The show must go on – Our top tips for planning your next exhibition stand for 2021
Posted by Tom Oakes
Well, another month has passed and we still find ourselves locked down, quarantined, home schooling, Netflixing, Amazon Priming, NHS clapping, banana bread making and adjusting to our “new normal”. But, what’s this? There is an end in sight. As the UK and the worlds economy starts to reopen there are glimmers of light. For one, the pubs are open! This alone is reason to rejoice but it also signals an easing of restrictions on the hospitality industry and if successful, this will directly shape how shows, conferences and exhibitions may open in the future.
It is safe to say that we can and should start planning for next year. Albert Einstein famously said “In the midst of every crisis lies great opportunity” and although we should never forget the lessons the coronavirus has taught us, we should absolutely look for ways that we can kick start our lives again and maximise the opportunities a re-opening economy presents.
With that in mind, in 2021 there will be a re-emergence of businesses and customers looking to buy, sell and invest but more than that connect, face to face in a way they have been unable to in 2020. Exhibition stands, shows and conferences offer the ideal space and opportunity to do just that.
Below are our top tips for planning your next show and ensuring you don’t get caught out by some of the changes we may see as a result of Covid-19:
If we have all learnt one lesson this year it is that we cannot take anything for granted. How many of us really think about the unthinkable when planning our exhibition or show? It’s called the unthinkable for a reason, right? But when issues arise and crisis strikes you need to ensure whether you are organising a show or planning an exhibition stand that you have contingencies in place, not only financially but practically. Your customers still want to hear from you, there are still sales to be made and people to influence. Firstly, read your contract. Understand your rights in the event of a cancellation and factor in the impact financially of costs and deposits in to your budget if the worst does happen. As we have seen this year, many shows and conferences decided to run virtually. If a show is cancelled, are you set up to maximise the opportunity a virtual show offers? Are your presentations tight, your info graphics and marketing material on point? Can you present and deliver a condensed exhibition experience in the shortened time a virtual show offers you. Don’t forget, even if you are connecting via computer or laptop, you want to ensure your backdrop and displays are still of the highest quality. Exhibition stand designers can still help and add value with this process.
Yes, insurance is boring. Nobody enjoys dealing with it, the forms, the paperwork, the brokers but now more than ever, it is vital that you understand your cover. Take the time to read through your policy and discuss with your insurer how potential cancellations will affect your policy. This may affect your premium, but lets face it, we all know there will be many MANY people and businesses who now wish they had taken out that extra cover.
There are plenty of event specific insurance policies and it is worth researching which suits your needs best. Insurers in the future are likely to exclude Covid-19 related cancellations however, with a vaccine on the way, it is unlikely Covid will affect shows of the future. It is vital however, that you ensure that other more general cover is in place for potential cancellations in relation to pandemic and global crisis.
The role of technology
Technology has slowly crept into the events and conference world over the last 10 years and any show worth its salt is already using technology to enhance its live experience. Shows are now widely streamed online and through social media and digital marketing and data capture are now the rule not the exception. During the Coronavirus crisis as discussed, we have seen shows moving to digital formats but will this be the norm moving forward? No, is the short answer. Although virtual conferences offer convenience and have been a lifeline during lockdown, ultimately, they cannot replicate the excitement and visceral experience of a live event. Football is a prime example. It just isn’t the same without a crowd. People do not just attend shows, they are the show. They create the atmosphere, they create the buzz and the excitement and overall enhance the experience for everyone from visitors, to exhibitors to organisers. Tactile, face to face connection is instinctive, its natural, we are after all social creatures. However, As discussed in point 1, we need to be prepared at all times to take advantage of the opportunity’s technology offers.
Strong & secure supply chains
Unfortunately, Corona will have had a catastrophic effect on many businesses within the event industry who sadly, will not have survived. There will be a long lasting and long felt affect after this pandemic has passed to an industry built by small businesses and freelancers. As sad as this is ,it is vital that in choosing who will design and deliver your next exhibition stand that you perform due diligence and ensure that any business you choose to collaborate with is healthy and that your supply chain is strong. The demand for exhibition stand design will be extremely high come 2021 as demand will inevitably outstrip supply and as such, choosing a contractor or designer with strong experience and reputable references will be key.
Health & Safety
It will be absolutely key as we move forward that information on Health and Safety is delivered in a clear, concise manner to all potential show visitors, staff and members of the public. Venues and show organisers must ensure that information given states how they will work to help keep their shows safe ,making sure it is delivered and adhered to pre-show. This should be separate from the standard Health and Safety briefing and aim to use the most clear and accessible language possible. Exhibitors, again when thinking about their exhibition stand design should also consider how their Health and Safety messages can be displayed and communicated.