Since March, all scheduled events have been either cancelled, postponed or moved online because of the government regulation against mass gatherings. As the first industry to close their doors, events will be the last to reopen. Of course, nobody is happy about this. 

Rather than complaining, the venues, organisers and event suppliers have been working around the clock. They aim to make sure that when your events come back they’re going to be better than ever.

But what about the businesses who missed out on a huge marketing opportunity? They are the people who have been left in the dark. Our customers, who buy our products and hire our venues, have had no choice but to pull out of their exhibition calendar at the last minute. 

How Have Businesses Been Affected?

As we all know, trade shows offer exhibitors a fantastic opportunity to network, generate leads and close deals. You can’t find such a highly targeted audience anywhere that isn’t an industry-specific event. Face-to-face communication allows you to build and maintain relationships whilst showing that your brand is human.

Each year, brands spend thousands of pounds on their trade show marketing strategy. They strive to have the boldest exhibition stand and walk away with the most leads. Then they go home and turn these leads into customers. Before that happens, they have to pay for:

  • Travel
  • Accommodation
  • Floor space
  • Furniture rental
  • Exhibition stand
  • Wi-Fi
  • Electricity
  • Staff
  • And the list goes on, and on, and on

Planning something like this takes time. Exhibition stand suppliers suggest taking up to 12 months to get everything organised for your trade show. This time last year businesses were getting ready for their 2020 events. Money has been spent, travel and accommodation has been arranged – but now what? 

Left in the Dark

With this kind of investment, you would expect the event organisers to be open and honest with exhibitors. But how could they be when they weren’t told what would happen to their industry in the first place?

The government banned mass gatherings as one of the earliest precautions when COVID-19 struck. Business events have not been allowed to take place since March, closing alongside businesses worldwide. As other industries, such as hospitality and tourism, were given the green light to go ahead, the events industry was left very much in the dark. 

Exhibitors and visitors were also left in a difficult situation as thousands of venues, organisers and suppliers unable to tell the public when, how or if they would be back. Customers were asking for their money back as shows were being postponed or moved online. The entire events sector, including the 700,000 people the industry employs, were left hanging by a string. Unable to answer questions or say what the future would look like, confidence in live event marketing fell. But here is the silver lining.

The date we’ve been waiting for

Finally, Boris Johnson told the country that business events could take place from October 1st. We are excited. 

As the first industry to close and the last to reopen, you can only imagine how much research and development has gone into the last few months. Of course, we have been doing everything we can to make sure we can provide a safe environment for visitors and exhibitors upon your return. But it’s gone so much further than that.

The rise in virtual platforms has allowed us to improve the software. Virtual events now offer more value than ever before. But we know you’ve missed face-to-face communication.

Live events will be able to take place with one way systems, an online booking platform to arrange one-to-one meetings, capped audience numbers and the integration of digital platforms. Exhibitions have gone hybrid.

Not only does this mean that travel restrictions won’t cause a problem, but it means that the work you put into your show will be everlasting. You’ll be interacting with more people who care about your product than ever before. And the face-to-face meetings that you do have will be more valuable as you’ll have time to structure and organise them.

Don’t lose faith in your live marketing strategy. Embrace the change. Winston Churchill famously said, “Don’t waste a good crisis”. The events industry didn’t. Now it’s your turn to make your marketing budget work harder.

We’ll see you on the trade show floor.

By Eddy

Eddy is the editorial columnist in Business Fundas, and oversees partner relationships. He posts articles of partners on various topics related to strategy, marketing, supply chain, technology management, social media, e-business, finance, economics and operations management. The articles posted are copyrighted under a Creative Commons unported license 4.0. To contact him, please direct your emails to [email protected].