Those in the exhibitions and events industry are going above and beyond to ensure colleagues, visitors, exhibitors, and delegates are protected. When organised gatherings are ready to take place again, health and safety will be the number one priority.
This article outlines some of my thoughts in regard to the measures organisers, suppliers, and venues are taking to ensure the health and safety of all, in response to COVID-19.
To encourage social distancing, online registration provides an achievable means to help minimise on-site contact at a number of touchpoints, as well as controlling the crowd density and staggering admissions. Other solutions, such as one-way visitor traffic, could create a logical flow through venues by preventing bottlenecks and cross walking, whilst keeping social distancing guidelines at all times. Show organisers will also recommend the elimination of handshakes at organised gatherings in order to minimise the spread of infections as much as possible. In addition, show organisers and venues are committed to making hand sanitiser stations readily available throughout their event spaces, particularly at key locations.
Venues and stand builders will definitely maximise their efforts to ensure that all stands are properly cleaned and disinfected before the show opens, but those manning the stands during the day will also need to contribute towards the cleaning efforts throughout the event. It is important to consider the elimination of physical materials in favour of sharing promotional items digitally, which will strongly help minimise the risk and contact between people as well as contribute to sustainability efforts.
In terms of physical stands, enclosed and private meeting rooms will no longer be advised and there will instead be a high demand for semi-private meeting areas which allow for a smaller number of people. The use of screens and dividers will help to create different partitions, and seating will need to be positioned at certain distances in accordance with social distancing guidelines.
In cooperation with venue partners, show organisers will have to provide enhanced guidelines to assist contractors in the installation and dismantling of stands to ensure social distancing, hygiene, and cleaning guidance are followed. It is important to understand what’s going on behind the scenes and make sure all the parties involved have an adequate amount of time to deliver within a safe and protected environment, whilst respecting social distancing and cleaning procedures.
Covering items such as exhibitor freight, personnel, shared equipment, appropriate protective clothing, and high touch point areas, detailed measures can be provided to minimise risk where it would be beneficial.
Communication is a critical success factor for any exhibitor and, now more than ever, it is important to target and reach your audience. With possible restrictions on the number of attendees under one roof and some companies reluctant to send a large number of employees, it is essential that that there is a structured and managed calendar of activities that looks to engage with customers and prospects before, during, and after the event. With everyone looking to raise their game, it is essential to invest in high-quality content that is both thought-provoking and timely. From insight-driven blogs and videos to educational animations and infographics, the possible content formats available are endless and should not be overlooked. All of this should be planned in advance, joined up for consistency, and distributed across digital platforms according to a schedule of awareness and promotion in the lead-up to the event.
To conclude, there is no doubt that event organisers, venues, exhibitors, and agencies have a great task ahead of them in order to make exhibitions and events a safe environment for us all. Future success will not only depend on having the right regulations in place, but also on our ability to work together and support each other in order to overcome the challenges we will face.
Preparing for an event or exhibition in late 2020 or 2021? Get in touch with me via [email protected] – I’d be happy to discuss your plans and how we can assist you.