Designers & Producers Association)- USA
IFES (International Federation of Exposition Services)- Worldwide
Author- Trade Shows from One Country to the Next