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COVID-19 and Face to Face Marketing. Can they coexist and are we looking at a ‘new’ normal?

As I type the above headline, I am sure many wonder about the reality of this horrific virus that is so stealthy and one that thrives on social activity, coexisting with an industry that is based totally on social interaction. Now keeping in mind that I am a firm believer that for the next 8 weeks we should indeed be diligent in our social distancing efforts, there will be a time when we need to relax the practice, albeit slowly. At that point, I feel our industry will start to come out of this forced hibernation and we can breathe life back into what I have always believed to be the paramount platform for both b2b and b2c marketing. Let me say it right now… COVID-19 is not going to eliminate face to face marketing, be it tradeshows, be it events. While dormant now, it will be back… although with a slightly different landscape!

So, what does the future hold for us? How will both exhibitors and attendees re-acclimate to what will be the new normal for us? Here are some of my thoughts on what I feel we can expect to see, and what I think might help us get back to firing on all 8 cylinders.

1) Show Attendance – Let’s face it, we all want the show floor to be buzzing with traffic. Exhibitors go to meet both existing clients, new prospects and visit with industry peers. Now the reality is that beyond the designated aisles that are in place to control flow of people, it really is a free for all when it comes to traffic patterns and where people go and when they go.  Which leads me to some “what ifs”  that I think might help our cause:

  • What if we developed a registration system that determined the number of people that could attend each day? In other words, once you registered there would be a lotto system in place that designated you to one particular day that you could attend. For example; we have a four day show that runs Mon- Thurs, once you register you are allotted on specific day to attend. If that particular day does not work, you request a new day, much akin to having a timed-entry pass to get into Disney World. If needed, we can even drill down further and only allow am vs. pm attendance. This I feel will even out the days people attend, eliminate the crazy crowds on the 1st day and balance out the attendance on the last day where attendance is typically very light. Yes, this will be somewhat of an inconvenience to start, but let’s face it, we all need to adjust here. I personally think this could work in the short term. And if need be, we stay with this lotto system until we have a vaccine in place.
  • What if we limit the number of attendees from a particular company that can register? Just send the key buyers that are responsible for making the decision. And I would say that this applies to any size company. Again, another way to control the number of people.

2) Footprints- While many subscribe to the mantra “Go Big Or Go Home”, this too warrants some rethinking and reconfiguring.

  • What if we consider cutting the size of the footprints down on the show floor? What if we don’t allow footprints larger than an inline 10’ x 30’. Yes, I realize for some this will be a big adjustment and honestly as a booth provider I am not excited about saying goodbye to island footprints. But again, we really need do think out of the box and consider this new floor plan as a possible option for the short term. This will also cut down on staff needed which will help the cause in an effort to control crowd size.

3) Rentals- This could be the new norm for a while and one that isn’t driven by the usual considerations when choosing between rental or purchase.

  • What if this now becomes the preferred option? It falls in line with my comments above regarding the need to consider scaling down our footprints. In reality, many exhibitors don’t have a booth that might fit this new paradigm and therefore will need to look at new inline booths. While we don’t have a crystal ball that can tell us how long we will be living with social distancing and related crowd control, this too could be a short-term solution as we plan for Q3 and QW4 tradeshows in 2020.

While I realize that my “what ifs” are a bit out of the box, for some might seem a very far-fetched and an inconvenience, truth be told for now (and the foreseeable future) I only ask that we all need to be open minded.

Stay healthy and safe and I look forward to the day when we can once again all say “Have A Good Show”!

Cheers…Chuck

Chuck Michel

VP Tradeshow Services

ELITeXPO, Inc.

chuckm@elitexpo.com

#tradeshowstrong

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ELITeXPO Is Here Working All Exhibit Shipments, As Usual

We here at ELITeXPO would like you to be aware that
we are staffed and working all exhibit shipments as normal. We have extended
hours throughout the weekend to assure that any urgent changes are handled
appropriately. Be assured that we also will have on-call staff available after
hours and weekends for any other requests that need immediate attention.
ELITeXPO also will be able to offer short term storage alternatives to those
customers who may have diverted shipments in anticipation for future events.

ELITeXPO is in close contact with many industry partners to keep updated on any significant information that may be useful and helpful to all of our customers. We are also available to answer any questions that you may have or to offer assistance on any new show strategies that you may be considering during this time. ELITeXPO is proceeding about its daily business while heeding the precautionary measures that have been published by the CDC.

We also encourage everyone to consider the source of varying on-line Coronavirus information that has infiltrated the internet. The best resource for Covid-19 information and updates is the CDC website that you can find at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html . We encourage everyone to follow the guidelines as recommended by the CDC and to be especially mindful of those people who are most at risk.

Show Floor Setup

Covid-19 Fears Affecting Trade Shows

Many trade shows are postponing or cancelling across the US and the world over concerns from the Covid-19 virus. There are also many trade shows that have made the decision to continue on, as planned, but with additional health and safety measures added. The situation continues to be fluid so you want to frequently check with each show’s management company and/or the association hosting the event to verify the current status of trade shows, conferences, and other events scheduled in March and April. We are also monitoring the status of upcoming events and working with customers to handle the logistics for any exhibit materials requiring re-routing.

We have been working with exhibitors last night and all day today who were in the middle of a move-in at Natural Products West Expo in Anaheim when they decided to postpone the event. International Housewares in Chicago has cancelled as have several other events. We are recovering freight directly from the show venues and from the advanced warehouses, depending on where the exhibit materials are currently located.

ELITeXPO is here to assist with any exhibit materials that you may need assistance with. Whether you need help getting your shipment back from a show that is no longer happening or you need temporary storage of your trade show materials until the show’s rescheduled date, please give us a call and we will work to find the best solutions for you.

As of today, EXHIBITORLive is still proceeding as planned, as is the AAOS Annual Meeting, The Optical Fiber Communication Conference and Exhibition in San Diego, and all Bobit Business Media events. Just to name a few.

Most shows that are still going on as planned are adding increased cleaning and disinfection across all high volume touchpoints, adding sanitizing and disinfecting materials for public use, adding signage regarding proper hygiene recommendations, and advising exhibitors and attendees to review the CDC’s travel health notices that are available at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV .

As always, we are here and are working all shows that are going on as scheduled, as we normally would. We also have storage capabilities across the country, if needed. Feel free to contact us at info@elitexpo.com or 800-543-5484, if you have any questions.