Mention the word “exhibitions” and you can almost here the collective sign of uncertainty that everyone is feeling. Whether you are employed in the industry or have your sights set on attending or exhibiting no-one has a crystal ball that can accurately say what will happen but some pretty cool things are coming out of this pandemic as we start to overcome some of the challenges. (Including the celebration we can all have getting out of our Zoom wardrobe… See ya PJ pants and ugh boots – It’s time to get dressed!).

You don’t have to be a genius to speculate that the industry is going to change. We are incredibly lucky here in Australia and the way we have managed the pandemic is admired worldwide. While pubs re-open and domestic travel starts to gradually rev up, it also looks are though the fares are going to be structured to encourage people to come back to them too.

The industry guidelines are yet to be released but while there is talk of events re-commencing after July 1, it may still take a little while for dates to appear on the calendar.

Here are some inevitable changes you can expect at exhibitions:

  • Temperature Scanning
  • Hand Sanitisers, placed at regular intervals in the show with touch-less activation
  • Ultra Violet disinfection unit
  • More emphasis on venue cleaning, before, during and after the show
  • Support staff wearing gloves to handle rubbish etc particularly during build up
  • Training on hygiene best practices, e.g. touching your face etc
  • A touch-less registration with lists of everybody that entered being tracked
  • More visitors will be encouraged to register prior to visiting a show
  • Badge collection at the show may be done with facial recognition (no touching & faster)
  • Exhibition stand design will be more open
  • Technology will have a bigger impact
  • Pre-determined traffic flow, with one door for entry and another for exit, wider aisles and there may be barriers to enforce social distancing

How exactly the whole physical distancing will be managed is yet to be seen. Distancing Police might not be viable ? but we can probably expect to see aisles widened at trade shows to help people maintain the 1.5m social distancing rules. They may stipulate masks are worn my all attendees and exhibitors and if they can, they may even track the number of visitors in the venue at any one time.

We will definitely share updates to you all once the industry guidelines are released and will be a Covid-19 Safe Business once they are announced.

Some cool technology to keep an eye out for – One super cool thing we saw is an attendee badge holder with a built-in light or mini alarm that went off if you got too close to someone. It had a setting for those that came into a show together so they could cruise the halls together without being driven mad.

Another cool invention was a super-efficient temperature scanner that did not require somebody to hold up a gun type reader.

We can probably expect some of these restrictions to provide income opportunities for organisers to offset the costs. This might include attaching digital screens to hand sanitisers, sponsorship opportunities on face masks or badge warnings that say “brought to you by…”.

There is definitely a place for virtual events but even as working from home becomes an accepted norm, it also becomes clear that no google hang out or zoom call will be able to replace an exhibition.

The bottom line is that while we are undoubtedly going to see some changes to how we exhibit at trade shows and conferences, there is no substitute for face-to-face meetings. It’s impossible to replicate some of the major benefits you get from a trade show like networking, eyeballing a company, interacting with the staff you are about to invest with or being able to do all your market research in the one place without the real world distractions we all face – emails, phones, just simply dedicating time to learn and absorb.

Us Aussie’s are dying to get out and live again. You see it at cafes, pubs and restaurants. This is the beginning of a new way of doing business and it’s coming soon! As more information comes to light we will keep you in the know.

What business innovations have you experienced as a result of Covid-19? We would love to hear them!

Jess, Chris & Petra