The end of the summer marks the start of the high season for the exhibition world. After this period of lockdown, which seems to have dragged on for an eternity, eaten up enormous sums of money and destroyed livelihoods, we are now able to start moving forwards again.
Everyone has been champing at the bit for some while now - exhibition centres, event organisers, stand constructors, event agents, caterers, exhibitors and visitors – we are all keen to finally get back what we have lost and have been longing for. And indeed now that lockdown is over, after varying signals and guidance from the federal governments and the considerable stresses involved in preparing for the new start, we are under starter’s orders.
And there is plenty of evidence that this is not only the wish and expectation of the events sector. Feedback from surveys report how important exhibitions and events are for companies, and how highly valued they are in enabling direct contact with both old and new customers. Companies need exhibitions, live events, and personal contact with current customers, as well as prospective customers. That is all nothing new, but it is being clearly expressed with ever increasing vehemence.
And visitors, too, are impatient; numerous posts across many different social media channels have highlighted the desire for exhibitions to return and stated that the gaps that have emerged during lockdown can not be filled by other activities. Everyone, or perhaps more accurately, most people are keen to be involved, when the exhibition halls finally open their doors.
So exhibitions are all set to resume. Whether they are B2B or B2C, no costs or effort will be spared to make yesterday’s impossible possible once again.
And yet, despite all the optimism and support, everything will be different this year. For in spite of the modifications to exhibition concepts, the comprehensive measures for maintaining hygiene and distancing, and for registration and the management of visitor flows, all of which are providing the best possible conditions for going ahead with the events in the current circumstances, the worry and uncertainty, whether valid or not, remain considerable.
Companies are questioning whether they should be taking part in exhibitions either as an exhibitor or a visitor, because although the risks have been minimised, they cannot be excluded and because for many it is still questionable whether and how face to face discussions at exhibitions and events will work under the given conditions – with the consequence that future events will have to be cancelled or postponed to 2021 or later.
So there is still a lot of convincing to be done and we need to wish these first events that are setting forth in these circumstances the best of luck; they are entering to a certain extent new territory and at the same time are under particular scrutiny. (We wish all participants ersetzt:) Let us wish all involved the greatest of success and positive outcomes – because its enormously important for the future of the exhibition and events sector, and we are all dependent on it.
August 2020 | Udo Weller
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