How can you safely organize a trade show during COVID-19?
- Inform the participants of the guidelines
- Promote pre-registration
- Place barriers on trade booths
- Limit the use of shared items
- Implement a one-way traffic scheme
As the MICE sector gradually begins to open up, there’s no doubt that event organizers and planners are probably thinking about how to safely organize a trade show during COVID-19.
Other countries have been setting the stage in holding these types of events in a safe manner without compromising quality. Singapore, for example, held its first physical trade show called Travel Revive at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. This attracted over 1,000 attendees who shared ideas about the future of travel post-COVID-19. It’s hoped that the success of such events in a pandemic-ridden world will eventually influence other countries to do so.
In the Philippines, events spaces like the World Trade Center Metro Manila are already preparing for this situation. They’ve recently launched their Business Events (B.E.) SAFE PROGRAM which is directly aligned with set protocols of the national government. The program outlines how the venue will safely prepare for exhibits, conferences, and other types of events that will be held in the future.
With the need to revive the economy, there is a high level of confidence that trade shows and exhibition shows will be integral to this realization. Through simple practices such as placing barriers, promoting social distancing, investing in hybrid booths, planning and staging a trade show during this time can happen.
Inform the Participants of the Guidelines
Even before the day of the event begins, you should have already informed your participants of the safety guidelines and protocols that will be in place during the event itself. This is usually done in coordination with the event venue that you chose for the trade exhibit.
Going back to a previous example, the World Trade Center Metro Manila recently released their B.E. SAFE PROGRAM. Essentially, this outlines the steps that the venue will be taking before, during, and after the culmination of an event.
As an event organizer, it’s your responsibility to further communicate these changes to your potential attendees. Make sure this is part of your promotions and it should be done at least 3 to 6 months in advance. This gives time for the attendees to prepare themselves and to also be aware of their duty to maintain a safe environment for them and the other people surrounding them while they’re navigating the trade event.
Another thing that you can do is to allow the attendees to pre-register for the event. Likewise, this should also be done at least 3 months before the official start of the show.
Pre-registrations are far more convenient compared with usual registration on event day. It’s important that you disseminate the pre-registration forms through digital methods, like email or social media. Doing this lessens the likelihood of large queues and large crowds on the same day of the event. This minimizes physical interaction and also lowers the risk of potential cross-contamination.
Place Barriers on Trade Booths
You may be wondering about how you can still promote engagement among the participants and the different trade booths that they will be visiting, while still ensuring their safety. At first glance, putting up barriers or partitions may seem counterintuitive, but there is a strategic way of going about this.
If there are multiple trade booths in the event, they should be informed of the need to put up these barriers without any compromise. A great option that many industries are using nowadays as a response to this is by using transparent barriers that are also cut-out in a specific way to allow safe interaction.
As much as possible, you don’t want to use opaque barriers that can prevent the booth from showcasing their products and services to the onlookers. The challenge is to set up awe-inspiring exhibits that promote safe interaction.
Limit the Use of Shared Items
In the traditional trade booth, it’s common for promoters to offer freebies and giveaways to the participants. These can come in the form of notepads, pens, lanyards, drawstring bags, flash drives, and the like. Although this may still be possible in a COVID-19 world, the idea is to minimize the distribution of such items, and instead promote other alternatives.
Your attendees won’t have any idea of where these items came from, or whether or not they were sanitized. A trade booth handler can assure them that each object displayed in the booth has been cleaned for their safety, but it’s much safer to just prevent their distribution altogether.
Instead, other no-touch options can be used. For example, a trade booth can start making use of promotionals such as gift cards that can be redeemed online, or any discount offerings that can be used on an eCommerce platform. It’s up to the showcasers to get creative on how they’ll go about this.
Implement a One-Way Traffic Scheme
The venue location should have a one-way traffic scheme in place. Trade events won’t just attract a few dozens of individuals — it’s possible that they can garner the attention of hundreds or even thousands of people.
As the participants go from one booth to another, they will inevitably get in contact with another participant, no matter how minimal it may be. To lower the potential health risks, there should be an organized flow of traffic that helps regulate physical interactions. There should also be assigned personnel in different posts to monitor and maintain this scheme.
This article is a simple guide for event planners on how to safely organize a trade show during COVID-19. As mentioned before, constant communication and coordination with the events space is important. This is because they likely would have already set aside certain protocols for trade events.
The MICE industry is slowly opening its doors. As trade events become more commonplace, prioritizing health and safety through different measures is key.
Through proper communication of guidelines, setting up partitions, promoting pre-registration, limiting the distribution of items, and even setting up a one-way traffic scheme, safely managing a trade event is certainly possible.