One day, over a drink in a pub that’s open for business, with no restrictions on where you sit, you and a colleague might reminisce one day about the year 2020.

That was the year when things went horribly wrong for all those connected with the live events industry.

Of course, things went wrong for millions of other people too, but this post is about events and the people who produce and use them.

Sadly, the time for that drink and reminiscing is still some way off, but come it will.

In the meantime, what can you do to instil confidence about the return of events with your clients?

Here are five suggestions.


Welcome the return of high street retailing


Shops reopening is a good thing for two significant reasons.

The first is that the shops are reopening!

It marks one more step along the road back to what was our “normal” life and environment.

Secondly, studying how retailers adapt their stores are lessons we can apply to many aspects of exhibiting and event organising. 

Are there retail-inspired ideas you can incorporate into stand design, signage systems, transportation and other areas where these two industries share common ground?


Explain the events industry has not been sitting on their hands


Many of your clients may be unaware of the different vested interests in the events industry.

The three groups who have been hurt the most by the lockdown, venue owners, organisers, and suppliers have not been sitting on their hands.

If you read the regular updates published by ESSA, you’ll know about the lobbying of government ministers and departments that has been going on since the beginning of this crisis.

All are working jointly to produce a safe and workable way for exhibitions to resume.

It’s vital to let your clients know about these efforts and the progress made.

Although you can’t provide a definite date for re-opening, it’s likely to be in the autumn but will only happen if stringent safety protocols are in place.

And, they will be in place because of the work being undertaken now by all relevant trade associations.


Report on events re-opening in other parts of the world


To reinforce point 2 and to show you are not talking “pie in the sky,” report on how events will reopen in Germany in September. Click for details.

Also, UFI, The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, has published “Global Framework for Reopening Exhibitions and B2B events.”

If you want to explain to clients why and how exhibitions will safely operate when they reopen, dip into this document and tell them. 


Think about how your service will adapt to meet the demands of socially distanced event environments


Exhibitions will be different when they reopen. On the surface, they may look the same, but there will nuances aplenty.

Build and dismantling periods are likely to be different, at least in the beginning.

Events may have staggered build and dismantling times.

There might be temperature testing for workers, and there will undoubtedly be conditions applied to distancing to ensure workspaces are not overcrowded.

Are you planning for those and other possible new conditions now?  


Remind your clients of the unique benefits that live events deliver


Staying in contact with clients by email is a good thing.

Readership rates of email have increased during lockdown if for no other reason than people have the time to read their mail.

Use those emails to keep your clients informed about what’s happening as far as flesh and blood events are concerned.

Don’t be afraid to talk about the increase in webinars and online events.

They will not replace the need or desire for the real thing.

If anything, virtual events will increase hunger and attraction among “visitors’ and users for the real thing. Both can work together.

Being realistic is not negative. Don’t promote the idea that a return to shows as they were in January or February of this year will happen immediately.

Keep a close eye on the events they take part in and their status. Note things like floorplan changes, different stand sizes, opening dates and times, and other changes to the norm.

One day, in a more favourable time, we will be able to look back at this horrible period for the events industry. 

We will talk about how we are delighted we came through it and how we will never take “normal” conditions for granted ever again.

We will also be able to sit in a pub or a restaurant to have this conversation.

Here’s to that happening very soon. 

David O’Beirne
The Exhibition Agency Ltd
63 Vera Avenue, London N21 1RJ  
T. 0203 633 4665
M. 07858 374 051

Exhibitors Only

The views and opinions expressed in these blogs are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ESSA, its members, board or staff. Our members represent a broad range of views within the event industry, and we have provided this section of the website for their opinions to be openly heard and discussed.

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