We recently did a piece outlining some of the lessons that may have been taken onboard from event organizers during the COVID-19 outbreak and how they may future prepare events with this in mind - but as either a business that represents themselves at these events or an attendee, you may be wondering what to expect in changes that may be seen moving forward as well as changes in behavior that may be expected of you whilst at an event.
Masks and greetings - Wearing a mask all over may become commonplace and if you’re going to an event or trade show where lots of people are expected to be, it’s probably a safe bet that you’re going to be wearing a mask in the near future. Whether this will be common far into the future is unlikely, however if you’re feeling under the weather you may also be expected to wear a mask in that situation on a more permanent basis. Similarly for greetings, at first handshaking may be out of the question for some as elbow and fist bumps become expected - this will likely be one of the first behaviors to return to normal, but it's important not to be offended if someone doesn’t want to shake your hand as it is likely a precautionary measure.
Goodie Bags and Media - You may be accustomed to receiving a lot of handouts and material during your trips - whilst digital media and big display banners are likely to remain in place, you may be less likely to get any handouts in the short term - think flyers, demonstration pieces, or little goodies that some stands may give to you. This may be because supply is tough or just reducing the risk through handing pieces out - this will be a practice sure to return quickly, but it may take a little time to fully return to what was once normal.
A hands off approach - Much like greetings and goodie bags, one change that may be expected is to keep your distance in the short term - barriers distancing attendees from exhibition stands and spacers to ensure that guests are kept apart from each other may become a temporary fixture - this may become especially true in the more elaborate displays which would typically have a larger amount of foot traffic with very tactile areas that encourage people to get involved with the display - again possibly a short term change here but certainly for the time being it’s more likely guests will be expected to remain respectful and keep a little distance to ensure that any future visitors are kept safe.
A move to digital - As with the previous post, it is likely that some events may look to move to a more permanent digital representation through streamed events online, or even just to the use of digital media over more traditional displays and exhibition stands. This had been considered a more natural progression as many events had already started moving this way, but the current global crisis may accelerate this process and lead to streamed events being common.
The go ahead for non essential business in the UK has been granted for June, but many of these events may not return for a little time following - when they do however, these are just some of the changes that may be expected in the short term especially, but they may also be a possibility in the long term - keep these in mind if you’re intending on visiting a trade show or exhibition soon so your expectations are also measured.